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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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: Main Course (42)


Spicy Zucchini and Chana Dal (gluten free, vegan, high protein)

Indian food brings me to my knees.  And a few days ago, I had a hankering for something warm and beany and full of cumin.  So I pulled out my big jar of dry chana dal, and put some in a bowl to soak.  As I gazed at the hopeful dry beans, I wondered what sort of Indian concoction I'd come up with the next day...

Chana dal, also known as Bengal gram dal, is a split bean that is very popular in India, very closely related to the chickpea, but more similar in appearance to a yellow split pea.  Chana dal is harvested when young, and is smaller and sweeter than the chickpea.  While it still requires soaking, it cooks down fairly quickly into something smooth and creamy, similar to moong dal,  split peas, or lentils.   Best, yet, chana dal  is high in fiber and iron, provides a whopping 10 g of protein per 1/4 c of dry beans, and is even recommended to people with diabetes as a healthy, low glycemic option!  

I decided to adapt a chana dal recipe from The Ayurvedic Cookbook, one of my favorite recipe books.  Not only is this book full of wonderful Indian recipes, it also provides very good information about ayurvedic philosphies and the healing properties of foods.  I love that the recipes use simple ingredients and techniques, but yield such complex flavors and textures.
The original recipe called for scallopini or summer squash; I had zucchini on hand and used that instead, changed the proportions of some of the ingredients, and left out what I can't eat (curry powder and green chili).    I served it up over some cooked buckwheat groats with salad of raw collards and sunflower sprouts on the side, and greedily at it for lunch.   Warmly spiced and very flavorful, this recipe is a hit.  I'll be freezing leftovers for later (bean dishes freeze very well!), but will have to make this sometime for friends - it makes a ton, and is super affordable to make, so it would be a cheap and easy dinner party option!

SPICY ZUCCHINI AND CHANA DAL (gluten free, vegan, high protein)
adapted from The Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amadea Morningstar and U. Desai

yield: 4-6 servings
1 c chana dal, soaked 
2 medium zucchini
6 c water
2 T sunflower oil
2 t mustard seeds
1 t turmeric
2 t cumin
2 t salt
2 T coriander powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
  1. Soak the chana dal in water overnight or for at least 8 hours.  Drain and discard the water, and rinse the chana dal.
  2. Place 6 cups of fresh water and the soaked chana dal in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil.  Skim off foam, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until chana dal is soft, and most of the water has been absorbed, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours, depending on your dal.  Remove from heat, and set aside.
  3. Wash and cut zucchini into 1" cubes.  
  4. In a deep skillet, heat oil, then add mustard seeds.  When the mustard seeds pop, add the turmeric and zucchini, and stir.  Then add remaining ingredients.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, adding a little water if necessary to avoid sticking.
  5. Add cooked chana dal, cover, and cook for 5-10 minutes more over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  6. Serve warm with grains, greens, or flatbreads.  Enjoy!



Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash, Arugula, and Pesto (gluten free, egg free, dairy free)

My lunch was the envy of coworkers today.  Juicy turkey meatballs, fragrant pesto, bright green arugula over threads of yellow squash - perfect lunch for a sunny spring day.  And SUPER easy.  I threw it together quickly this morning before work.  Last night I cooked some spaghetti squash, and had that ready to go. This morning, it was as easy as 1-2-3: throw some cooked spaghetti squash in a container, top with leftover frozen turkey meatballs and frozen cubes of pesto I made a few weeks ago, and put some arugula in a bag to add later.  Lunch time came, I heated it up, added the torn arugula, and it was ready in minutes.  I love easy lunches.

It would be even better prepared fresh and served immediately to friends and family!  Either make the pesto yourself (lots of recipes exist online - or try mine!) or purchase one of the many jarred, pre-prepared varieties available at your local grocer.  Pesto freezes like a dream - just use an ice cube tray, or, silicon candy mold or ice cube tray.  SIlicon is the easiest, especially for sauces.  Freeze into measured cubes and then transfer to a freezer bag for longer storage.  Easy!!!

Spaghetti squash makes a great, low-carb pasta replacement.  Since it has a very mild flavor, it picks up whatever seasonings you put it with.  If you've never tried it, I totally recommend it - instead of thick, orange flesh like regular winter squash, its flesh is yellow and separates like spaghetti once cooked.  I use it like pasta, add it to casseroles and soups, and have even been know to roll it up in nori with oil-packed sardines and fresh herbs...


serves 2

2 c cooked spaghetti squash (about 1/2 large squash)
1/2  lb ground turkey
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T onion, minced
1 T olive oil
dash ground mustard
dash dried/fresh basil
dash sea salt/fresh cracked pepper
a couple handfuls arugula, roughly torn
2-4 T pesto, to taste (jarred or fresh)
  1. Half squash and scoop out seeds.  Then, cook squash by preferred method.  Bake at 350, covered and with a little water in the pan, for about an hour OR place in a microwave safe dish with a little water, cover, and microwave for 8-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your squash.  Spaghetti squash is done when you can easily separate the strands of squash with a fork.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine turkey, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and mustard until well mixed.  Grab little chunks of meat and roll into balls about 1 1/2 inch in diameter.  
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with a little oil.  Place meatballs in skillet and brown, stirring occassionally.  Cover skillet and let meatballs cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occassionally, until they are no longer pink the middle.
  4. Once meatballs and spaghetti squash are done, toss in a large bowl with arugula and pesto sauce.
  5. Serve!



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!



Salmon Stuffed Baked Collard Rolls with Red Pepper-Carrot Sauce (gluten free, egg free, dairy free, vegan/vegetarian option)

The other day I wanted something resembling stuffed manicotti, but without the pasta, tomatoes, and cheese. Funny, right? Don't scoff at how weird that might seem. I didn't want the manicotti, I wanted the idea of manicotti - something stuffed, covered in sauce, and baked. Do I like manicotti? That's complicated. I love how it tastes and looks and smells, but I hate how it makes me feel. So in all, I can't really say I like manicotti, I just like the idea of manicotti. Good in theory, bad in practice. I'm guessing many of you know exactly what I mean! Sometimes you just miss the idea of a food or a dish, but not really the food itself.

I've been on a collard kick lately, and decided a stuffed collard roll baked in some sort of sauce would totally fit the bill.  I got home from work and looked in my fridge and pantry. I saw a can of salmon, and that sounded like a good filling for my collard leaves. In the fridge, I found some leftover cooked carrots and celery I salvaged from a chicken stock-making project, an open jar of roasted red peppers, and a kohlrabi. That seemed like enough. So, I set to work.

This was a fun exercise in spontaneous measuring and mixing, my favorite way to cook. In no time, I had made my salmon stuffing and prepared my sauce, and it was time to fill those happy little collards up. So, I stuffed 'em, rolled 'em, covered 'em with sauce, sprinkled 'em with onions, and put 'em in the oven to bake. The result? Total success! And they looked beautiful. The bright green collards were striking against the vibrant, rust colored sauce; my spontaneous creation of humble leftovers and canned fish looked downright fancy. And it smelled really delicious and tasted even better.  Vegetarian and vegan friends, I think you could easily substitute tempeh or baked tofu (or some imitation-meat product) for the salmon in this recipe, and turn out something just as wonderful.  

I only made two rolls, but I doubled the recipe below to make four. One roll is surprisingly filling, and could easily serve as an entree item if served with a salad, cooked vegetables, cooked grains, soup, or something else.  These rolls would be delicious served with a side of garlicky, risotto-style rice. I hear that short grain brown rice, if cooked with extra water/stock (3:1) for a little longer than usual makes a pretty good cheat for arborio rice. Haven't tried it yet myself, but let me know if you do!  

Salmon Stuffed Baked Collard Rolls with Red Pepper-Carrot Sauce

yield: 4 rolls
  • 2 5-6 oz cans salmon OR 8-12 oz tempeh, baked tofu, or other meat substitute
  • 6 large collard leaves
  • 2 small or 1 large kohlrabi
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 celery branch
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 c roasted red pepper halves/strips (about 1 whole pepper if home roasting)
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Drain salmon and put in bowl. If using tempeh, tofu, or an imitation meat product, decide if you want to have it in strips, cubed, finely chopped/crumbled, or whatever. Prepare it however you'd like, and place in a bowl.
  2. Peel onion, cut in quarters. Finely mince one quarter of the onion, and add to salmon/meat substitute. Finely slice remaining onion and set aside.
  3. Next, steam your veggies in batches:
  4. WAsh collards, and cut out tough portion of stem. Part of your leaf may be 'forked' at the end after cutting out the stalk - that's okay! Steam collard leaves for 2-3 minutes, or until softened and bright green. Remove, let cool, and pat dry. Reserve 4 of the largest leaves. Cut the other two in half lengthwise, layer, and roll lengthwise to make a cigar-sized roll. Then, finely slice through the roll, working your way from one end to the other - this technique is called a chiffonade. Add sliced collards to bowl with salmon and onions.
  5. Cut kohlrabi into chunks and steam until just tender. Finely dice about one half of the steamed kohlrabi, and add to salmon and collards. Place the remaning kohlrabi chunks in a blender, or if using an immersion blender, a large bowl.
  6. Add 1/2 c minced celery to salmon/vegetarian option, and steam the remaining celery and carrots until tender. Place steamed carrots and celery in blender with kohlrabi, and add roasted red peppers, stock, olive oil, and blend until smooth. Add salt, pepper, basil, and tarragon to taste, and blend again until well mixed. Set aside.
  7. Mix salmon/vegetarian option, collards, kohlrabi, celery, and onion, and add basil, salt, and pepper; stir until well mixed.
  8. Place one quarter of salmon/veggie mixture at top of collard leaf, fold in left and right sides, and roll up lengthwise, like a burrito. If leaf is forked at the bottom from removing the stalk, just try to pull the pieces together, layering slightly, and wrap around roll. Perfect! Repeat rolling process with remaining salmon/veggie mixture and remaining collard leaves.
  9. Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of an 11x7 inch glass baking dish. Place collard rolls in pan, and pour sauce over rolls. Toss remaining sliced onions in a little olive oil, and if desired, a mix of your favorite gluten free flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dry basil. Sprinkle coated onions over sauce and rolls, and place dish in the oven.
  10. Bake at 350 until warmed through and onions are golden, about 35-45 minutes.



Dining al Desko #2: Turkey and Sprout Nori Wrap with Tarragon Mustard Sauce


 I wrap everything in nori.  Nori is so remarkably versatile! Sure, it can be used for futomaki-style rolls, but is also traditionally used for onigiri, temaki, or for crumbling as a condiment.  Onigiri are fun to make, super transportable, and very tasty, try it out sometime.


I think nori is the ultimate convenience food. And most of the time, I don't do anything even close to traditional with it - I just use it like a wrap, in place of those devilishly pasty flour tortillas that always made me feel sick. Meat, vegetables, beans, grains, whatever - roll it in nori, and you have a meal! One of my favorite on-the-fly fillings is leftover spaghetti squash and a tin olive oil-packed sardines with a sprinkle of azuki tamari and black pepper.  Have some leftover squash or mashed sweet potato, some greens, and some beans?  Spread it in a sheet or two of nori, and you are good to go.  Want a mexican style burrito, don't want to deal with making your own gluten-free tortillas,and don't want to pay $6 for a package of them at the co-op? Wrap it in nori, baby. Have some cooked up rice or quinoa, some leftover fish, and some old green onion and cucumber sitting in the fridge? Wrap it in nori, and you suddenly have a half-assed version of sushi.  It becomes even MORE like sushi if you have some good-quality wasabi powder stashed in your spice pantry to whip up for such an occasion.  Seriously, I think nori is like god's gift to food.  I keep a package of it at work just in case I have something to wrap up.  And I like to travel with it too - you never know when that can of tuna in your purse might need something to get stuffed into for an emergency meal on-the-go.   

Plus, nori is so fantastically good for you.  Like all sea vegetables, nori is high in iron, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, healthy sodium, and hard-to-find iodine, an important mineral that helps to regulate healthy thyroid function. Sea vegetables can help remove heavy metals from the body, and the unique concentration of fiber can help to remove toxins from the intestinal tract. Plus, seaweeds have naturally antimicrobial properties, and help to regulate healthy bacteria levels in the gut. In Chinese dietary therapy, seaweeds are considered a yin food, and can help tonify the kidneys, especially important during times of stress, detoxification, or poor adrenal function. Seaweeds benefit everyone's diet, so try them out! Toasted sheets of nori is a good way to start adding sea vegetables to your diet - it has a mild flavor, requires no additional preparation, and is easy and versatile. Plus it is inexpensive - shop at Asian markets to find the best deals!!!

Today I made a turkey sprout wrap using a sheet of nori at my desk at work, and it was fast and super tasty.  And here's another dining al desko trick: I didn't have a bamboo mat to roll it up with, so I used a piece of office paper, and it worked just fine.


1 sheet nori
2-3 slices organic turkey sandwich meat or 2-3 oz pulled turkey
handful sunflower sprouts (or other sprouts)
some pieces of lettuce or other greens
any of your other favorite sandwich fixings (cucumber, grated carrot or beet, avocado, bell pepper, tomato, sauerkraut, etc)
drizzle of favorite dip, dressing, spread, or sauce - like the tasty Tarragon Mustard sauce below
  1. Lay out nori on bamboo roller or on a piece of paper, or if you're lucky and not at work, a bamboo mat
  2. Layer ingredients on nori, starting with sliced turkey and the flatest ingredients, ending with the fluffiest, hardest to control, or moistest (like sprouts or avocado slices, for example).  
  3. Roll up the nori, dabbing the surface a few times with a bit of water to make the seaweed stick together.  Finish rolling, and squeeze together a few times to make it all stay sealed.  Slice in half, in smaller rounds, or eat as is like a big burrito!  If for some reason your nori is gets too soggy and starts to tear, just roll another sheet of nori around it.  
TARRAGON MUSTARD SAUCE (gluten free, vegan)
1 tsp mustard (only if made with apple cider vinegar)
1/4 olive oil
1 T azuki tamari, ume vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice
1 tsp crushed dry tarragon
1 tsp dry mustard powder
Put all ingredients together and whisk.  Store in a jar in the fridge.  Drizzle on salads, vegetables (really good on beets), wraps, or sandwiches.