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. There's big changes coming to the site - it will soon be the home of my new health coaching practice! Stay tuned. 

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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. 

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Christmas Round-Up and Sugar Free "Cream Soda"


With the holidays and all I've taken a bit of time away from the blogging, so here's a slightly late Christmas round-up. We ate like kings and queens; I took over Christmas dinner and made a gluten free feast for my family. All Christmas afternoon I slaved away in the kitchen cooking up a delightful feast, wearing a silly garland-adorned Santa hat and my favorite vintage gingham apron.

So, what did we eat?


  • Roasted Turkey, made by my mom
  • Roasted Turkey Gravy, made by me me  
  • Roasted Squash with Parsley and Garlic, from Eating Well
  • Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Bacon, adapted from Eating Well
  • Parsnip Celeriac Mash, a recipe that will appear in my soon-to-come vegetable recipe E-book!
  • Quinoa Wild Rice Pilaf with Sultanas, adapted from my own recipe
  • Greens Salad with Homemade Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette, made by me
  • my homemade pickled beets

For dessert...

Other delicious treats we ate during the weekend...

  • Gluten-Free Rice Chex Mix with Cashews and Homemade "Rye" Crisps, made by me
  • Teff Crackers, made by me
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip with Black Olives, made by me and soon to be featured in my forthcoming vegetable recipe E-book!
  • Leftover Turkey Fennel Soup, made up by me to use up that leftover turkey
 Sure, there were things I couldn't eat at Christmas dinner - like sugar-soaked sweet pickles, cranberry-orange relish, lefse with butter and brown sugar, Grandma's amazing stuffing and pickled beets (my heart aches for both of them), and sour cream-loaded mashed potatoes.  And platter upon platter of cookies and brownies and truffles that were totally off limits to me.  But most of the stuff at the table, by design, was made by me and was totally friendly FOR me.  Rock!  Plus, it looked beautiful!  Check it.


I sat down at the table with my plate, which looked like everyone else's [normally I have some separate entrée, like many of you probably do].  I didn't feel like the girl that needed exceptions.  My family raved.  They went back for seconds.  They stuffed themselves on good food.  Being able to participate in the communal nature of Christmas dinner with my family was the best gift I could have asked for.  I live alone, and most of my food is eaten only by me, so it was such a pleasure to cook for a crowd of nine.  Hooray!  And I even got chocolatey dessert.

In fact, I ate WAY too much chocolately dessert.  And while there wasn't any cane sugar involved, there was some date paste and a little brown rice syrup and agave.  And damn, did I ever pay - all my Lyme symptoms flared up like crazy!  The pain - literally - was almost unbearable and I was so exhausted by Sunday I could hardly stand it.  Monday I woke up and could barely use my right hand. Seriously.  I have spent the last 4 days recovering, no joke.  So, again, I need to be strict with myself.  Apparently, I'm not ready for sugar, huh?

This is the perfect segue into my newest favorite treat: flavored stevia liquid. I have been investigating SweetLeaf's flavored stevia online, and have seen it at my local co-ops, but had never tried it.  SweetLeaf makes a whopping 13 different flavors: Apricot Nectar, Berry, Chocolate Raspberry, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, English Toffee, Grape, Hazelnut, Lemon Drop, Peppermint, Root Beer, Valencia Orange, and Vanilla Creme.  They are all sugar free, gluten free, vegan, and contain only a proprietary blend of stevia extract, water, and natural flavors.  Zero calories. Zero carbohydrates. Zero glycemic index. Lots of awesome.  I was very interested in the potential these flavored liquids have for ultimate yumminess in many forms, particularly beverages.  Why not mix it with mineral water and make something like soda?

So, when I was at the co-op tonight, I decided to make the $15 investment in a bottle of Vanilla Crème liquid stevia.  They say there are about 300 servings in one bottle, so I don't feel bad about the $15 price tag.  When I got home, I pulled out my trusty bottle of mineral water, poured myself a glass, and put in a few drops of the stevia liquid.  It tastes JUST LIKE VANILLA CREAM SODA!  No joke!  Okay, okay, it probably tastes NOTHING like cream soda to "normal" people who drink HFCS-laden cream soda regularly, but to me, it tastes like the real thing.  Maybe you'll like it too!


SUGAR FREE VANILLA CREAM SODA (ACD-friendly, gluten free, vegan, sugar free)
serves 1

8 oz mineral water
5-6 drops SweetLeaf Vanilla Crème Liquid Stevia

Pour mineral water into a glass, and add stevia to taste.  Stir, and enjoy!

 - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hot dang, I'm in love.  Anyway, I want to try many many many flavors of this liquid stevia.  And I'm curious to see how it works in baking.  Flavored stevia liquid is going to save me from myself and all these sugary cravings -  if I can just drink various flavors of sweetened mineral water, I think I just might survive.  And just think of all the possibilities beyond mineral water - puddings, candies, all sorts of things, made totally tasty and sugar free!  I want the peppermint and the chocolate flavors quite badly...


More to come!

Have any of you tried the flavored stevia liquid?  What do you like to do with it?

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Reader Comments (6)

That photo of you is too cute! I love all of the food photos too! Can I come to your house for dinner sometime? :) I bet your family was very appreciative of your Christmas cooking!

I love the idea of the vanilla cream soda, so easy! I'll need to try that soon!

Happy New Year! -Ali :)

December 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAli

Love the hat and apron! And your feast looks amazing--I'm so glad you could partake (but oooh, sorry to hear about the flare-up. Maybe we should both shun chocolate for a while!). I use a few flavored stevias and enjoy them immensely--must look out for some of those others.

Have a great New Year's, Kim!

December 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

Ali - Happy New Year to you too! You are absolutely welcome for dinner, next time you're in MN, you just let me know. I often think that I want to visit your house for dinner too! Perhaps when I'm out West we'll need to rendez-vous! It was fun cooking dinner at my aunt's house because they have a great big kitchen with lots of counter space and a full size stove... a real treat compared to my mini-stove and tiny counter!

Ricki - Happy New Year, thanks! The dinner invite I extended to Ali also extends to you - if you are EVER in Minnesota, you just let me know! Yes, dinner was lovely...but those desserts, yikes! Must take a break :) I can't wait to try more flavors of the stevia - can you find them in Toronto, or do you need to order them?

December 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Yes, I use SweetLeaf liquid flavored stevia, too! I like to heat up my skim milk, put the chocolate flavored stevia about 3 drops for me, and a little cinnamon--BOOM! Hot chocolate! Unheated, it tastes like chocolate milk! The English toffee flavor is good on cooking ham and cooking apple chunks with cinnamon (the English toffe smells good as it is cooking on something). I've also used the English toffee flavored stevia and cinnamon in unsweetened applesause. I've baked with their powder and Vanilla Creme flavor in lieu of not only the sugar, but also vanilla! Those chocolate chip cookies turned out well! Sometimes I like the root beer flavor in sparkling water, but I wish the flavor was stronger in water. What's great about these flavors, is that you're only limited by your imagination!

January 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteryodasmith

I love Sweet Leaf! I have been using it for years! Since my first bout with Candida :) I adore this flavor, and the "dark chocolate"... mmmm so nice... I add 2 drops to my maca with unsweetend coconut milk, and I feel like I have a real treat

January 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranika

Hi Anika! I think you just made me add the "dark chocolate" to my shopping list. I've never tried maca - I think it is the one trendy, obscure superfood I haven't yet tried :) do you have any particular brands that you enjoy?

January 12, 2010 | Registered CommenterKim
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo