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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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


Cucumber Olive Quinoa Salad a.k.a. Kinda Sorta Tabbouli (gluten free, vegan)

I had cucumber and parsley from my garden, beautiful giant pea pods from the farmer's market, a bunch of leftover quinoa, and a container of oil-cured Moroccan olives in my fridge.   Using what I had on hand, I threw together a tasty salad  that is kind of like tabbouli, but isn't really tabbouli.  It was super simple to make, and tastes light and refreshing.  Eaten with some leftover homemade felafel, it made for a delicious Middle Eastern-inspired lunch.   I must post that felafel recipe, it is killer!  Until then, enjoy this quick and tasty summer salad.  The measurements are all pretty flexible, this is how I cook, sorry, just use your best judgement!  If you can eat tomatoes, a few cut up cherry or pear tomatoes added to this would be delicious.  Sadly, I'm allergic, so no more tomatoes for me!

yield: about 3 cups
1 c cooked quinoa
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 big handfuls pea pods, washed and chopped
1/2-1 c packed fresh parsley, finely chopped
about 1/2 Tblsp dried mint (fresh mint would be better, but I didn't have any on hand...)
1/4 c oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
about 1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
optional: 1-2 finely chopped garlic cloves
olive oil
1-2 T chickpea miso (or other miso)
2-4 T water
something acidic: 1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals, a splash of apple cider vinegar, or juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash and prepare your vegetables.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together quinoa and all the vegetables, stirring until evenly combined.  Drizzle generously with olive oil, and stir to coat.
  3. Dissolve miso paste in water in a small bowl until you have a thick liquid, then add the acidic element of your choice, and stir it all together.  Add the miso mixture to the salad, and stir  to coat.  
  4. Adjust seasonings as necessary, adding fresh cracked pepper.
  5. Let sit in fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.  
  6. Serve!  If desired, garnish with more olives, crumbled cheese, toasted pine nuts, halved cherry tomatoes, or toasted cooked chickpeas, as your diet and restrictions allow!



Quinoa Salad with Pesto, Snap Peas, and White Beans (gluten free, vegan)

I love the bounty and beauty of a summer's harvest, and the spontaneity of summer cooking.  Vegetables compliment each other in endless ways, and the joy of mixing new things together, adding whatever gems you pulled from the earth or bought at the weekend market is exhilarating.  My garden is growing - I have harvested tons herbs, lots of kale and chard, and two lovely cucumbers so far.  Soon I will have zucchini, squash, beets, and peas (I planted my peas very late).  Fresh vegetables are like toys; I love finding new ways to play with them.  

Last night I was inspired by an abundance of basil, and whipped up a batch of pesto.  Then my mind wandered to the newly picked kale, the last handfuls of sweet and crunchy snap peas from the farmer's market, and the freshly cooked quinoa cooling in my fridge.  Hmn...sounded like a salad in the making.

This salad tastes like summer and is quick and easy to prepare - perfect for those hot days when you don't feel like cooking.  The mixture of peas, beans, quinoa, kale, and garlicky basil pesto offers up a great combination of flavors and textures.  Plus, this would be a great way to use up leftover quinoa or beans, or could easily be made in larger batches if you are serving a crowd.  Simple, lovely, delicious.  I included my quick and spontaneous recipe for pesto at the bottom; it is vegan and nut free, and takes only minutes to prepare.  Easy!

If you've never used quinoa, give it a try! Quinoa is a nutritional superstar, cooks quickly, and is endlessly versatile.  Just as delicious warm as it is cold, quinoa can be used in many dishes from savory to sweet.  One of my favorite ways to use quinoa is in salads like this, because it readily absorbs the flavors of dressings, and has a chewy, delicious texture that makes a perfect base.  I love to use it in place of bulgar in tabbouli-inspired salads, add a scoop to greens salads, or mix it with a mix of finely chopped roasted and raw vegetables for an easy, throw together meal.   

One important note about quinoa is that it benefits greatly from soaking before cooking.  Before our modern convenience-based lifestyle of quick food preparation and processed foods, grains were traditionally soaked as the first step of preparation.  Soaking starts the sprouting process, which breaks down phytonutrients and also allows for easier assimilation and digestion.  Additionally, quinoa has a natural coating on the seed called saponin, which adds a bitter taste and can irritate digestion. By soaking properly, and rubbing the grains together while rinsing, this coating is removed, improving flavor and making digestion friendlier.   Try getting in the habit of soaking all your whole grains for at least 6-8 hours before cooking - while it requires a little forethought, it is worth the effort.  When I started soaking my grains, I noticed  a great difference in the way I digested them.   They didn't feel as heavy in my system, and I felt as though I was more effectively breaking down the carbohydrates. Sometimes I'll let mine soak for up to 24 hours; while this is by accident most of the time, due to poor planning and only having so many hours in the day to work, play, cook, and eat, it doesn't cause them any harm.  Just make sure to change out the water so it doesn't get swampy.  As a side benefit, soaked grains also cook more quickly than unsoaked grains, and use a little less water while cooking! 

On a totally related note, I'm having a major freak out regarding my camera and the photos for this blog.  The lighting sucks in my kitchen, and my camera is making me crabby because I want a nicer one (doesn't everybody?).  The color balance and contrast of so many of my photos has been totally whack, like this one, and there is only so much you can do to adjust the levels in Photoshop before it just starts looking weird.  I work at a photo studio for heaven's sake, and while I'm not a photographer, I'd like to think I should be putting higher quality photography into the world. So.  There's my little hissy fit.  I want to take better photos for this blog, because they ones I'm taking currently just aren't fitting my artistic vision!!!!


yield: 2 servings

1 c cooked quinoa (red or white)
2 c whole snap peas
4-5 small kale leaves
3/4 c c cooked white beans (great northern, cannellini, navy, etc)
2-4 T fresh or prepared pesto (see pesto recipe below)
salt and pepper to taste
  1. If cooking quinoa fresh, soak about 1/2 c dry quinoa grains for 6-8 hours in a loosely covered bowl.  After soaking, rinse well while rubbing grains together. 
  2. To cook quinoa, place rinsed quinoa and about 1 cup water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and quinoa grains are tender but still intact.  Turn off heat, put cover back on, and let steam for about 15 minutes.  Then remove cover and let cool.  This will make more quinoa than you need for this recipe - no worries!  Leftover quinoa is awesome.  Or just make a bigger batch of salad.
  3. Wash snap peas and kale.  
  4. Steam kale until tender and bright green, about 5 minutes.  Let cool for a minute or two, then squeeze out any excess water.  Slice kale into bite size chunks.
  5. Remove ends from peas, then chop into 1/2"-1" chunks.
  6. If using canned beans, rinse well.
  7. Place cooked and cooled quinoa, kale,  snap peas, and beans in a bowl.  Drizzle with pesto and stir to coat, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, and adding more pesto if desired.
  8. Chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Serve!

NUT-FREE DAIRY-FREE BASIL PESTO (gluten free, vegan, nut free)

This recipe does not include cheese or nuts, like most traditional pestos, but still provides all the great basil flavor. I like add vitamin C crystals for a bright, acidy bite and to help preserve the bright green color of the basil.  If you tolerate citrus (I don't), feel free to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice instead.  Or, don't use either one, and just proceed without!  It will still be delicious.   Enjoy!

HINT:  I like to freeze fresh pesto in ice cube trays, then transfer cubes to a freezer bag for longer storage.  That way I can use a small quantity whenever and however I want!  Nothing is better than pulling out a cube of homemade pesto in the dead of winter, or being able to have some pesto on hand to throw into to last minute dips or sauces.   Perfect if you live alone, need to rotate your diet, make pesto in BIG batches, or have a combination of all three like me.  : )  

yield: about 1 1/2 c pesto  

3 c packed fresh basil
1 - 1 1/2 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
fresh cracked pepper
1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1-2 fresh garlic cloves (or more if you'd like!)
  1. Wash and dry the basil leaves.
  2. Place all ingredients in a blender (start with 1 c olive oil), and blend until smooth.  Add more olive as necessary to reach desired consistency.
  3. Store in a well-sealed jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for longer storage.  


A Tale of Two Granolas and a Sneak Peak of Scones: Crunchy Rice Flake Granola, Sprouted Buckwheat Apple Granola, & Rhubarb Scones (gluten free, vegan)

I really love granola and muesli, but am presently banished from oats (even the GF ones!) due to a mild oat allergy.  Oh my, I've missed the delicious versatility of oats.  Oat flour!  Warm bowls of oatmeal!  Oats in bread and cookies!  Oats in soup!  But most of all, I've missed granola and muesli.  Oh, granola.  How I love concocting new granola recipes.  One of my personal favorites from years back included molasses and currants and crystallized ginger.   I used to churn out some pretty killer batches of granola. 

Yes, I'm hoping to return to oats someday.  Even if I could eat oats now, all my old recipes would be too high in sugar anyway.  So, in the meantime, I've been playing with oat-free, low-sugar granolas, with success!  These are my two most recent experiments, and I'm pretty happy with them, so decided to share.  One is a more traditional-style granola, using rice and and quinoa flakes and baked in the oven.  The other is a sprouted buckwheat g"raw"ola I made in my food dehydrator.  They are both crunchy and delicious, low low low in sugar, and totally satisfy my granola desires!  
I left both of my granolas pretty simple, and did not add nuts, fruit, or seeds.  Since I tend to keep a loose rotation to my diet, keeping things a little more plain allows for more flexibility.  Too many different ingredients gets hard to fit into my low-repetition meal planning style, and I can embellish with whatever other ingredients work that day on a bowl-by-bowl basis.
If you'd like to add nuts, seeds, coconut, fruit, etc to the whole batch, feel free.  Add seeds/nuts to the grain mixture before baking or dehydrating, and add any dried fruits after.  Keep in mind that that you may need to increase the quantity of wet ingredients in both recipes to coat the additional dry ingredients that you choose to add.  
Have fun, enjoy! 
On a different note, over the Memorial Day weekend I baked up some delicious rhubarb scones, served with blackberry coconut cream.  They were warm, crumbly, and divine. Here's a sneak peak.  For more scone-filled deliciousness, page all the way to the bottom of the page, and stay tuned for a scone recipe in the near future...
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This is a mix of brown rice flakes, quinoa flakes, rice bran, and crushed rice cakes.  Crushed rice cakes add a good crunch and some bulk.  My fav rice cakes are the ones by Lundberg Family Farm; I'm sure most of you GF readers are probably intimately familiar with the entire Lundberg rice cake collection!  Use whatever flavor you have on hand in your pantry - my last batch used the Wild Rice (wild rice/brown rice blend), this time I used the Mochi Sweet (brown rice/sweet rice blend).  I think it would be interesting to try using using one of their many flavored varieties - I'm intrigued by the Sweet Green Tea flavor that I've seen lately in stores.   If you don't want to use rice cakes, I think you could substitute any GF crunchy cereal, or maybe even a puffed one. 
This granola is fairly crumbly with a fine, light, crispy texture.  In past experiments, I've done things a little differently, and came out with a more chunky, cluster-filled granola.  Both ways are good; I like how light and crunchy this batch is.  Enjoy!
yield: about 4 cups
1 1/2 c brown rice flakes (I used Eden Organics brand)
1/2 c quinoa flakes
1/2 c rice bran
4 crushed Lundberg rice cakes (any flavor) or about 2 cups GF crisp or puffed cereal, or other GF cereal, like like Nutty Flax, Nutty Rice, or something else
1/4 c fruit puree (I used a nectarine/peach blend)
1/4 c melted coconut oil or light-tasting oil
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional for more flavor)
1-2 T brown rice syrup or agave nectar (optional - helps to stick things together and add a little sweetness, but not necessary)
1 T mesquite flour or cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger/etc
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp stevia
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c ground chia seed
  1. Preheat oven to 325* F, and coat two baking sheets/pans with parchment paper.
  2. Mix rice flakes, quinoa flakes, rice bran, and crushed rice cakes in a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, fruit puree, and vanilla and brown rice syrup, if using.  Add stevia, salt, and spices, and stir until well blended.  Add chia seed, and stir.  This will form a thick paste.
  4. With your hands (yes, your hands!) rub the chia paste into the rice flake mixture until well combined and evenly distributed throughout.  Let sit a few minutes to allow rice flakes to soften.
  5. Spread mixture onto baking sheets and bake for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and rotating pans in oven.  Granola is done when it is dry, golden, and crisp.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in air-tight containers.
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I have been eyeing up the sprouted buckwheat g"raw"nolas I've been seeing in stores lately.  They look so crisp and tasty.  The catch?  Most contain ingredients I can't eat - like lovely chunks of walnuts or sesame seeds or big juicy dried fruit pieces - or are so frighteningly expensive I refuse to buy them.  So, I had decided to make a batch of my own, but didn't quite know how to proceed; I had buckwheat soaking and figured I'd wing it from there.  You can't really screw up too badly with a food dehydrator.  But conveniently, the same day, I stumbled across I Am Gluten Free's recipe for sprouted buckwheat grawola! It provided a great started framework.  This recipe is mildly sweet, with a tasty hint of apple.  I love the light, crispy texture and nutty flavor.  lus it is MUCH more affordable to make than purchasing in the store, and I can actually eat it, which is nice.  : )  I didn't use much agave, so it is also pretty crumbly, which I like.  but f you want something more chunky and full of nuts and stuff, I'd follow the link below to the original recipe on I Am Gluten Free.  She also makes suggestions of what to do if you don't have a dehydrator.  Bon appetit!
Inspired by and adapted from I Am Gluten Free's Grawnola Recipe

yield: 2 cups
1 c dry, unroasted buckwheat groats +  water for soaking
1 small apple, cored and chopped
1/4 c ground flax
1 T mesquite flour or cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger/allspice/etc
1/2-1 T agave nectar 
1 T coconut oil (optional)
splash water
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Rinse buckwheat groats, and place in a large bowl with fresh water.  Lightly cover, and soak for about 12 hours, changing water half way through, if possible.
  2. Strain buckwheat and rinse very well, until no longer gooey and water runs clear.  Set aside and let continue to drain.
  3. In food processor, place apple, flax, seasonings, agave, coconut oil, salt and a splash of water.  Pulse a few times until you have chunky paste.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together sprouted buckwheat and apple flax mixture, stirring until well combined and evenly mixed.
  5. Spread on lightly oiled dehydrator sheets, and dry at 110* for about 12 hours, or until crispy and dry.
  6. Store in an airtight container.


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Here's a sneak peak of the aforementioned rhubarb scones I'm working on.  Served with a tasty blackberry coconut cream, they were the perfect light breakfast, especially paired with a cup of tea and many Scrabble games.  I'd like to make a few adjustments and try them again before posting the recipe, but I thought I'd share the photos.   Stay tuned...



Lost recipe: Indian Spiced Mung Bean Carrot Flatbread (gluten free, vegan, high protein)

I love bread.

You've probably gathered this already from the amount of baking I do.

I made up this bread after making my own roasted mung bean flour, and wanting to use it for something immediately!  The bummer?  Amidst moving to a new apartment, I seem to have lost the recipe.  Damn.  

Like many of you, I write recipes down as I go, scribbling on scrap paper, old envelopes, paid bills, and the inside of cardboard boxes.  I keep track of all these things pretty well.  But sometimes my recipe papers are mistaken for bits of wastepaper, and end up in the recycling bin...like this one.  

This bread was very tasty; it turned out a lot like cornbread, with a great moist texture, a nutty flavor, and a lovely crumb.  Plus, it looks pretty - it had a crackly top, a lovely golden color, and little flecks of orange from shredded carrot.  Using a mix of mung bean flour, quinoa flour, and brown rice flour, this is a high protein bread that should be fairly low on the glycemic index and is full of healthy fiber.  Flavored with cumin, coriander, and turmeric, this bread would be tasty spread with your favorite bean dips, nut or seed butters, or chutneys, or served along side soups and salads.  I'm eating leftovers that I had stashed in the freezer; leftover slices freeze and thaw very well, and it stays moist.  Let thaw at room temperature or defrost in microwave, then pop in a toaster oven so it gets crisp on the outside for an extra-special twist (my favorite!).

I kind of remember the basics, but don't want to guess.  So, I will attempt to recreate this delicious bread, make a few tweaks, and post the recipe as soon as I can!  Until then, the photos will have to suffice.  

Look at the golden, crackly top!  Beautiful.  If only I hadn't lost the darn piece of scrap paper I wrote the recipe on...


Dining al desko: Wild Rice with Hijiki and Carrots (gluten free, vegan)

Susan Jane Murray, one of my favorite food bloggers, wrote the phrase "dining al desko" in one her blogs. I liked it, and am using it as inspiration.

I hate eating at my desk. But I work at a desk. And I need to eat. And sometimes, the two need to happen at the same time.

This is one of my favorite quick and tasty meals to eat at my desk. I like to use chopsticks when I'm eating and working because it makes me think more about eating and chewing and I do it more slowly, instead of mindlessly scarfing down the food while working on a project. Plus chopsticks are fun. And coworkers find it amusing and quirky. This recipe requires just a little prep work at home, but it is fast and simple to throw together if you have the necessary elements prepared.

Basic concept: cooked grain + hijiki + cooked vegetable.

My favorite grain in this dish is broken wild rice. Broken wild rice is less expensive than full grain wild rice, but has all the same benefits - the grain is just broken. Wild rice isn't really rice at all, it is a grass native to North America. It is very high in protein, is a great source of complex carbohydrates, and is high in fiber. The flavor is earthy, rich, and nutty. I love it combined with hijiki - the textures are great together, and the nutty earthy flavor of the wild rice balances well with the saltiness of the seaweed. Hijiki is one of my favorite sea vegetables; I often soak up a big batch of hijiki, or other sea vegetables, and keep them in the fridge for whenever I want them. Sea vegetables are a great addition to a diet - they stimulate the thyroid, are high in fiber, help balance healthy gut bacteria, and are a good source of calcium and iron. Combining sea vegetables with other vegetables is not only delicious, but it also helps the body apsorb all their readily available nutrients! In fact, vitamin C helps the body assimilate both calcium and iron, so carrots make the perfect addition to this dish. Plus, their sweetness rounds out the overall flavor effect.

If I know I want to eat this, I'll usually steam up some carrots the night before while I'm steaming up my dinner veggies. No carrots? Fine! Any veggies will work, whatever you have leftover that you want to use up: green beans, asparagus, green onion, brocolli, squash, sweet potato, zucchini, whatever. The final touch is a bit of flax oil, for healthy fats and good omegas. Sesame oil is really tasty too, if you can tolerate sesame. Do you know that a little healthy fat helps the body absorp vitamin C? What a marvelously balanced dish!

The end result is a high fiber, super nutritious, wonderfully satisfying bowl of goodness. And it will leave you feeling much better than corn chips from the vending machine or leftover bagels from yesterday's meeting.


Wild rice (or any other cooked grain - rice, quinoa, millet, etc)
Hijiki (soaked 30 minutes, rinsed, and drained)
Carrots (or other veggies)
Flax oil (or sesame oil if you tolerate sesame)
optional: tamari (soy-free or soy), Bragg's aminos, or ume vinegar
optional: sprinkle of gomasio (sesame salt, find at asian markets...or see THIS for my non-sesame version!)

Mix it all together in a bowl. Eat greedily, either cold or warm. Feel energized, alert, and awesome!