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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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 Blog Events (63)


April SOS Kitchen Challenge Reveal


It's April--which means the cruelest month   love is in the air  an entire month dedicated to the celebration of my birthday  another SOS Kitchen Challenge!

This month, with so many of us thinking about spring and green shoots finally making their way toward the sky, Ricki and I have chosen an ingredient that is itself a harbinger of spring.  With its lively green hue and tender, pine cone-like tops, this veggie is often enjoyed even by those who don't otherwise consume many veggies.  Our happy ingredient this month happens to be...


When asparagus hits the grocery stores and markets around this part of the world, we know spring is just around the corner. And who doesn't love spring? 

Available in most places from April to May (though much earlier in California and much later in the midwest), asparagus is beloved by many as a special treat. Actually part of the Lily family, asparagus is available in three varieties: green (the type with which most people are familiar), white, which is grown underground to inhibit the chlorophyll and thereby prevent any color from developing; and purple, which is much smaller and more delicate than the standard type.  My personal favorite among these is white asparagus, mostly for nostalgic reasons. My first exposure to it was in high school, while on European tour with a youth symphony. My French host family served me pickled white asparagus, and I was in shock! I loved it, but our massive language barrier didn't really allow me to ask much about it. Then, I encountered it a year later, while studying in Salamanca, Spain.  My classmates and I ordered paella, complete with pasty white stalks of asparagus that looked like disembodied fingers sticking out between the rice and mussels. My classmates had no idea what the stuff was. Thankfully, my prior experience with the albino vegetable allowed me to set the record straight (nerd) and we all ate it. Shortly thereafter, I saw it in the grocery store in my hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and remember feeling very fancy that I could tell my dad all about it. 

Why I remember things like this but forget to pay bills and leave my cell phone all over the place is beyond my comprehension.

Perhaps part of asparagus' elite appeal is the fact that it is more perishable than many other vegetables; it stays fresh only a few days, and, in fact, begins to lose its antioxidant value more quickly than other veggies.  The best way to store asparagus to keep it fresh is to place the cut ends in a little bit of fresh water; I stand my bunch of asparagus upright in an empty (clean) large yogurt container or glass jar, with about an inch (2.5 cm) of water in the bottom.  I invert a plastic veggie bag (usually the one it came in) gently over the spears for storage.  It will keep a couple of days this way.

All three varieties of the vegetable contain compounds called saponins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It's also one of the few foods that contains inulin, known as a "pre-biotic" because it feeds the healthy bacteria (probiotics) in our intestines, thereby encouraging a healthy digestive tract, immune system, and regular elimination (other sources of inulin are chicory, yacon and both onions and garlic).

With its high fiber content, asparagus is a great aid to digestion.  It's also an excellent source of folic acid and Vitamin K (essential for healthy blood and bones) and is a  good source of other B-vitamins. The high amount of Vitamin A (just 6 spears provide 25% of the daily requirement) is great for healthy skin; and it's also a mild diuretic, which means it can help to reduce swelling or other conditions in which one retains water (such as PMS). Finally, it also helps to detox the body with antioxidants like glutathione (important for liver function). And let's not forget that it tastes delicious and often appeals to folks who don't otherwise enjoy their veggies!

Most of us think of asparagus as a savory ingredient, used in classic dishes like quiche or risotto, above--and of course it's delicious that way! But it's also great shredded, raw, in salads; creamed in soups; or grilled.  And if you can think of a tasty sweet use for this vegetable, you'll get an extra-special mention in this month's SOS Roundup! ;)

How to Participate:  To play along with this month's challenge,  simply cook up a new recipe–either sweet OR savory (or both)–using asparagus. 

Be sure to follow the general SOS guidelines for ingredients and submission requirements (please be sure to read the guidelines before submitting! We hate to remove links, but we will do so if they don't comply with the general guidelines).  You may submit your own recipe or one you found on a website or blog (even one of ours). Then link up your recipe via the linky tool at the bottom of this post, or any of the other SOS: Asparagus posts that I publish this month.  Be sure to also add a link to this page on your post, and if you wish, include the SOS logo. 

Your recipe will be displayed on both Ricki's and my blog via the Linky, and will be featured in a recipe roundup at the end of this month.  As always, we look forward to more of your innovative, delectable, enthusiastic entries this month!

SOS Kitchen Challenge: Asparagus



March SOS Kitchen Challenge Round-Up: Adzuki Beans

Here it is again, the start of another month. That means it is also the end of another SOS Kitchen Challenge. In March, Ricki and I featured none other than the delicious and nutritious adzuki bean. Our readers were inspired by both the sweet and savory possibilities, and delivered a multitude of delicious-looking recipes. From truffles to tarts, soup to salad, and even vegetarian "bacon", we had it all. And, oddly enough, Ricki and I were on the same wavelength and created very similar bean dips, completely separate of each other. Great minds do think alike.


Here are a few highlights from the month...



 Be sure to check out all the great recipes in the Linky below, and prepare to get your bean on.

Anxious for the next SOS Kitchen Challenge? We are too! Ricki selected a great ingredient for the April SOS Kitchen Challenge. This month's ingredient is fresh, seasonal, and perfectly suited for a wide variety of savory dishes. If you can figure out how to use it in a sweet way, you deserve a medal of honor. Any guesses? Check back soon for all the details!


Do you know that my SOS partner Ricki has completed yet another recipe e-book? Her newest recipe collection is entitled Good Morning! Breakfast without Gluten, Sugar, Eggs, or Dairy, and looks amazing. From pancakes to scrambles to breakfast bars, Ricki shares recipes perfect for anyone on an anti-Candida, low glycemic, or low sugar diet, or anyone with food allergies. I can't wait to buy my copy! And, as a bonus, she is offering it at a special price of $9.95 (regular price is $12.95) through Sunday April 3.  Click here to learn more! 

March SOS Kitchen Challenge: Adzuki Beans


Charcutepalooza: Homemade Corned Beef 

Updated on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 by Registered CommenterKim


I am a recovering vegetarian. My 10 year plant-fueled career spanned my formative cooking years. I became a whiz with all things vegetal, but was robbed of a decent knowledge base of meat preparation.  Since adding meat back to my diet about 5 years ago, I've had to learn what to do with it.  When I decided to eat meat again, I promised myself I would go all out, saving bones to make broth and not cringing at the sight of tendons and fat. But at times I'm at a total loss, and somewhat intimidated by meat.  Hand me a rutabaga, and I'm a pro. Hand me a gorgeous cut of meat, and I have to sit and think for a minute (or 10).

I've been trying branch out of my turkey burger/roasted chicken/baked salmon rut.  In the last year or so, I've had a growing fascination with charcuterie. I've wanted to learn to cure meats and make sausages and do all that stuff!  Salty, smoky, cured meat is my weakness.  I know, I know - it's high in fat, it's high in sodium, it often contains nitrates, blah blah blah. I don't care. I love it.  I splurge on really high quality cured meats and relish every bite. Everyone needs a vice. And besides, with all the dietary restrictions and lifestyle changes I've had to make the last three years, if I can eat bacon and sausage and speck and chorizo and not get a bellyache, I'm going to do it. And enjoy it shamelessly.

To support my salty meat habit, I recently got a great book: Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. This book is the ultimate guide for the home cook interested in salting, smoking, and curing their own meats. Shortly after getting the book, I saw that Mrs. Wheelbarrow  and The Yummy Mummy were hosting a year-long blog event called Charcutepalooza: A Year of Meat. Not only does that sound like fun, it also is using Charcuterie as a guide! Perfect. The challenge this month was to make something brined, and I opted for the advanced challenge of making my own corned beef. The perfect inspiration to learn, play, and indulge my meaty curiosity.  

My former vegetarian self is cowering somewhere in a corner. 


Let me tell you about my experience.  I used the recipe from Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, with a few small tweaks. I am not posting the recipe here; if you want it, I highly recommend buying a copy of the book. It is worth every penny.

My beef came from Grass Run Farm. I met the founder of Grass Run Farm a few years ago; he was giving samples of his grass-fed beef at the co-op, and I took the opportunity to chat.  We talked about our experiences at our shared alma mater Luther College, the beautiful land of the Oneota River Valley, and of course, his beef. When it came time to order my brisket for the corned beef recipe, I was excited to order from the butcher, knowing that I'd be receiving beef very likely raised by a man I've actually met who loves and respects his cattle. 


Click to read more ...


Mexican Spice Adzuki Bean Fudge (gluten-free, dairy-free, cane sugar-free, low sugar)

Mexican Spice Adzuki Bean Fudge

Ever since coming up with my recipe for Black Bean Fudge a couple years ago, various bean fudges have been my go-to quick dessert. But surprisingly, I've never posted any other bean fudge recipes to the blog! So I decided it was time. The other day I came up with this recipe, a rich adzuki bean fudge with hints of cinnamon, chili powder, and Young Living tangerine essential oil, inspired by the flavors of Mexican chocolate.  I took the fudge to a potluck at the ceramic studio where I take classes, and everyone loved it. Only a few pieces came home with me at the end of the night!

I'm including this recipe in this month's SOS Kitchen Challenge, which features the adzuki bean (a.k.a. aduki bean or azuki bean, or red bean, the list goes on). For all the details of the challenge, check out the rules HERE, then enter your recipe in the Linky.  Ricki and I look forward to seeing all the great adzuki bean recipes you make this month!

Okay, back to the recipe at hand. For a light, alluring flavor in this fudge, I included tangerine essential oil (you could also use orange). While you could use orange extract instead, I'd highly recommend getting your hands on a bottle of these essential oils if you want to make this recipe. I use tangerine essential oil from Young Living, my favorite brand of high-quality, therapeutic grade, food grade essential oils. I use their oils everyday in cooking, in the bath, in the home, and for self-massage.  The quality is beyond compare, and unlike other brands of essential oils, all of the Young Living oils can be taken internally. They are more expensive than oils you'll find at your local health foods store, but their unsurpassed purity, superior quality, and high concentration means you'll get more bang for your buck. 

Click to read more ...


Sesame Adzuki Bean Dip (gluten-free, vegan, ACD)


This dip packs a surprising amount of flavor - warm, nutty, spicy, pungent.  And it couldn't be easier to make! I am including this recipe in this month's SOS Kitchen Challenge, the monthly recipe challenge from Ricki from Diet, Dessert, and Dogs and me. This month our featured ingredient is none other than the versatile adzuki bean, one of my favorite legumes. 

I often use adzuki beans for various bean dips, often highlighting them with the flavors present in Asian cuisine. This dip is no exception, featuring toasted sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and scallions. It is rich and creamy, and is a great way to jazz up raw vegetables, crackers, or collard or brown rice tortilla wraps.  Or, if you're anything like me, you'll enjoy a scoop of it served on a plate with brown rice, sauerkraut, and sauteed greens. 

Want to participate in the adzuki bean fun this month? Simply cook up a new recipe–either sweet OR savory (or both)–using adzuki beans, following the usual SOS guidelines for ingredients and submission requirements.  Then submit it by linking up to your blog post with the linky tool, below the recipe.  Be sure to add a link to this page on your post, and if you wish, include the SOS logo. 

Your recipe will be displayed on both Ricki's and my blog in the Linky, and will be featured in a recipe roundup at the end of this month.  We look forward to more of your delicious, creative, enthusiastic entries this month!  

In the mean time, here's a few other azuki bean recipes from my blog for inspiration:


Sesame Adzuki Bean Dip

yield approx. 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 cups cooked adzuki beans
  • 2 Tbsp roasted sesame tahini
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (plus more for garnish, if desired)
  • 1 Tbsp South River Azuki Bean Miso (gluten-free and soy-free) or other tolerated miso 
  • 2 tsp umeboshi plum vinegar
  • 1 small very fresh garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 4 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (plus more for garnish, if desired - I used black sesame seeds to garnish for a pretty accent)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped (plus more for garnish, if desired)

Place beans, tahini, oil, miso, ume vinegar, garlic, ginger, and red pepper in a food processor and process until smooth. If too thick for your liking, add leftover bean cooking liquid, broth, or water until it is the desired consistency. Then add sesame seeds and scallions and process briefly to mix in. Serve! If using as a dip in a serving bowl, garnish it with sesame seeds and finely chopped scallion, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, if desired.

Refrigerate leftovers in a well-sealed container for up to 5 days.


March SOS Kitchen Challenge: Adzuki Beans