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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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: Lacto-Fermented/Cultured Foods (18)


Lacto-Fermented Pickled Chard Stems (gluten-free, vegan, raw, ACD, vinegar-free)

I've been curious about vinegar-free pickled chard stems for quite some time.  I saw a recipe while perusing books down at the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, and thought it sounded like the most brilliant idea. I think the recipes was in the book Preserving Foods without Canning or Freezing, a wonderful collection of wisdom from the gardens and farmers of Terre Vivant in France. This book has been on my wishlist for ages (hint, hint), but I just haven't gotten around to purchasing it.  

Despite my lack of a recipe for these phantom chard stem pickles, I couldn't shake the idea, and knew I'd have to try it out someday. I generally incorporate chard stems into whatever dish I'm making with our trusty leafy friend. Waste not, want not, right?  Then the other day I made an experimental batch of collard, kale, mustard and chard greens sauerkraut with homegrown produce from my garden, and ended up with a ton of leftover chard stems. Finally, fodder for pickles!

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"It's Alive!": Cultured Kohlrabi Sauerkraut and a few tips and tricks (gluten-free, vegan, raw, ACD)

I needed to clear out my crisper before heading out to New York City a couple of weeks ago.   I decided to whip up a two batches of cultured vegetables, my absolute favorite way to preserve the harvest.  

A friend recently told me that Common Roots Cafe, a local organic restaurant, is serving grated pickled kohlrabi with their entrees.  Inspired, I decided to embark on a pickled grated kohlrabi adventure of my own, a departure from my usual pickled kohlrabi spears (from this recipe or this recipe).  I combined shredded kohlrabi with red cabbage,  scallions, and red pepper flakes, inspired by the flavors of kimchee and Japanese sauerkraut, sealed up the jars, and hoped for the best.  

a portrait of kohlrabi

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Fresh, local, and gluten-free: two farmer's market fresh recipes

Purple kohlrabi and Cultured Kohlrabi "Pickles"

I had quite the day yesterday at the Minneapolis Farmers Market.  I kicked it all off at 8 am on the Fresh & Local Show as a guest.  I was on the Fresh & Local Show last summer and was so flattered to be asked back for another show.  The Fresh & Local Show is sponsored by the Minnesota Vegetable Grower's Association, and features weekly guests to talk about gardening, seasonal produce, and the farmers market. Susan Berkson and Bonnie Dehn, the joyful and knowledgeable hosts, are so much fun, and I loved being able to spend time with them talking about food, gardening, and cooking. As it turned out, one of the other guests, Mary Maguire Lehrman, also has chronic Lyme Disease, so we even got to do a little educating about Lyme.  

The radio program will be available to download online early this week, so check out this link and look for the dated broadcasts if you want to listen! 

After the broadcast, we all sat down and shared in a wonderful fresh fruit tart that I made.  It was covered in fresh fruit, including red currants I picked from my garden, had a rich cashew lemon cream filling, and a lovely oatmeal and coconut flour crust. I'll post the recipe eventually.  In the meantime, feast your eyes!

fresh fruit tart...you'll get the recipe eventually, i promise

Then I hopped in my car and drove to the Minneapolis Farmers Market. I threw on my apron and led my very first live cooking demo for the weekly Market Talk in a segment called "Fresh, Local, and Gluten-Free".  It was so much fun! I used fresh market produce to demonstrate two recipes: Cultured Kohlrabi Dill Pickles and Sauteed Zucchini with Garlic Scape Spinach Pesto.  I also shared hints and suggestions for creating allergy-friendly meals using fresh food from the market and pantry staples.  It was a yummy seasonal food extravaganza!  Everyone watching the demo got to sample my creations.  The crowd loved it - even the fermented pickles!  People really enjoyed the demonstration and were very engaged, and I had a good, consistent crowd through the whole hour-long demonstration.

I was thankful to have two great event organizers, Sandy Hill and Rachele Cermak, to help out that day, serving up samples and prompting me with questions and discussion points. It made my first demonstration much easier to do!   I was happy to see Sandy licking leftover pesto off her fingers after cleaning out the food processor.  Neither of them believed that it was my first time doing a live demonstration, and told me I should have a cooking show, which made me blush. They were very flattering! I think I may be doing another demonstration at the market this fall, so stay tuned! 

Sauteed zucchini with garlic scape and spinach pesto

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Homemade Rice Milk and Variations (vegan, gluten free, ACD)

This week's Blogger Secret Ingredient event, hosted by Mo's Kitchen, is focused around rice.  I've been sitting on half-completed version of this rice-centric post for a couple of months now, and thought it was the perfect time to pull it out of the wings and finish it up.  

First of all, I just have to get this out there: in my heart of hearts, I have nothing against dairy.  Unfortunately, my digestive system disagrees with my heart, and my digestive system wins the argument.  But I love the stuff. I grew up in Wisconsin eating cheese (and coincidently, dealing with lots of stomach cramps).  If I had my druthers, I'd be out buying raw milk for homemade kefir, baking with buttermilk, eating Greek yogurt, scarfing down cave-aged chevre, and drinking coffee laced with half & half.  Plus, I have a romance with those charming little milk bottles, and have daydreams of owning a herd of dairy goats (if only goats came in lactose-free breeds...). 

In my opinion, all those store-bought milk substitutes will never be as good and wholesome as real, pure milk products from responsibly raised dairy animals.  I know that many people will disagree with me on that, but I hold firm.  Really, look at the ingredients next time you pick up that carton of fake milk - you'll see added oils, thickeners, stabilizers, and sweeteners, even in the organic ones. Many of them are nothing but refined carbohydrates and simple sugars.  I want the purity of real milk, something simple, without carageenan or xanthan gum or safflower oil or guar gum or sweeteners or whatever other stuff they throw in there.

Then one day it dawned on me - why not try making my own rice milk?  I make almost everything else from scratch - broth, bouillon, carob chips, flour, baking powder, just to name a few.   I really hate paying so much money for something that offers little to no nutritional value, is massively processed, uses non-recyclable landfill-clogging packaging, and sometimes doesn't even taste that good.   I figured it couldn't be much more complicated than rice and water, right?  Why not give it a go?

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Homemade Amazaké and some tasty ways to use it! (gluten free, vegan)


So, a couple weeks ago I was on South River Miso's  website, ordering a couple of bottles of gluten free, soy free tamari.

Wait, WHAT?!?!?!  SOY FREE SOY SAUCE?  Seriously?  

Yeah, it is true - South River Miso makes gluten free soy free tamari out of chickpeas.   Not familiar with South River Miso?  Well, now is the time to get familiar - they are a great little company in Massachusettes that makes small batches of delicious misos by hand.  Most of their misos are soy-based, but they also make two delicious soy-free varieties: azuki and chickpea.   Since tamari is a byproduct of the miso-making process, those clever folks use their soy free misos to make a soy-free tamari.  Brilliant!  After loving the misos for ages, I found out about the tamari last year, and completely fell in love with their azuki variety. I stretched that bottle out over the course of about 10 months, treating each drop like liquid gold.  Once the new batch of chickpea tamari was available for purchase, I had to jump at the chance to order a couple of bottles.  It is incredible; salty, rich, almost buttery.

Anyway, while I was tamari shopping, I was hit with the realization that I needed to buy something else to reach the $25 purchase minimum.   Last time I bought something on South River's site, I picked up a copy of the The Little Book of Miso as a way to reach that tricky $25; it is loaded with awesome recipes that all use miso. But, since I already had the book, I needed something else, and not eating soy, my options were limited. Then I saw the jackpot: BROWN RICE KOJI!

What's koji, you ask? 

Koji is Aspergillus oryzae , a special type of mold. Rice is treated with koji, and is then used as a starter to ferment a variety of traditional Japanese foods, like miso, tamari, saké, and amazaké. While most people are familiar with the first three, amazaké is slightly less well-known, but is my absolute new favorite of the bunch. It is made of cooked rice that has been fermented with koji-treated rice, and is served as a fermented beverage or can be served like a pudding. The enzymes created during the fermentation process break down the rice starch into unrefined sugars, resulting in a sweet liquidy mash. Here's a nice description from our friends at South River Miso : "Amazaké (pronounced ah-mah-ZAH-kay) means literally "sweet sake". It is a delicious, creamy hot rice drink with a "...rich, ambrosial flavor...most popular during the winter months, especially at New Year’s. Rich in natural sugars, it has long served as a sweetening agent in Japanese cookery." It can be used in place of sugar in many recipes, and is especially nice for baking." Traditionally, amazaké was served as a simple beverage, sometimes as street food, but has since gained popularity in desserts, puddings, and in other foods. And not only is it delicious, amazaké is super easy to digest because all those enzymes start digesting the grain during the fermentation process!

I've been intrigued by amazaké ever since reading about it in Paul Pitchford's Healing with Whole Foods last year.   I wanted to try it, and started a search.  Grainnassance makes very tasty looking amazaké shakes that are sold at tons of grocery stores and food co-ops.  But unfortunately, I couldn't find their pure rice amazaké anywhere, just blends containing nuts or other ingredients I can't eat, and all of their amazaké contains xanthan gum, which I avoid.   I wanted to try making it myself, but finding koji culture seemed even trickier than finding amazaké.  Sure, I figured I could find it online somewhere, but it wasn't a really urgent issue, and the desire to make it faded away to the back of my mind.  FAded away, that is, until I stumbled across the koji on my tamari shopping spree.  Suddenly, all my amazaké yearnings flooded back, and I knew it was meant to be.

I love fermenting things.   Knowing that all sorts of friendly little friendly are hard at work long after I'm done is a wonderfully satisfying feeling.  It's kind of like at work when you pass off a project to the next person in the process, knowing you've done you're part and now it is up to someone else to finish the job.

I checked on it a few times while it fermented, stirring it and smelling the sweet yeasty goodness.  After about 9 hours, I tasted it.  What an amazing transformation!  It was incredibly sweet, with a deep, nutty flavor that was totally out of this world.  The grains had softened, and after stirring the mixture, it became a thick mush. Per the instructions, I simmered it with water to stop fermentation, and was left with a thick, creamy porridge.  This was the most amazing rice pudding I'd ever tasted in my life, thick and sweet and super flavorful - who knew rice, water, and fancy mold could do that?!  I was now the proud owner of about 5 cups of homemade amazaké base.  Hurrah!

The next morning, I made a warm amazaké latté, blending some of the base with water and a scoop of Dandy Blend (gluten free dandelion beverage, see note about it at the bottom of this post).  It was totally kick ass.  I can't wait to try making a hot amazaké carob drink.  After the success with the latté, I have been experimenting with other ways to use it and have been thinking of many more tasty recipes ideas - salad dressings, gravies, smoothies, custards, oh my!  I have a little recipe for amazaké muffins up my sleeve that might get whipped out tonight.  Ooooh, more amazaké recipes to come!

So, is it Candida friendly?  Um, not so much;  the naturally occurring sugars that show up after the fermentation process are probably much higher than I'd like to know, and the koji culture is mold and smells pretty darn yeasty.  This, by all accounts, is totally not in the ACD plan.  However, now that I know I have Lyme Disease, my guess is that these symptom flare ups have more to do with Lyme than Candida.  Despite this, I know I still need to watch my sugar and yeast intake, especially once I start on antibiotics; I have felt better the last couple weeks without eating fruit or any simple sugars.  But c'est la vie, I'm gonna cheat a little with this, and see how it goes - moderation is the trick, right?  ; )



adapted from South River Miso amazaké recipe: http://www.southrivermiso.com/store/pg/22-Amazake.html

yield about 5 cups amazaké base

2 1/2 cups dry short brown rice (4 cups cooked)
1 1/2 cups brown rice koji
water for cooking + 2 c filtered water

Helpful Equipment:
thermometer (helpful for monitoring temperatures)
heating pad or hot water bags/bottles
cooler or insulated bag


  1. Cook brown rice per desired method.  Once done, stir rice from top to bottom to mix.  Transfer 4 cups of cooked, hot brown rice to a clean glass or ceramic bowl, and let it cool to between 110* F - 130* F, stirring occassionally (about 5-10 minutes).
  2. Stir koji into brown rice, mixing quickly so rice does not cool too much.  You want the rice/koji mixture to almost fill the bowl so the heat is conserved.  The mixture will be thick, but will get thinner/more mushy as it ferments.  Cover the bowl immediately.
  3. Put bowl in a warm place for 5-10 hours, trying to keep the temperature of the rice between 115*-130*.  Ways to do this:
    1. You can incubate Amazaké in the bottom of your oven over the pilot light. 
    2. You can also use a hot water bath with a larger bowl, keeping the water 130-140º F.
    3. MY METHOD: Wrap bowl in an electric heating pad (hot water bottles might work too) and put in an insulated cooler or cooler bag.  Make sure the heating pad stays turned on as much as possible - or if using hot water bags, refill often with hot water.
  4. Stir mixture every couple of hours with a sterilized wooden or plastic spoon (metal is too reactive and will do weird things to fermentation).  The grain should become softer and smell sweet if it is fermenting properly.  If after 5 hours it is not sufficiently sweet to your taste, let it ferment 2-4 hours longer. When the fermentation is complete, the mixture will be sweet tasting, and the individual grains will be soft.  If you let it ferment too long, it will become swampy and alcohol will develop, so make sure to watch it closely near the end!
  5. Once your amazaké is done, you need to stop fermentation by cooking it.  Heat 2 cups of filtered water in a saucepan until it simmers.  Add amazaké to water and stir to mix, then bring to a simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes on low, stirring often so it doesn't burn or stick.  Store mixture in sterilized glass jars.  Will keep for about 1 week, and it can be frozen.


  • Original recipe called for 3 cups of uncooked rice to get 4 cups of cooked rice.  I ended up with a TON of extra rice, so I brought down the quantity to 2 1/2 cups uncooked rice.  
  • I fermented it for about 9 hours, my temperature was probably closer to 110-120*. It tasted very sweet and was quite soft and mushy, so it seemed done to me.  My amazaké did not turn super liquidy during fermentation - just very moist and mushy.
  • You can use any cooked grain - I will be trying millet next batch!
  • Like any fermentation projects, use very clean utensils, bowls, and storage jars so you don't grow any funky bacteria.


recipe from South River Miso

Mix 1 part amazaké base with 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 c water in a saucepan and just bring to a boil.  Season with a pinch of salt, and serve in cups.  If desired, top each serving with a dab of grated gingerroot.


yield 1 serving

1/2 c amazaké base
1 c hot water + 1 scoop Dandy Blend instant dandelion beverage, to taste
1 c brewed coffee, Teeccino , chai tea, or other GF grain coffee

Please all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Transfer to saucepan and heat, stirring often to prevent burning.  Pour into a warmed mug and serve!


 From South River Miso:
"Substitute 3 1/2 tablespoons Amazaké base for 1 tablespoon honey (or 2 tablespoons sugar) in any of your favorite preparations. Rich in enzymes, it is especially good in breads, cakes, pancakes, waffles, or muffins where it assists in the leavening process and adds a rich moistness."


Q. DandyBlend contains barley and rye. So, how can it contain no detectable gluten?


A. DandyBlend is made from extracts of barley and rye, not from barley and rye themselves. The roasted grains are mixed with the roasted roots, are ground, and then the water-soluble components (nutrients, minerals, biologically active substances) are leached out of the mash by hot water, just like you do when making tea. The liquid extract which is collected at the bottom is then spray dried to make the powder which we then call DandyBlend. Why no gluten? Gluten is not water soluble; it only dissolves in alcohol. Therefore, since no alcohol is used in the extracting process, all the gluten stays back in the mash. Tests done by Eliza-Tek Laboratories confirm the absence of detectable gluten in Dandy Blend.

Answer taken from http://www.dandyblend.com/faq.htm