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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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


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.  


Jicama Collard Slaw with Creamy Sunflower Seed Dressing Recipe (vegan, gluten free)

jicama & collard slaw with creamy sunflower dressing

Tasty, crunchy, creamy, perfect for backyard barbeques. I came up with this recipe to serve as part of the Pre-Memorial Day backyard family get-together! This slaw is made of collard greens, crunchy jicama and sweet carrots, covered in a creamy, mustard-spiked sunflower seed dressing. Delicious! It went really well with mesquite-smoked grilled chicken and roasted vegetables. Quick to prepare and very tasty, this slaw packs protein and lots of great vitamins and minerals!



yield: 8 side servings

8-10 leaves collard greens
1 large carrot
1/2 large jicama

Creamy Sunflower Seed Dressing:
1/4 c + 2 T sunflower seeds, lightly toasted or raw
2 T olive oil
1/3 c water
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp dry tarragon
1 T apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar, or 1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals dissolved in 1 Tbsp water
1 T prepared spicy brown mustard (made with apple cider vinegar if possible) or 2 additional tsp ground dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

  1. In high power blender, combine toasted sunflower seeds, water, dry mustard, tarragon, apple cider vinegar, prepared mustard, and salt and pepper. Blend mixture on high until sunflower seeds until smooth.
  2. With blender on high, add oil in a steady stream and continue blending until mixture is totally smooth and oil is well incorporated. If mixture is too thick, add a little more oil or water to reach desired consistency.
  3. Wash the collard leaves, pat dry, then cut out the hard center stem. Stack leaves, and roll into a long "cigar". Thinly slice cross-wise in a chiffonade, to end up with thin, long strips of collard leaf. Place in a large bowl
  4. Peel the jicama, and cut into thin matchsticks. Add to collards.
  5. WAsh and peel the carrot. Using the vegetable peeler, create long, thin strips of carrot until all the carrot has been peeled down. Cut strips into 1"-2" pieces, and add to jicama and collards.
  6. Toss ingredients together. Right before serving, stir in creamy sunflower seed dressing, transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.



Kohlrabi Mung Bean Sprout Salad (gluten free, vegan)



I was on a mung bean kick. A steaming bowl of mung dal with a side of mung bean sprout salad?  Sounds like a dream come true.  Especially when that mung bean sprout salad includes kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi is one of my favorite members of the Brassica family.  While it resembles a root vegetable, the bulb is actually the swollen stem, from which long stems and leaves grow upward.  The most common kohlrabi is green, but there are also purple varieties; the deep purple bulb is striking against the green leaves.  Once peeled, both varieties reveal lovely white flesh.  Raw, it is crunchy and crisp; cooked, it becomes buttery and soft.   It is slightly sweet but still has that light, cabbagey flavor unique to most Brassicas.  And it is full of great nutrition - high in fiber, vitamin C and B6, potassium, magnesium, and copper.

One of my favorite uses for kohlrabi is in slaws and salads.  The flavor melds well with a variety of other ingredients, and it stays crunchy even after sitting in dressings.  Did your kohlrabi come with the greens attached?  Don't throw them away - kohlrabi greens are delicious, and super nutritious to boot. When finely sliced raw in a chiffonade, they make a great addition to slaws and salads.  They are also good blanched and sauteed with garlic, added to stir fries, or mixed in with soups.  And just like any other dark leafy green, kohlrabi greens are full of vitamins and minerals, like iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins C, K, and E. 



 Fresh mint and parsley offset the pungent quality of mustard and cumin, adding bold flavor to this light, crunchy, and refreshing salad. I really enjoyed it, I hope you do too!

serves: 2-4
1 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into matchsticks
greens of one kohlrabi, cut into fine chiffonade (could substitute collards)
2-3 handfuls fresh mung bean sprouts, rinsed and patted dry
2 scallions, finely sliced
1 handful fresh parsley, minced
1 handful fresh mint, minced
1 tsp whole brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole coriander, lightly crushed with mortar & pestle
1/2 tsp ground cumin 
1/2 tsp Herbamare or salt
1/2 T sunflower, safflower, or other high temperature oil
splash of something acidic/sour - lemon juice, ume vinegar, vitamin C crystals in water, Bragg's or tamari, apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar, etc
  1. Wash and prepare all vegetables and bean sprouts, and mix together in a large bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a fry pan until very hot, then add mustard seeds and crushed coriander.  Stir to coat, and heat until mustard seeds begin to pop.
  3. Add seeds to salad along with herbs, cumin, salt, and acidic thing, and mix to distribute evenly.
  4. Let sit for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  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!



Kale, Sunflower Sprout, and Black Olive Salad (gluten free, vegan)

This salad is quick and really tasty and uses many of my absolutely favorite ingredients.  I'll put a photo up later today.  How can you go wrong with kale as a base?  And I love using sunflower sprouts.  Although I'm quite an experienced sprouter, I've never tried sprouting sunflower seeds; instead, I buy trays of live sunflower sprouts from my local co-op.  The sprouts are long and crunchy and wonderful, and make great additions to salads and wraps.  This salad also uses black olives; my favorite ones are from France, packed in oil and salt and flavored with lots of thyme.  They are wrinkly and dark and saltly and oh-so-delicious.  If you can't have vinegar, make sure to find olives that are packed in water, salt, or oil - many black olives are usually safe, whereas kalamatas and green olives are often packed in vinegar.  Many nicer grocery stores and food co-ops have bulk olive selections or pack their own; you are likely to find something that is free of vinegar!  Choose to make the vinagrette for this salad, or just sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  

serves 2
1/2 bunch kale
1 tray sunflower sprouts
1/4 c black olives, pitted
pinch thyme
1-2 T sunflower, flax, or olive oil
1-2 tsp ume vinegar* or lemon juice
fresh cracked pepper
raw or toasted sunflower seeds
  1. Wash kale well.  Cut out the rib from each leaf, then coarsely chop leaves.  Place chopped kale in pot of boiling water, and blanch until leaves are soft and bright green.  Dump kale and water through strainer, and let kale drain completely and cool to room temperature.
  2. Cut sunflower sprouts from tray and wash.  If they are long, cut sprouts in half.
  3. If desired, slice olives.
  4. In small bowl, whisk together oil, ume vinegar/lemon juice, and thyme until well mixed.
  5. Arrange kale, sprouts, and olives in 1 large serving bowl or in 2 smaller bowls.  Drizzle dressing over salad, and sprinkle on fresh cracked pepper.  Garnish with sunflower seeds, if desired.
Enjoy!  Great served alongside a hearty bean soup or a nice piece of fresh fish.
*Ume vinegar is made from the leftover juice from the pickling process of ume plums; it is not a true vinegar, but really a brine.  It is used a lot in macrobiotic cooking and makes a great seasoning.  Because it isn't really a vinegar, and is said to have an alkalizing effect, a lot of things I've read say that it is well tolerated by people dealing with Candida or by those who have sensitivities to yeasts.  So, give it a shot!  Eden Foods makes an ume vinegar that is easy to find at natural foods stores.


Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6