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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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: Grain Dishes (12)


Paprika Rice (gluten-free, vegan, ACD)


If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring two spices with you, what would they be?

For me, this answer is simple: smoked Spanish paprika and cumin. The rich color, intense flavor, and incredible fragrance of smoked paprika makes my heart swoon, and the complex acrid flavor of cumin makes me weak in the knees. Without these two spices, my kitchen would seriously suffer. So would my taste buds!  They make everything taste good, working wonders on roasted vegetables, meats and poultry, and grain dishes. 

My most recent spiced rice dish exhibits my adoration of smoked Spanish paprika and cumin. It also displays my love for the coriander plant, combining both the dry ground seeds and the fresh leaves (a.k.a. cilantro). These herbs and spices enliven simple ingredients and create a wonderfully flavored dish that accentuates any meal. 

Spiced grain dishes like this one are a great staple for your weekly meal rotation. They are easy to prepare, affordable, nutritious, and wonderfully satisfying. If you have a rice cooker, making grain dishes is even easier, as you can simply flip the switch, walk away, and return to find perfectly cooked rice. I hardly ever cook rice on the stovetop anymore!


Paprika Rice

yield: 6 servings

The rich, alluring flavor of smoked Spanish paprika flavors this dish. It is easy to prepare and very delicious, making it the perfect side dish for just about anything. The flavors are especially good with Mexican or Spanish inspired meals, grilled chicken or tilapia flavored with lime juice and chile powder, or Mexican chorizo. For a quick meal, top hot paprika rice with a fried egg - keep the yolk soft for an extra delicious twist - and serve with sauerkraut. 

  • 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 3 cups water, broth, or mix (I did half and half)
  • 3/4 tsp unrefined salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2-3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro, or more to taste
  • unrefined salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • optional garnishes: extra virgin olive oil, chopped cilantro, smoked Spanish paprika

Soak rice in 6 cups of water for 6-12 hours. Drain rice in a fine colander, and discard water. Rinse rice very well. Place rice in a rice cooker with vegetables, broth/water, olive oil, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander.  Stir together, then place cover on rice cooker and cook per manufacturer's recommendation.

If you don't have a rice cooker, do the same thing but place in a pot on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Let cook about 45 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Remove cover and toss rice with a fork. Add fresh cilantro to hot rice and stir, seasoning with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl, and if desired, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with additional chopped fresh cilantro and a dusting of smoked paprika. Serve.

Store leftovers in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 


Spanish Yellow Rice, Rice-Cooker Style (gluten-free, vegan, ACD)

Yellow Rice served with Spanish Bean Soup

My meal last week at The Columbia Restaurant has put me in the mood for Spanish-inspired food, so I threw together a little Yellow Rice to eat with some homemade Spanish Bean Soup.  Instead of cooking it on the stove top, I made it in the rice cooker, so it was super simple. 

The rice turned out fragrant and flavorful, with a beautiful yellow color, thanks to a mixture of turmeric and Spanish saffron. It was really delicious with the soup; my recipe for Spanish Bean Soup was inspired by a soup I had at The Columbia, and it was great.  I only had Hungarian paprika, so I need to get over to Penzey's for some pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika) and make the soup again.  It contains chorizo and ham (I am breaking the "no sugar" rule to indulge in some local ham!), so vegans and vegetarians, don't hold your breath for this one.  After I give it another go, I'll share the recipe with you.

In the meantime, enjoy some delicious Spanish Yellow Rice!  My housemates both loved it.


Spanish Yellow Rice, Rice-Cooker Style

serves 6-8 | adapted from Emeril Lagasse

This recipe has a subtle flavor that would go well with a wide variety of cuisines, but is especially excellent with beans or other Spanish cuisine. Use high-quality saffron to get the best flavor - good saffron is worth the extra money. Penzey's is a good source of spices if you don't have good spice shops or kitchen shops locally - you can order online.

  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice, soaked in water 8-12 hours, drained, and rinsed
  • 1/2 large sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 pinches cinnamon
  • large pinch high-quality saffron threads, crushed
  • 4 cups chicken stock, vegetable broth, or filtered water (broth/stock will lend a better flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, ghee, or butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a rice cooker, cover, and cook per manufacturer's instructions. After cooking is complete, let sit covered and undisturbed for 10-20 minutes. The fluff with a fork and serve!  If desired, garnish with green peas, thinly sliced green onions, thinly sliced red pepper, or fresh cilantro. 



Amaranth Basmati Pilaf with Cumin and Scallions, Easy Zucchini Curry (gluten free, vegan)

I am always a sucker for spiced pilafs and tasty vegetable curries.  This is my latest favorite combination.  The pilaf uses a mixture of brown basmati rice and amaranth, a high protein, very tiny seed.  The amaranth lends a slightly nutty and sticky texture to the rice, and everything is delicately flavored with fragrant spices.  Amaranth is full of amino acids and healthy protein, and this is a great way to add it to your diet.  As for the curry, it is just a quick little number I whipped up, featuring tender vegetables swimming in a flavorful chickpea flour sauce.  Chickpea flour is a natural for thickening curries, adding a nutty flavor and thick, creamy consistency.  Full of vitamins, minerals, and loads of flavor, both these dishes are great by themselves, but are perfect served together.   Enjoy!



serves 4

1 c brown basmati rice, soaked 6-8 hours
1/4 c amaranth grain
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
4 cardamom pods, bruised
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
4 scallions, sliced into 1/4" pieces, and white, light green, and green parts separated
2 tsp coconut oil, ghee (not vegan), sunflower oil, or other high-heat oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
water or stock for cooking (see instructions for quantity)
optional: 1 inch piece ginger, minced
optional: 1 cinnamon stick

  1. Rinse and soak rice for 6-8 hours in fresh water.  After soaking, drain and rinse, and set aside.
  2. Heat ghee/oil in a saucepan or in a pressure cooker kettle over medium-low heat, then add cumin and mustard seeds, and stir to coat with oil.  Heat until they start to pop.  If adding minced ginger, add now, and saute.
  3. Add cardamom pods, white and light green parts of scallion and chopped garlic, and saute over low heat until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Set chopped green scallion tops aside.
  4. Add brown rice and amaranth, and saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and nutty smelling.
  5. Add water, salt, cinnamon stick (if using) and cook rice...
    • If cooking in a rice cooker: transfer to rice/spice mixture to cooker and add recommended amount water per manufacturer's instructions.  Cook and steam per user's manual.
    • If cooking in a pressure cooker (my favorite): add 2 1/4 c water and cook at 15 lbs pressure for 12 minutes.  Turn off heat and let rice steam for 20 minutes before removing cover.
    • If cooking on the stove top, add 2 1/4 c water, cover, and simmer on low for 30-40 minutes, until water is absorbed and grains are tender.  Turn off heat and let steam for 20 minutes.
  6. After rice has cooked and steamed, remove cover and fluff with a fork.  Remove cinnamon stick, if added. Stir in green scallion pieces, put cover back on, and let sit for a minute or two to wilt scallion.
  7. Serve immediately!


serves 4

While this curry is wonderfully flavorful on its own, in an ideal world, I would add a little heat - like a green chili, or a bunch of cayenne.  Unfortunately,  I can't go there right now.  But if you can, and you like heat, go to town!
3 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced (about 2 1/2-3 cups)
3 small carrots, sliced (about 1 cup)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 c frozen peas
2 c napa or savoy cabbage, chopped (cabbage or greens can be substituted)
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 T ground coriander
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp dill
2 T toasted chickpea/besan flour
2 c + 1/4 c water
1-2 T ghee (not vegan), coconut oil, sunflower oil, or other high heat oil
1 tsp ume vinegar OR salt to taste
optional: 1 green chili, chopped
optional: fresh chopped cilantro
  1. Wash and prepare vegetables as directed.
  2. In a dry skillet, toast chickpea flour over medium low heat until fragrant and nutty.  Remove from skillet, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.  If you don't want to toast it, no worries - toasting just adds a deeper flavor.
  3. Heat ghee/oil in a large saucepan  Add cumin and mustard seeds, and heat over medium-low heat until they pop.  Add turmeric, and stir until it bubbles.  Add onion and stir, adding a bit more ghee if dry. Saute 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add carrots and zucchini, coriander, cardamom, dill, and 1/4 c water.  Stir to mix, and saute for 2-3 minutes.  While it sautes, dissolve chickpea flour in 2 cups of water.
  5. Add water to saucepan, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, add cabbage, peas, and chili if using, and cook uncovered until vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened.
  6. Add ume vinegar or salt to taste, and let cool 2-3 minutes before serving.  Serve over pilaf or other grain dish, or with flatbreads.



Easy Rice Cooker Vegetable Pullao (gluten free, vegan option)

In high school, between youth symphony rehearsal, viola lessons, school newspaper editing sessions, volunteer tutoring, and all my homework, I was a busy girl. A busy vegetarian girl. A busy vegetarian girl who wanted to eat all-natural foods and liked ethnic cuisine and vegetables. This only complicated matters - keep in mind, this was back in the mid-late '90s, in a conservative, blue-collar, medium-sized town in the heart of Wisconsin. Easy vegetarian options were not in abundance, nor were ethnic foods, and widespread awareness of such choices was somewhat minimal.

Sure, the grocery store had some veggie burgers and fake chicken nuggets, the occasional container of soy milk, containers of tofu, and a mediocre selection of all natural canned and boxed items (Annie's mac & cheese, Thai Kitchen noodle meals, etc), but the options were really limited and it was a generally bleak environment. So, my supportive parents and I bought cookbooks - my first one was Molly Katzen's classic Moosewood Cookbook. Like all fledgling vegetarians, I learned how to use tofu (tofu 'egg' salad!), cook with more beans (homemade felafel!), and tried out all sorts of interesting vegetarian recipes (mock duck curry!). And of course, I tried out every meat substitute and soy protein bar on the market (some of those were AWFUL!). These days, the climate in Oshkosh, Wisconsin is much improved, and the local grocery stores have definitely broadened their selection. Heck, you can get stuff in bulk, they have goat yogurt, and there are whole sections dedicated to gluten-free foods. Visiting home has become a much more enjoyable culinary experience in the last few years, especially after I started eating meat.

But back in the day, a highlight of my hometown grocery store's selection was these awesome frozen, bagged ethnic rice and vegetable dishes. I remember them being so delicious, and they were my standby meal solution after long. My favorite one was a pullao with lentils, currants, rice, onions, carrots, and loads of spices. There was also a tasty curry version with other veggies. I would add more vegetables or throw in chunks of tofu or veggie burgers, and eat up. I adored the spicy, exotic flavors, and since I had a serious fascination with all things from the Middle East and India (I thought myself quite worldly), eating food inspired by those ethnic cuisines only fueled my adolescent curiousity for all things exotic. Additionally, and most importantly, they provided good vegetarian nourishment - those thing got me through a substantial part of high school, and I actually missed them when I left for college. I tried recreating such dishes in the woks in my college cafeteria, and with my rice cooker or hot pot in my dorm room. Sadly, dorm fridges don't allow the freezer space necessary for frozen bagged meals.

Thankfully, the days of makeshift dorm room cooking are over, and I have a real kitchen all to myself that I can cook in. And I've seen similar looking frozen rice & veg meals at Trader Joe's, but I've never tried them. Why? Because now I know that it is totally simple to make your own pullao, much cheaper, and more friendly for those of us with dietary restrictions. I can't use a lot of the spices traditionally used in different pullaos and biryanis, like cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, or ginger. Because I have a edited assortment of spices that work for me, I come up with my own combinations and modify other recipes. This pullao is a mixture of cumin, fennel, cardamom, peppercorn, saffron, and star anise. Yum.

For the vegetables, I used a combination of green cauliflower and zucchini, but this recipe could handle just about any veg you'd throw at it. I honestly had the largest yellow zucchini I've ever seen to use - this recipe made nary a dent in that thing. It rained here last week, and I was busy with class and a wedding, and didn't get to my garden for about 6 days. I returned to see the monster in the picture to the left. It is like a roast or a ham or something. It was challenging to hold it up for the photo! Anyway, I also wanted to add peas, but I am housesitting and forgot that I don't have my normal stash of frozen peas. Next time, maybe with some squash, or carrots. Get creative, or just clean out your crisper drawer or CSA box, anything will work. I also decided to throw in some dried fruit and nuts, like many traditional pullaos. For dinner, I opted for raisins and sunflower seeds, but you could try any combination of fruits and nuts/seeds. How about dried apricots and almonds? Or golden raisins and cashews? Or goji berries and pumpkin seeds? The opportunities are endless! Or don't add them at all, and stick with just rice and veggies.

Either way, the finished dish will be beautiful - the vegetables and whole spices look like jewels peeking out between the grains of rice. Serve this pullao as a simple meal on its own, with a salad, along side a protein dish, or with stewed, sauteed greens. Nicely spiced, full of veggies, and with a hint of sweet from the dried fruit, and a nutty flavor from the toasted seeds, this recipe is a winner. I can't wait to eat leftovers tomorrow for lunch - I plan to garnish it with cashews and dried apricots, and eat with a side of collards. Yum.
The best part about this recipe is that it is EASY - I cheated and cooked it in a rice cooker, which was totally simple, and yielded perfectly cooked rice. If you eat gluten free, and you don't have a rice cooker, you really should. It is truly heaven-sent - rice cooks quickly, perfectly, and easily, every time.

If you like Indian food, check out this link. It has tons of great Indian rice, bean, and vegetable dishes, as well as sweet treats. Some don't work with a lot of restrictions, but many do, so check it out! http://www.nandyala.org/mahanandi/ 
EASY RICE COOKER VEGETABLE PULLAO (gluten free, vegan option)
serves 4

1 c brown basmati rice
2 T coconut oil or ghee/butter (I used a bit of both)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 green cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 star anise
2 whole cloves (if tolerated, I didn't include, but if you can, do it!)
1 cinnamon stick (if tolerated, I didn't include, but if you can, do it!)
10-12 whole peppercorns
pinch saffron
3-4 c chopped assorted vegetables (zucchini, cauliflower, peas, carrots, green beans, eggplant, peppers, etc)
2 c water
1/4 c raisins, currants, goji berries, or snipped dried apricots
1/4 c chopped almonds, cashews, or sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Rinse and soak rice for 6-8 hours. After soaking, rinse well and drain.

In a large saucepan, heat up oil. Add spices, and saute for a 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic, stir to coat with oil, and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Add drained rice and chopped vegetables and peas, stir, and saute for about 5 minutes.

Put saffron in 1 1/2 c water and let soak while the veggies are sauteeing. Transfer the rice/veg mixture to the rice cooker and add the saffron water. Deglaze the saucepan by adding the remaining 1/2 c water to the saucepan and bringing it to a boil, scraping off any pieces of onion or spices that may have stuck to the pan, then pour it into the rice cooker with the rest of the ingredients.

Place cover on rice cooker, and set to cook following rice cooker instructions. Sit back and relax while your kitchen fills with the perfume of fragrant spices. After rice has finished cooking, leave cover on, and let it steam undisturbed for about 20 minutes.

Lightly saute chopped nuts and fruit in little oil/butter for a few minutes, then remove from heat. Fluff steamed pullao, and transfer it to large serving dish or make individual servings. Garnish pullao with nuts and fruit, then serve!



Millet Tabouli with Roasted Red Pepper and Olives (gluten free, vegan, tomato free, lemon free)

Tabouli has always been one of my favorite foods. Back in the day, I loved making it traditional-style with bulgar, or sometimes used cous cous. When I discovered quinoa, I started making it with that, and when millet entered the picture, I started using millet. I always loved the light bright flavor, the crunch of cucumber, the juicy chunks of tomato, and the acidic bit of fresh lemon. These days, however, my tabouli is a little different - it turns out I'm allergic to tomato and lemon, two quintessential ingredients in any classic tabouli. So, I've made adjustments to my formula, and often substitute red pepper for tomato, and use dissolved vitamin C crystals for the acidic bite instead of lemon. Is it the same tabouli I used to make and love? No. But I'm not the same either. We all change, and so has my tabouli! I made this version of tabouli for my friend Lauren's bridal shower yesterday, and thought I'd share it with you. I threw in a few Moroccan oil-cured olives, roasted red pepper, and roasted garlic. The rich, nutty flavor of the roasted garlic added a nice twist, and the saltiness of the olives was balanced by the bright crunch of cucumber and the lightness of the mint. It was a hit at the party, and everyone loved it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
MILLET TABOULI/TABBOULEH WITH ROASTED RED PEPPER AND OLIVES (gluten free, vegan, tomato free, lemon free)
1 c dry millet, soaked 6-8 hours in water
1 c packed chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c packed chopped fresh mint
1 cucumber, finely chopped (about 2 c)
2 roasted red peppers, finely sliced (about 1/2 cup) or 1 raw red pepper, chopped
6 scallions (white and green parts), finely chopped
5 roasted garlic cloves, finely chopped or 1-2 raw cloves, minced
1/2 c oil-cured black olives, pitted and sliced
2 tsp vitamin C crystals dissolved in 2 T water
1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  1. Soak millet in water for 6-8 hours. Rinse well, drain, and place millet in a large saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and toast grains, stirring frequently, until they start to smell nutty. Add 3 1/4 c water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Millet grains should be soft, but still seperate - you want it fluffy, like couscous. Turn off heat, put cover back on, and let steam for another 15 minutes. Remove cover, fluff millet, and then let cool completely (I like to spread it out in a large cake pan to cool quickly).
  2. Prepare vegetables. Wash and chop parsley, mint, cucumber, and scallions. Slice roasted red peppers and roasted garlic cloves, and pit and slice olives.
  3. Place cooled millet in a large bowl, and break apart until grains are separated and fluffy. Add vegetables, olives, and herbs, and stir a few times. Add olive oil and dissolved vitamin C crystal water, and stir until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve immediately, or for best flavor, place in refrigerator and let sit for a few hours or as long as 1 day.

Plum Apricot Tart (gluten free, egg free, low sugar, vegan option)
Basil and Garlic Scape Pesto (gluten free, nut free)