Hi, I'm Kim

Hi, I’m Kim Christensen, M.Om., Dipl.OM, L.Ac. I’m a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and owner of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Back before going to school and becoming a healthcare practitioner, Affairs of Living was my creative outlet while healing from chronic health issues. These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.

Want to stay up to date? Check out my new website www.constellationacu.com.

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

Entries in Recipes: Condiments/Sauces/Stocks (36)


Sprouted Chickpea Pesto and Broccoli Pasta Salad (gluten free, dairy free, vegan, nut free)

Every few months or so, my fabulous friend Alison throws a Stitch and Bitch. For those of you that aren't in the know, a Stitch and Bitch is a gathering of women that involves food, drink, handiwork, and lively conversation. My grandmother attends a Stitch and Bitch. My mother attends a Stitch and Bitch. And now I, too, attend a Stitch and Bitch. I love Alison's Stitch and Bitch get togethers. We all eat, talk, and sometimes even get around to working on our projects. Last time, which was just before Christmas, I was an embroidery fanatic and managed to complete an entire design on a dish towel in one evening. It was a pattern of a devil head, for my devilishly handsome and equally fabulous friend Derek.

Anyway, one of the best things about Stitch and Bitch is eating. Alison always provides some food, and guests always bring more. Unfortunately for me, most of the food at Stitch and Bitch, like most party fare, is primarily wheat or dairy based. Lots of crackers, crusty breads, fancy cheeses, tasty dips and tapenades, or little baked confections. Basically, lots of things on my naughty list. So, it is up to me to bring something I can eat that will also please the other ladies. Last time I brought some crazy Black Bean Carob brownies, a vegan variation of the recipe from 101 Cookbooks. They were pretty good, and went over fairly well, all things considered. Sure, the baguette and brie definitely stole people's hearts before my black bean brownies did, but by the end of the evening, a fair portion of those brownies had vanished off the plate. People liked them.

Or at least, people were curious enough about trying to figure out if they liked them or not to keep eating them.

This time around, I decided I wanted something more substantial. Something that would make a meal. I wanted a pasta salad. A pasta salad that was doused in pesto.

I totally adore pesto, but since most pre-made pesto includes ingredients that are no longer on my "yes" list, I now have to make it myself every time I want it. Thankfully, it is marvelously easy and takes about 5 minutes. So, I stopped at my favorite Asian market and bought a huge bunch of basil to make my sauce. Hot tip - basil is ALWAYS cheap at the Asian market. Way cheaper than buying it your average grocer or natural food store. And generally fresher, becuase basil is very commonly used in SE Asian cooking, and the turnover rate is pretty high.

Since I'm on a break from most nuts and seeds right now, running a little allergy experiment, I decided to make the pesto with sprouted chickpeas instead of pinenuts. Brilliant! I've had a batch of chickpeas sprouting away on my kitchen counter the last few days, and this was the perfect opportunity to use 'em up. Since sprouted chickpeas are still crunchy, they make a great substitute for the pine nuts and grated cheese traditionally used in pesto, providing that grainy texture. If you don't sprout, go ahead and try using regular chickpeas, but be forewarned - it may create a more creamy pesto sauce since cooked chickpeas blend up to be very smooth. Or, if you'd like, use pine nuts, or some other nut or seed. Pumpkin seeds make great pesto, as do macadamia nuts. After my sophomore year of college, I worked in Hawaii for a summer, and basically lived on vegan cheese, macadamia nut pesto, and sprouted grain bagel sandwiches. Macadamias + basil = awesome. In fact, I think vegan cheese is really only acceptable to eat when covered in pesto.

Or, for the most simple variation, just make your pesto with basil and olive oil - it is just as delicious. This recipe makes more than enough pesto for the pasta salad, so you'll have plenty of leftovers. Use over cooked veggies or grains, mix with beans, serve on turkey burgers or chicken breasts, or stir in with yogurt or kefir to make a tasty, creamy dressing. Or, just eat with a spoon and get your olive oil intake for the day. Pesto freezes like a dream - I use ice cube trays and those little bendy oven/freezer/fridge safe plastic candy molds to freeze just about everything - so make a big batch and freeze some for later!

In the end, this pasta salad was a total hit at Stitch and Bitch, and got just as much actions as the creamy spinach dip, crusty bread, and ham and cheese galettes. Brimming with Mediterranean-inspired flavors, this pasta salad combines caramelized onions, blanched broccoli, sprouted chickpeas, oil-cured olives, and fresh pesto into something wonderfully vibrant green, ultra flavorful, and very satisfying. People will never guess it is gluten-free and vegan! And it makes a ton - perfect for potlucks, parties, and leftovers.

I did not include cheese when I made the pesto or salad, but I listed it below as an option for those that tolerate dairy. A freshly grated, hard, salty Italian cheese, like parmiggiano reggiano (cow) or pecorino romano (sheep) would be delicious, and add a traditional twist.


yield: 8-10 servings

4 c dry brown rice rotini (or other gluten free pasta), cooked and cooled
3-4 c finely chopped broccoli florets (about 1 bunch)
1 1/2 c sprouted chickpeas (or canned, prepared chickpeas)
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c oil cured black olives, sliced
1/2-2/3 c pesto, to taste (see ingredients and recipe below)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1 T olive oil
optional, if dairy tolerant: grated parmigianno reggiano (cow) or pecorino romano (sheep)

Sprouted Chickpea Pesto:
2 c packed fresh basil leaves
3/4 - 1 c good quality extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic or 1 bulb roasted garlic
1/4 c sprouted chickpeas or 2-3 T pine nuts or other nut/seed
optional, if dairy tolerant: 2-3 T parmiggiano reggiano (cow) or pecorino romano (sheep)
pinch sea salt

PREPARE PESTO (yields approx 1 - 1 1/2 c):

  1. Remove leaves from basil, wash, and spin dry/pat dry.
  2. Put basil leaves, garlic (fresh, roasted, or mix), and sprouted chickpeas/nuts in food processor.
  3. Add oil slowly while pulsing food processor until sauce has reached desired consistency. It shoudl be grainy and well mixed.
  4. Add pinch of sea salt to taste, as desired.
  5. Store in refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze leftovers for later use.


  1. In large stockpot, add water, pinch of salt, and 1 T of olive oil to boil. Add dry pasta, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook 8-10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. DO NOT OVER COOK! Remove from heat immediately, pour pasta through strainer, and rinse with cool water. Set aside, and let it drain thoroughly while cooling.
  2. Thinly slice onion, and place in oiled heavy bottom pan that has a tightly fitting cover. Saute at medium heat until coated with oil, then reduce heat to low, cover and let sweat for 4-5 minutes. Remove cover, stir, cover, and let cook another 5-6 minutes. Remove cover, stir, cover and let cook another few minutes. Repeat until onions have become sweet, sticky, and carmelized. Turn off heat, and leave covered for a few minutes. Remove cover, and set aside.
  3. While onions are caramelizing, boil 4-5 cups of water. Wash broccoli, and remove florets from stems. Chop broccoli finely - you want to make it look like lots of very tiny little trees. Place in a large bowl, then dump boiling water over the florets. Cover bowl with a plate, and let sit for about 1-2 minutes, or until broccoli is just lightly cooked. Remove plate, and strain broccoli. This is a fast and easy way to quickly cook very small broccoli pieces!
  4. Slice olives in quarters vertically, and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together cooled pasta, broccoli, caramelized onion, olives, and chickpeas. Spoon pesto sauce over mixture, and gently mix into pasta until well combined. Add salt, pepper, and additional pesto sauce to taste, as desired.
  6. Cover salad, place in refrigerator, and let sit for 3-4 hours to let flavors develop.
  7. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with freshly grated cheese, as desired/tolerated.

Buon appetito! Per favore, mangia, mangia!



Creamy Kefir Salad Dressing or Fake "RANCH" (gluten free, vegetarian, egg free)

In college, I worked at our campus cafeteria my freshman year. My worst shift was a 7 a.m. salad bar prep shift on Monday mornings. Part of it involved making HUGE quantities of tuna salad in enormous bowls, dumping gallon-sized jars of mayonnaise in with frightening amounts of pickle relish and tuna, and mixing with your elbow-length glove covered hands. Of the three of us that worked the shift, one girl was allergic to latex and couldn't wear the big gloves, and the other refused to do it. So, that left little old vegetarian me to take the fishy plunge. I was raised with a strong Midwestern work ethic.

The other horrible part of working the shift was making the Ranch dressing. Ranch dressing, in my opinion, is disgusting. It is overly creamy and goopy, with a fake yucky overly salty flavor that doesn't exist in nature, it only exists in the Hidden Valley from whence Ranch came. I think it ruins perfectly good vegetables, and should be removed from every salad bar on earth. But college kids love ranch. For everything. For french fries, for chicken fingers, for breadsticks, for pizza, for chips, for sandwiches, for pouring on their trays and making a mess just for fun. And some even put it on vegetable and salads. My fellow students went through frightful amounts of ranch. So, in response, they'd (more like, I'd) make it in huge batches, using a floor mixer that stood about 4 ft high and had the biggest mixing bowl I've ever seen. Buttermilk, mayonnaise, big pouches of Ranch powder, and other stuff would get poured in, and this huge mixer would whisk it all together. Gallons and gallons and gallons of Ranch would suddenly appear. Granted, it was homemade - they really used buttermilk and good mayo - and it wasn't filled with as much weird stuff as the Ranch one buys in the store. But homemade or not, it was still Ranch, and it grossed me out. Hell, seeing that much Ranch every Monday morning along would make anyone sick. The worse part of the whole thing was dumping in the Ranch powder, because it would kick up and you'd inhale it into your nose and it would make you sneeze weird Ranchy sneezes. Gross.

Ranch, it is time to go back to where you came from. Because there is a new creamy dressing in town, and its good bacteria is going to kick your ass all the way back to the Hidden Valley.

I've recently taken to making a salad dressing dip thing out of goat milk kefir. It almost reminds me of Ranch. But it is way better, because it isn't quite as heavy and oily, is full of probiotic goodness, has the tasty bite unique to kefir, and can be flavored with your favorite herbs in an instant. If using fresh herbs, mince very small. Dried herbs work very well in this recipe. Depending on how thick your kefir is, this dressing may be very thick or may be quite thin.

No Ranch powder, no weird additives, no big floor mixer. Delightful on salads or used as a dip for veggies.
Or chicken wings or chips, I suppose.


yield: about 1 c


1 c kefir (I use goat, but cow would be just as good)
1-2 T flax seed oil, olive oil, or sesame oil
1/2 tsp sea salt or Herbamare
limentary fresh or dried herbs/seasonings of choice, such as:

  • garlic powder, basil, pepper
  • lemon juice or zest, dill weed, chives
  • coriander, cumin, cayenne
  • herbes de provence
  • savory, thyme, dried onion
  • grated ginger and minced green onion
  • poppy seeds, almond extract, and a pinch of stevia or agave
  • "RANCH": 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. dill weed, 1 tbsp. parsley, 1 tsp. onion powder (courtesy of Cooks.com)
Whisk together all ingredients, or put in a jar and shake super fast until totally mixed.  Let sit a couple hours to fully flavor through, then use! Should keep in the fridge for about a week.



Basic Vegetable and Chicken Stocks (gluten free, vegan option, ACD)

I adore chicken stocks and vegetable stocks in soup, to cook rice or other grains, to use for sauces, or sometimes just to drink warm like tea. They are nourishing, satisfying, and versatile, and form a good cornerstone for every kitchen. But buying high quality broth and stock that is free of preservatives, sugars, yeast extracts, and crazy additives can be very expensive, and can sometimes be hard to find. Sure, t is great in a pinch or when you just want something convenient, but the cost adds up! So whenever possible, I like to make my own in a big batch and freeze it up for later use. Not only is it incredibly easy, it is also incredibly economical. You really don't need to buy anything extra to make stock, because it uses all the leftovers and "waste" that is leftover from cooking endeavors: bones, skin, scraps, vegetable trimmings, etc. The best stock is cooked for a long time over low heat; it allows for the flavor to become full and rich. Whether making a vegetable stock or a chicken/turkey stock, the same rule applies: the longer you simmer, the richer the flavor. The richer the stock, the more delicious your soup or other dish will be!

There's a million stock recipes out there, some are more complex with others. I usually make a really big batch at once, and just keep it simple so it can be more versatile later on in recipes. Here is what I do for making vegetable and chicken stock. I've never tried making beef stock before, but would like to try my hand at it! You can make as little or as much stock as you choose - obviously, the ratio of water to vegetable/chicken, as well as the length of cooking time, will determine how flavorful your stock becomes. My favorite way is to make it in the slow cooker, because it requires no effort at all and you can leave it simmer all day. once you spend 10 minutes getting your ingredients together, your work is done!

VEGETABLE STOCK (gluten free, vegan)

Instead of throwing away vegetable scraps when you cook, save them! For example...

  • carrot peels,
  • onion peels (not too many)
  • parsley stems or other herb scraps
  • celery ends
  • broccoli or cauliflower staulks
  • mushroom stems
  • green bean ends
  • other vegetable trimmings
If you cook frequently, you'll have plenty of good scraps in no time! Sometimes I"ll keep a container in my fridge for scraps, they will last for a few days without going weird. When you have a a couple cups worth of scraps, throw them in a big stockpot or slow cooker with a bunch of water, a little salt, peppercorns, and maybe a bouquet garni of fresh herbs (if you have any on hand), and if desired, a coarsely chopped carrot or two, celery branch, and an onion for extra flavor. Then let it simmer away for 6-24 hours (if using a slowcooker, put it on low and let it sit), and soon enough, you've got great vegetable broth!
Pour through strainer to remove vegetable scraps and herbs, and if desired, add salt to taste. Use immediately, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use. Will keep 7-10 days in the fridge; bring to boil before using in recipes if storing in fridge.


CHICKEN (OR TURKEY) STOCK (gluten free, dairy free, egg free)

My favorite stock ever is chicken stock. I love cooking whole chickens, removing the meat, and then using the drippings and leftover skin and bones to make stock. Sometimes, if I don't feel like cooking a whole chicken myself, I'll buy a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods or the co-op. Once I get that sucker home, I'll eat some right away, and by that I mean LITERALLY the second I get in the door, because those things are so good fresh and warm. Like chicken candy.

After I've finished gorging myself on chicken (sorry for that image, vegetarian and vegan readers), I'll separate the rest of the meat from the bones and skin, freezing most of the chicken for later. Don't throw away that skin and bones when you disassemble your bird! That's the good stuff! That stuff just wants to be transformed into nutritious, delicious stock. This is the perfect thing to do after cooking a holiday turkey! You could also do this with any other poultry - cornish hen, duck, capon, etc.

All you need is...
leftover bones, tendons, and skin from 1 chicken
any chicken drippings
1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 celery branch, coarsely chopped
a splash of apple cider vinegar
If you want to get fancy...
a bay leaf
other herbs or seasonings
other vegetable trimmings

Put the chicken in the pot with the vegetables. Fill the pot with water, add the vinegar. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 6-24 hours. Strain broth to remove solid matter - remove vegetables and use them for something else, and discard chicken bones and skin. Use immediately, or freeze for later use! Will keep in the fridge for around 7 days, boil before using.

If making in the slowcooker, sometimes I like to start it in a stockpot to bring it to a good boil - this well help kill any unwelcome bacteria on your chicken bones - then transfer it to the slow cooker. I'll leave it on low for up to 24 hours, and get the tastiest stock ever! Again, strain before using.



Rich Coconut Carob Spread (vegan, raw, gluten free)

Holy yum. That's all I have to say. Rich and creamy, this spread is about as close to chocolate sauce as I can imagine. Better maybe even. It is totally luscious, vegan, gluten free, and can even be made raw. Holy smokes. Eat it on anything from rice cakes to fresh fruit, blob it into a protein shake, or spoon it right out of the jar. It would make a killer frosting/glaze on a cake, or as filling between two little cookies.

It hardens when cool, so I would not recommend keeping this in the fridge. At room temperature, it is almost like a thick, slightly crumbly fudge. For smooth, spreadable enjoyment, warm jar slightly to desired consistency, or, if you aren't worried about keeping it raw, throw a blob in the microwave.

RICH COCONUT CAROB SPREAD (vegan, raw, gluten free)

yield: approx 3/4 c

1/2 c raw coconut butter (I like this one from Artisana)
3 T virgin coconut oil
2-3 T raw carob flour (I prefer using toasted carob, but I'm not a raw foodie!)
optional: 1/2-1 T raw agave nectar

  1. Set up a double boiler. If you have one, great! If you don't, find a heat-safe bowl that sits atop a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with 1-2 inches of water, then place the bowl on top of the saucepan. The bowl should not touch the water. Bring the water up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Place coconut butter and coconut oil in warm boil, and heat until it softens just enough to mash. Stir in carob flour and agave, and stir until well mixed.
  3. Remove bowl from heat, and give it a final stir or two until velvety smooth. Transfer mixture into clean glass jar, and store at room temperature. It will harden when it cools; you may want to warm the jar slightly to use.

FUDGE VARIATION: This makes a tasty fudge! Pour warm coconut mixture into a small pan that has been greased lightly with coconut oil, or lined with parchment. If desired, sprinkle with chopped nuts, finely shredded coconut, or ground goji berries. Let cool and harden, then slice into small squares. Or, if you want small candy shapes, pour warm mixture into neoprene candy molds or neoprene ice cube trays. Let cool, and remove from molds. Serve the fudge at room temperature. Totally decadent! Store in a cool place; if it gets warm, it will start to melt.



Cashew Seaweed Gomasio (gluten free, vegan)

I'm allergic to sesame. This makes me sad. I love all things sesame, from tahini to sesame oil to the little plain old seed itself. And I love gomasio. Gomasio is sesame salt, a tasty thing used in Japanese cuisine and adopted by the macrobiotic folks. It is a combination of toasted sesame seed and sea salt, and sometimes also includes sea vegetable flakes. It is used as a condiment for grains and vegetables, and is high mineral, low sodium, totally tasty seasoning on anything and everything.

When I first cut out sesame, I made my own gomasio with pumpkin seeds, and it was awesome. Then I found out I'm also allergic to pumpkin and pumpkin seeds. WTF. So, I've moved on to making gomasio with other things, and finding it just as satisfying. While the seaweed is optional, I really like it added in the mix. My favorite seaweed for gomasio is dulse. Dulse is a super nutritious sea vegetable with a lovely reddish-purple color and a mild flavor. It is high in calcium and iron, and when purchased in flake form, is easy to sprinkle on anything from salads to soup. Dulse flakes are easy to find at natural foods markets or online, and saves the step of home grinding. You could also add any other dried seasoning - like onion or garlic, for example. The options are ENDLESS!

This recipe is the basic proportion for gomasio, so feel free to use the traditional sesame, or any other seed of your choosing. Or, mix it up and do a combination of seeds. If you will be using pre-toasted seeds, or ground flax, you can omit the seed toasting and grinding steps from the instructions. Or, if you don't want to make your own, and you can eat sesame, try one of these from Eden Organics.

Cashew Seaweed Gomasio

yield varies 

4 parts raw cashews (or raw sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp, or ground flax seeds)
.5 part sea salt
1 part dulse flakes, or any other whole dried seaweed (wakame, hijiki, dulse, kelp, etc)
optional: .5 part dried garlic flakes, dried onion flakes, dried chili flakes, or other dried seasoning/spice of choice

Toast the nuts/seeds (omit this step if using pre-toasted seeds or ground flax). Heat a heavy skillet, and pan toast seeds until golden brown, stirring, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and cool.

Grind the seaweed, if using (omit this step if using dulse flakes). Place seaweed in coffee grinder or blender, and pulse until ground evenly into a coarse powder/flakes. Set aside.

Grind the sunflower/pumpkin seeds or nuts (omit step if using sesame, hemp, or ground flax). Place cooled, toasted seeds in coffee grinder/blender, and pulse until ground to sesame seed-sized pieces.

Combine salt, seeds, and optional seaweed or other seasoning, and stir until well mixed. Transfer to tightly closed jar or shaker, and store in the refrigerator for maximum freshness.

Use as a seasoning on anything - great on noodles, cooked grains, vegetables, in homemade sushi rolls, salads, or mixed into dips and spreads. YUM!