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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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

Recent Posts

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner

Site Search

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: Salads (30)


French Tuna Macaroni Salad with Anchovy Mustard Dressing (gluten free)

My week of housesitting is over, and yesterday I returned home to my humble apartment. It felt good to be back in my own space, and I enjoyed unpacking, making lunch in my own kitchen, and watching a documentary in my own living room. I returned home from this housesitting experience with a TON of great culinary inspiration - they have a large collection of cookbooks, which are now prominently displayed, unlike before. Not surprisingly, I delved in, looking at all sorts of cookbooks. I was especially charmed by the array of Indian and French cookbooks, as well as The River Cafe cookbooks (AWESOME). While most of the recipes in all the cookbooks I looked at required modification, or were completely off limits to me, that didn't stop me from relishing in the beautiful ingredients, the amazing colors, and inspiring techniques. After reading The French Kitchen and the River Cafe Cookbook Green, I was left dreaming of French and Italian cuisine. Anchovies, capers, and oil cured olives, tarragon and fresh parsley, fresh seafood and roasted chicken, and an abundance of fresh market vegetables danced through my thoughts.

The French and Italians seriously know what's up.
So, drawing on that inspiration, I decided to put a spin on the classic tuna macaroni salad that I am made for a friend's birthday BBQ last night. Tuna macaroni salad is a Midwestern standby at every potluck, church dinner, or BBQ. As a child, I did not like that salad at all, and was so happy to have a good reason NOT to eat it when I was vegetarian. Once I started eating meat again, I still wouldn't touch this salad. What is it? The basic framework is tuna, macaroni, and bunch of mayonnaise. The rest of the ingredients vary, depending on the cook, but it has been known to contain everything from peas, celery, and chunks of cheese (usually Velveeta) to green pepper or pickles. As for the seasonings, it is usually limited to salt and pepper. In my experience, every version of this salad I'd ever had included WAY to much mayonnaise, not enough seasonings, and far too few vegetables, and was simply heavy, creamy yuckiness. Blech.

I went for the opposite. My version is inspired by the flavors of French cooking, and is bright and sunny and light. Like its classic cousin, macaroni elbows (gluten free!) and canned tuna provide a base. But I embellished with crunchy slices of celery hearts, sweet pops of peas, and salty twangs of oil cured black olives and capers. Fresh parsley, tarragon, and dill from my garden add a fresh, green flavor, and I finished it off with a wickedly good anchovy and mustard dressing. The best part? The macaroni is totally outnumbered by the tuna and the green, green, green of veggies and herbs, and it doesn't leave you feeling heavy at all.
Seriously, canned tuna and elbow macaroni never had it so good. The salad was a hit at the party, and I took home *zero* leftovers. Nobody missed the mayonnaise or the gluten - I love feeding delicious, whole foods, gluten free things to unsuspecting people! Thankfully, I saved a little here at home for myself before taking it to the party - it will make for a great lunch next week.

Two things:
This recipe makes a large amount, about 3 quarts. So unless you are feeding a crowd , taking it to a potluck, or want some serious leftovers, I recommend halving the recipe. But then again, maybe not - it is really good, and you might just want to eat the whole batch!

This is not low sodium by any means - the anchovies, capers, olives, and fish sauce all have a significant amount of sodium. To reduce the amount of sodium, you can also use water or vinegar packed capers instead of salt packed; the flavor will be slightly different, but it will reduce the sodium. You can also omit the fish sauce if desired. Look for unsalted tuna, and rinse off the anchovies before using them in the dressing. I like going to Trader Joe's for both tuna and anchovies - their tuna is packed in just water or olive oil (no soy-based vegetable broth or other additives!), and their olive oil packed anchovies are really great too. And because it is Trader Joe's, you can get them for a great price! I used water packed tuna in this recipe, but olive oil packed would also be delicious. Oil packed tuna is richer and heavier, while water packed tuna is flakier and light - follow your personal preference.

yield: about 3 quarts

1 1/2 c dry (about 3 c cooked) brown rice elbow macaroni (or other tolerated pasta)
3 6-oz. cans water or olive oil packed tuna, drained
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
stalks from 1 celery heart, thinly sliced at diagonal (use 6-8 of the the inner tender stalks from a bunch of celery)
1 16 oz bag frozen peas, thawed
1/2 c oil-cured black olives, pitted
1/4 cup salt-packed capers
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
2-4 T fresh dill, minced
2 T fresh tarragon leaves, minced, or 2 tsp dry tarragon

Anchovy Mustard Dressing
1 tin olive oil-packed anchovies, rinsed
2 T prepared mustard
2 T raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg's or Eden Organics)
1/4 t vitamin C crystals dissolved in 2-4 T water OR juice from 1/2-1 lemon
1-2 T fresh dill weed
1/2-1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
1 clove garlic (optional)
2-4 T olive oil

Prepare dressing: rinse the anchovies, then put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender, and blend until totally liquified. Gradually add the oil, and blend until emulsified and well combined; adjust seasonings to taste as desired. It should fairly thick, but still pourable; only add more oil or water as needed. Put in a small jar in the fridge until ready to use.

Prepare pasta: Next, prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the packaging. Cook only until just al dente, then strain and rinse well under cool water. DO NOT OVER COOK! After rinsing, put in a large bowl to cool, drizzle with just a little olive oil, and stir around to coat. Your pasta won't stick together as it cools this way!

Prepare the rest of the ingredients: Thinly slice shallots. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a small pan, and saute over medium heat until caramelly and brown. Add to bowl with pasta. Wash and thinly slice celery on a diagonal, pit and coarsely chop the olives, drain and break up tuna into small pieces, and measure peas and capers. Add everything to the bowl with pasta and shallots. Mince tarragon and dill, and also add to bowl. Toss ingredients gently a few times to mix, then pour on dressing and gently stir ingredients together until evenly moistened and mixed.
Transfer to serving bowl, cover, and chill for 1-2 hours to let flavors meld.
Serve and enjoy!


Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Chard Salad (gluten free, vegan)



My summer has been hectic.  I am working full-time, as usual, but have added an accelerated online summer chemistry and biology classes to my life.  I need these courses to fulfill prerequisite requirements for the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, where I plan to apply for the 2010 school year.  I didn't take bio or chem in undergrad - I took anatomy and astronomy - so I need to do the work now.  Taking the classes online has required massive amounts of self-discipline.  The first half of summer was chemistry, which I passed with flying colors (A+!).  I am now in a biology class, which is much more intense than I imagined.  It is truly fascinating, but the workload is large, and the deadlines come far too often for my liking. 
Between work and school, I have hardly had a minute to breath.  My apartment is a disaster, my bedroom looks like a tornado went through it, and my body is achy from spending too much time sitting at a computer.   One good thing is that I've had to come up with quick ways to make nourishing and delicious meals, like this salad!  Hey, if I was able to fit in making it during this last week, I think anyone can.  Truly, I've hardly had a free moment, and I feel it. I haven't had time to go to yoga, have been staying up too late doing homework, and feel the stress in my digestive system. 
So, today I took the entire for myself, and only did what I wanted to do.  I got a haircut, gardened, went to the farmer's market, made pickles, baked some very tasty zucchini bread, went to yoga, went for a refreshing post-yoga swim at one of Minneapolis' lovely inner-city lakes, then came home and ate a simple, lovely dinner of the last leftovers of this salad.    It was even better after sitting the in fridge for a few days.  I extended the leftovers with a few additional fresh peas and baby chard I picked from my garden this morning.   I spent an hour and half in my modest plot of land, weeding and doting on my plants,  sprinkling water and blessings on the lives I'm nurturing.  That garden has provided sanity for me this summer.  I escape there between work and homework, and lose myself in the land.  

Today has been a blessing.  I'm happy to have time to write this blog, and share this recipe.  And later tonight, I will finish the jewelry project I started last night and feed my creative spirit.  After seeing the earrings I made for us bridesmaids in my friend Lauren's wedding, her mom wanted me to make her jewelry for her big wedding day outfit.  I'm combining topaz and amber colored Austrian crystals, pearls, and gold accent beads, and they will be elegant and beautiful.  
I hope you enjoy this salad, and can enjoy it in a moment of peace.
And by the way, the zucchini bread was delicious.  I want to make a couple tweaks, then I'll share.  It was moist and rich, just a little sweet, and wonderfully spiced.  Thankfully, my zucchini plant isn't slowing down anytime soon, so I'll have plenty to work with.  More to come!

serves 4

1 15-oz can cooked chickpeas
5-6 large leaves chard, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, chopped
2 handfuls pea pods or snap peas
about 1/2 c red onion, finely chopped
1 T dry cilantr0 or 1/4 c fresh, chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp tumeric
1-2 T sunflower oil or high heat oil
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp ground mustard
dash salt
1/2 T chickpea miso (or soy miso if tolerated)
1 T flax oil or olive oil
1 T apple cider vinegar
possible garnishes:
coconut chips/grated coconut
crushed cassava root chips (I love these things!!!)
  1. Wash and prepare the vegetables: Thinly slice chard, removing rib if very firm (save rib for another dish later!).  Dice onion.  Chop pea pods/snap peas - if using snap peas, feel free to shell and throw in the fresh shelled peas for fun texture!   Dice cucumber - if your cucumber is large and the skin is tough, peel and remove seeds before chopping.  If using fresh cilantro, finely chop.
  2. Drain and rinse beans and place in a large bowl.  Add vegetables and cilantro and toss to mix.
  3. In a small fry pan, heat 1-2 Tbsp sunflower or other high heat oil to the smoking point, then add cumin seeds and turmeric and stir to coat with oil.  Turn down heat to medium and heat until seeds start to pop.  Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together miso paste, olive/flax oil, apple cider vinegar, and other spices.  
  5. Pour miso mixture over salad, then pour cumin/turmeric oil over salad as well.  Stir to mix evenly and coat salad.
  6. Serve immediately, or for best flavor, let sit for an hour or two in fridge before serving.For a fun twist, garnish with coconut chips or grated coconut, more cilantro, or crushed cassava chips. Enjoy!



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)





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!



Fava Bean Zucchini Salad with Dill Garlic Scape Pesto (gluten free, vegan/vegetarian)


Every year, one of the stylists I work with and her husband throw a fabulous garden party. Their yard is beyond beautiful - large and sprawling, with lush green grass, mature trees, and well-tended flower gardens. The variety of colors and textures in their gardens is breathtaking - almost as breathtaking as the ivy covered arbor that divides the upper gardens from the lower gardens. And that is almost as breathtaking as the beautiful lakefront view from the edge of the lower garden. No matter where you look in their garden, you are met with beauty and grace of the best kind.

The guest list is large and diverse; they invite all of their friends and bunch of people from the Minneapolis commercial photo industry, of which I am a part. I look forward to the garden party each year because the people in this industry are just lovely - there is a true feeling of commaraderie among everyone, and I feel lucky to work with so many great people.


With my list of dietary restrictions, potlucks seem to more closely resemble obstacle courses than a carefree party. But despite this, I still love them dearly, and get excited every time one pops up on my social calendar. What can I say, I'm a sucker for anything with a great communal spirit.  So, I always bring something I want to eat to share with everyone, supplement with a few other goodies in my purse, and scavenge whatever else I can from the buffet line. Then, I pig out. And I love it.

My dad was in town last weekend, and we came up with a great salad to bring to the garden party on Saturday night. Layers of fresh, soft lettuce leaves topped with crispy kohlrabi matchsticks and a melange of fava beans, roasted zucchini, and carmelized onions, finished with a dose of dill and garlic scape pesto. On the side, we had small bowls of Hungarian sheep feta and crushed pistachios for optional garnishes. We gathered most of our ingredients from the farmer's market that morning and the rest from a local Middle Eastern market. Nothing makes for great food like high quality, fresh ingredients!


This salad was really fun to make. We had never used fava beans before, and that was a fun adventure. Our spontantous dill and garlic scape pesto turned out really well; I found a lovely deal on fresh garlic scapes (see photo below of a scape!) and dill at the farmers market.  I found myself sneaking spoonfuls of the pesto and spreading it over crackers and caviar for a mid-afternoon snack, yum! And we found the most amazing Hungarian sheep feta, bought in bulk at one of my fav Middle Eastern markets - this cheese is creamy, not too sharp, and unlike any feta I've ever had. In the end it looked beautiful, bright green dotted with creamy white and hints of deep purpley red.

While everyone else had plates full of the requisite coleslaw, seven-layer bars, and potato salad, I had a plate filled to the brim with this salad. I relished in the mix of textures and fresh flavors, and went back for a big second helping. It tastes like summer.  
ONE NOTE: The ingredients are simple, but honestly, this salad is a little fussy and not exactly quick to prepare.  But it is delicious, and worth the effort.



yield: enough for a potluck or a big dinner party.  In other words, A LOT.

2 lbs fava bean pods (yields about 1 c shelled, peeled beans)
6-7 small zucchinis
2 large red onions
2 medium kohlrabi
2 small heads lettuce, or 1 large (I used 1 head each red and green)

2-3 Tblsp dill-garlic scape pesto (see recipe below)
optional garnishes: 4 oz. crumbled sheep milk feta***, 1/2 c crushed pistachios
  1. Remove beans from pod.  Each pound of bean pods yields roughly 1/2 c of shelled pelled beans.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Blanch the beans for about 1 minute.  Drain, and transfer immediately to a bowl of cold water.  Let sit a few minutes to cool - this helps loosen the skin from each bean.
  3. To peel skin, pinch the skin to loosen, or use a small knife (photo at right).  Pinch the bean, and it will slip out. 
  4. Bring water to boil once again, and let shelled, peeled beans cook for about 3-4 minutes, until bright green and tender.    Drain beans.  Too cool quickly, if desired, place in a large bowl of cold water.   
  5. Set beans aside.
  1. Preheat oven to 450* F.
  2. Slice zucchini on an angle in 1/4 inch slices, and transfer to a large roasting pan or baking pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat.
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes until softened and slightly golden, stirring every 10 minutes.  
  4. Remove from oven and let cool.
  1. Half onion lengthwise.  Then slice each half crosswise in 1/2 inch slices.
  2. Coat a large saute pan with oil, and heat on low-medium.  Add onions, stir to coat, and cover.  Leave covered and let cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, and recovering.  If onions start to burn or brown to quickly, reduce heat.  
  3. Once onions are soft, transparent, and brown, turn heat up slightly, remove cover, and saute for about 5-10 minutes.  This will add a great sweet flavor.
  4. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly.
  1. See the recipe below for the pesto recipe.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together a few tablespoons of pesto with the zucchini, onions, and fava beans.  Stir gently to coat vegetables evenly.  For ultimate tastiness, let sit in fridge for at least an hour, or for as long as 1-2 days if you want to make in advance.
  1. Wash and peel kohlrabi, and slice into matchsticks. 
  2. Wash and dry lettuce leaves.  If really large, you may want to tear them slightly.  Layer leaves onto a large platter.
  3. Arrange kohlrabi matchsticks on top of lettuce leaves, leaving a border of lettuce leaves around the edge.
  4. Pour zucchini mixture over kohlrabi, leaving a border of kohlrabi around the edge.
  5. If desired, sprinkle with crumbled feta and/or crushed nuts.  Or, place cheese and nuts in charming little bowls, and serve on the side.
  6. Serve immediately, or cover with saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Enjoy!

DILL GARLIC SCAPE PESTO (gluten free, vegan)
yields about 1/2 c pesto


1/2-3/4 c c packed dill
1/4 c packed Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic scapes (or one garlic clove if you don't have scapes)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp salt
about 1/2 c olive oil

  1. Wash dill and parsley.  Remove parsley leaves and dill fronts, measure, and place in blender with other ingredients.
  2. Blend until smooth, adding more olive as necessary to reach desired consistency.  Adjust seasonings as your taste buds dictate.
  3. Use for salad, and store and leftovers in fridge for up to 5-6 days.  Freezes well in ice cube trays for longer storage!
***A note on feta: Traditionally, feta was made with sheep milk, not cow milk. Most high quality, imported fetas will still be produced this way. Domestic fetas, on the other hand, are generally made with cows milk. These are fetas used at most restaurants and found in most grocery stores.  For those of us that do not tolerate cows milk well, sheep or goat feta is a great choice.  If you want to find sheep or goat milk feta, there are a few brands that sell at higher quality grocery stores and co-ops - just check the labels and you are bound to find it! In my experience, French sheep feta is the most common and easy to locate at a regular grocer. However, a trip to a good natural foods shop, middle Eastern market, or cheese store would yield many additional varieties, all made the traditional way with sheeps milk - like Greek, Hungarian, or Bulgarian. Like all cheeses, each is unique in its flavor and texture, and stand out miles ahead of cows milk feta. You may even find the opportunity to purchase in bulk, and sample each variety!  Just make sure you ask on the source of the milk before digging in.