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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Shake it up: Ten Ways to Embrace Change in Your Diet and a Raw Strawberry "Milk"Shake

I am excited to be part of the continuing 30 Days to a Food Revolution blogging event initiated by Diane over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang. Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution to make a difference, she asked 30 different bloggers to share ways to shift from processed foods or unhealthy foods to the foods our bodies need and love.  From April 26-June 4, her blog was filled with these amazing bloggers sharing their wisdom, and it was such a pleasure to read! Since the event was such a hit, Diane wanted to extend the event past the original 30 days and recruited more bloggers to contribute for ongoing posts.  I happily volunteered, and am so excited to be contributing to the growing real food movement. 


My tip: Embrace change and shake it up.

My recipe: Raw Strawberry "Milk"Shake


Everyday, I try to shake it up a bit.   Maybe I sit in a different bus seat.  Maybe I jazz up an old dress with a new belt.  Maybe I try out a new recipe. Sometimes it is a larger decision, like choosing to take part in a new volunteer event, starting a new writing project, or making changes to my educational or work timeline.  Anyone who knows me will tell you: I thrive on change. 

When I was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and intolerances, a Candida albicans overgrowth, and chronic Lyme Disease, I was forced to confront a lot of changes.  Not the least of these changes was reinventing my diet - I needed to eliminate gluten, sugar, yeast, and my many allergens, and make a full transition to whole foods cooking.  I knew I had two choices:  fight change and be miserable, or embrace change and discover joy in the unexpected.

In short? I could either get crabby or get creative.

Thankfully, I chose the latter, and dove headlong into my new diet plan.  I already had so many dietary restrictions to work around, the last thing I needed was to further limit myself because I was picky or ignorant of my options!  I started impulsively buying the "weird looking" vegetables I generally passed by in the grocery store. I started asking farmers at the farmers market what they like to do with stuff I didn't recognize. I bought a copy of Rebecca Wood's brilliant book The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia and read it cover-to-cover (she just published an updated version, lucky you!).  I researched ethnic cuisines and new flavor combinations. I frequented ethnic grocery storess. I tried out different gluten-free flours and whole grains. And I started reading food blogs and buying more cookbooks, constantly searching for new inspiration.  

I embraced change. I embraced newness. I threw out preconceived notions and redefined my own dietary patterns. Most importantly, the changes in my diet corresponded to changes in my health.  Symptoms that troubled me for years faded away completely, or at least became manageable rather than debilitating.  Each day I felt better was motivation to continue on my path. Whole food is powerful medicine, and it can feed the body, mind and spirit in amazing ways.

This journey, however, has not been with struggles and flops.  It is hard to go to parties and restaurants, and I've made my fair share of recipes that don't make the cut. But has anything been so horrible that I just never recovered from the trauma? No! Did anyone get hurt because of my culinary endeavors? Nope! Did I learn something every time? Absolutely!  Have I become a better cook? You bet!  Has changing my diet saved my life? YES!

I know, I know, newness and change can be scary. But let's be honest - sometimes life is scary too! Every day brings changes, and we never know what is going to happen.   Change is around every bend; get comfortable with it.  Gather your courage, walk over to that garlic scape, that rutabaga, or that fresh organic chicken liver, and pick it up with confidence.  You can change your diet and in turn, you can change your life. It starts with the moment you allow yourself to open your mind, think outside the box, and get more comfortable with uncertainty.   

Ten ways to shake it up in the kitchen and embrace change:

  1. Make one small change in your diet a week, or if you're ambitious, every 3-4 days.  Maybe it is eliminating sugar, or dairy, or gluten.  Maybe it is cutting back on processed snack foods.  Whatever it is, make it manageable - as Lauren of Celiac Teen said in her great post, focus on small, healthy changes instead of drastic decisions or quick fixes.  Before you know it, you will have given your food life a makeover!
  2. Next time you are at the grocery store or farmer's market, pick up one vegetable you don't recognize.  Put it in your cart or basket.  When you get home, look it up online and find a recipe that uses it.  Do this every time you shop.  Be brave, just do it!  
  3. Switch up your starches. Substitute rice or potatoes with whole grain quinoa, millet, buckwheat, or sorghum, or starchy vegetables like parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potato, beets, celeriac, winter squash, taro, or yucca. 
  4. Research different ethnic cuisines.  Once a week, make an authentic recipe from the cuisine of your choice.  Try Indian, Thai, Japanese, French, Ethiopian, or Cuban, or one of the other many, many ethnic cuisine options. It is like taking a vacation in your very own kitchen! I love doing this, and sometimes even find music from the culture to play while I'm cooking. It makes cooking and eating an adventure.
  5. Incorporate new foods at the breakfast table. There is such a wonderful world beyond eggs, cereal, sugary pastries, and toast! There is no rule that says you must eat that stuff for breakfast.  What about beans, sauteed or raw vegetables, or whole grains?  Or my favorite thing in the next point....
  6. Drink green smoothies! The combinations are endless, and provide so much wonderful nutrition in an instant.  You can easily shove multiple servings of fruits and vegetables into one great big smoothie - it is a great way to sneak healthy foods into your diet.
  7. Eat seasonally as much as possible.   By eating seasonal foods, change is inevitable as you take advantage of the wide variety of foods available through the year. Your body will be more in touch with the cycles of nature, and you will learn to appreciate small changes in the world around you.  Alisa from One Frugal FoodieDairy Free & Fitand Go Dairy Free wrote a great post about eating seasonal foods. 
  8. Keep a well-stocked pantry.  This will keep you from falling in to old habits of "Meatloaf Monday" (and Tuesday, and Wednesday...meatloaf lasts forever!) or making that boxed macaroni and cheese because you don't have any other ingredients in the house.  A pantry of basics will allow you to try new recipes more easily and will provide a good, solid base for experimentation of all sorts.
  9. Share with a friend! If you're nervous or hesitant about trying a new food, invite a friend to try it with you and split the cost. It becomes more affordable, and it gives you a support system while trying new things!  
  10. Rotate your foods.  If you can, don't eat the same food more than two days in a row, or only eat it every other day.  Not only is this better for your digestion and provides more thorough nutrition, it reduces the risk of allergic reactions.  It will force you to try incorporating new ingredients in your diet and make falling into the dreaded "food rut" much harder.

Jicama and strawberries make a great "milk"shake!

In the spirit of shakin' it up, I'm sharing a recipe with you today that was born of total experimentation.  Ireally wanted a shake one night, but didn't have any non-dairy milk, coconut milk, or any kind of non-dairy ice cream.  I looked through my fridge and pantry for white and creamy things, found a jicama, and decided to give it a shot. Much to my delight, it turned out great.  It is creamy and sweet, but is totally free of dairy, sugar, and grains.  It's even raw!  Ah yes, this shake has become one of my favorite nourishing treats, and I'm excited to drink it all summer long.

I hope you find courage in the kitchen and trust yourself to shake it up, starting with this tasty shake.  Let's raise a glass and have a toast to Real Food!

Inspired? Here are more allergy-friendly, whole foods strawberry recipes:

Sugar-Free Dairy-Free Raw Strawberry "Milk"Shake

Yield: about 2 cups

This raw "milk"shake is sweet, creamy, and thick, and full of awesome food energy.  It provides a balanced mix of protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates, and is a nourishing light breakfast or guilt-free treat. Feel free to elaborate on this basic idea and make it your own.  For example, my mom uses banana instead of soaked nuts, ginger tea in place of water, and omits the chia and maca entirely, and absolutely loves it. If you have it, maca powder adds a malty flavor that makes it more like a traditional strawberry malt; it also adds energy boosting nutrients vitamins, and minerals. If you don't have it, no worries, it will still be delicious!  

1 cup strawberries
1 cup peeled, chopped jicama
2 tsp chia seeds
optional: 1/2 tsp maca powder
15-20 drops liquid stevia, to taste (plain or vanilla flavor)
1/4 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring or 1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 cup raw cashews or almonds (preferably soaked 2-4 hours), or 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
1/4 cup water 
6 ice cubes 

Place all ingredients except ice cubes in a blender, and blend on high until smooth.  Let sit a couple of minutes to allow chia seeds to absorb moisture and thicken the mixture.  Then add ice cubes and blend on high until smooth.  Serve immediately.  Original recipe by Kim Christensen of Affairs of Living

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Reader Comments (11)

Wow, I'm so glad I found your blog. This is a great post with lots of wonderful suggestions and your recipe for strawberry smoothie sounds so yummy. I'd love it if you would add this post to my blog hop Two for Tuesdays! My site is www.bethstedman.com

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBethany

what a lovely post!

I was vegan (and still am) so was shocked when I discovered that I tested positive to coeliac disease (6 months ago). I went through a griefing stage, and hated it when everyone tried to be positive and not allow me to whine for a few weeks, for me it was important to get through that to become positive. Does that make sense? I think it was made worse by the fact that my health did not improve in fact it got worse for while. But i guess everyone's journey is different. I now barely think about it, except when eating out or meeting new people and hope that my blog will be useful to others.

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkristy

Thank you for a wonderful post. I have discovered many of those things since finding out just how restricted my diet had to be - being able to adapt and be creative has been key in not being crabby about it. The hardest thing for me has been to make sure I rotate my foods enough - particularly with greens. I seem to have gotten stuck into a cycle of dandelion/arugula/mixed greens/spinach/kale/collards (that's roughly the order I eat them in as well, come to think of it, since I go to the market on Sunday and stock up for the week). I only seem to like chard cooked, so I tend to focus on the greens I like to eat raw and forget about chard.

Now that is a power packed shake!

Sometimes special diets are a blessing in disguise. They do typically provide limitations in social situations, but they make up for it at home. I don't think anyone would guess that by cutting foods out of your diet you actually expand your diet options, but you do! We depend so much on certain foods that we forget how many other great foods are out there. But ... even in the name of diversity and rotation, I still have trouble giving up my daily banana :)

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlisa

So much wisdom ...my , my I am always learning and always go away from your site wiser than before my visits . It's like you must have been hanging around my Kitchen for awhile and began screaming "enough all ready" ... I seem to be so stuck in such a huge rut , you thrive on change and I admire that . I used to be that way before I became ill. Now almost everything scares me to the point that I stay on my same tracks so much life isn't much fun anymore . I am going to do my best to step out side my box and begin to try more new recpies . I loved your idea of preparing different ethnic dishes while enjoying the music that goes with the cusine ! That was a great idea . I could see myself really enjoying that and also buying unfamliar produce and looking up recipes that it is used in , truly another very exciting idea as is your new recipe for the strawberry smoothy. I can not thank you enough for all your hard work and all these exciting and healthful ideas ! You are the best . BYE :)

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Finally - healthy eating tips that are easy enough for regular, non-dietary freaks like you and me can follow! I posted this on Facebook. Thanks!

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfartygirl
where can i get the jicama.
August 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlindsay
Whole Foods, natural food stores and co-ops, Mexican food markets and other ethnic grocery stores, and well-stocked grocery stores should have jicama. The grocery stores in Minneapolis sometimes carry it in the same produce area as other Mexican specialty foods, other grocery stores carry it by root vegetables. Ask a produce person. It is brown and round, it is shown in the photo above with the strawberries. sometiems they are very big, other times they are small. good luck.
August 23, 2010 | Registered CommenterKim

This is a great site!! Thanks for so many wonderful recipe ideas.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess - The Domestic Vegan

Hey! I live in Mpls, too!

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess - The Domestic Vegan

This is SO helpful. So. Helpful. I'm trying to cut out a lot of thing for a month to see if it helps with chronic skin & digestive issues.
At first I felt overwhelmingly upset about it. I loved this view...."I could either get crabby or get creative." Hehe. Woo!

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervalerie
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