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. 

Entries in Recipe Roundups (12)


Allergy-Friendly, Gluten-free Thanksgiving Recipes

Here in the United States, Thanksgiving is fast approaching.  On Thursday the nation will gorge themselves on turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, those pasty dinner rolls and pie. Lots and lots of pie.  For those of us with allergies, such holiday meals can be like obstacle courses. The traditional Thanksgiving fare leaves those of us with multiple dietary restrictions feeling left out at the family table.  

Fear not! Thankfully, there are many delicious ways to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving without sacrificing your diet.   Here are some of my favorite recipes that are perfect for holiday get-togethers and good enough for your very traditional grandma and your picky uncle to enjoy. 

Cashew-Pumpkin Seed Cheese with Apple-Cranberry Sauce



Cabbage-Apple Slaw 



 Pumpkin Coconut Soup



Slow-cooked Pork Shoulder with Sauerkraut, Sweet Potato, and Apple

Main Course 

Who says you need to cook a whole turkey? Try one of these other protein packed options instead.


Paprika Rice

Stuffing Substitutes



 Quick Roasted Kabocha Squash



socca with rosemary and cumin

Breads & Muffins


Sweet Potato Crumble Bars

Pies & Bars


Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Other Sweet Treats


Rainbow Curry Chicken Stew

Yummy leftover turkey ideas


November SOS Kitchen Challenge Reveal

Happy November!  It's the beginning of the month, which means it's also time for a new SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient reveal!

Your posts last month all made such great use of cranberries.  Here are a few highlights that Ricki and I particularly enjoyed:

This month's featured ingredient is one that Kim and I both adore.  Although they're a bit of a paleface compared to many other antioxidant-rich vegetables, they offer lots of great nutritional value as well as deep, succulent flavor. They may at first appear like off-white carrots, but this month's veggie offers its own unique, healthy and delicious properties.  We're talking about--


[image source]

What Are Parsnips?

They may look like albino carrots, but the gnarly parsnip, native to Asia and Europe, provides many health benefits.  One of the less-lauded root veggies, parsnips appear to be paler carrots with somewhat bumpy exteriors and a light yellow or off-white flesh inside.  Their flavor has been described as alternately nutty, sweet, or peppery; I also find them somewhat earthy.  Because of their high starch content, they brown and caramelize well when roasted, releasing natural sugars for a mild, sweet flavor.

Known as a biannual plant, the flowers blossom from June until August, though only the roots are consumed (unlike carrots, the tops of which can be eaten). [source] Interestingly, parsnips aren't grown in warmer climates because they require frost to develop their flavor (one reason they're so abundant where Kim and I live, I guess!) ;) [source]

Health Benefits of Parsnips

While parsnips are a white root vegetable like potatoes, there are some significant differences between the two.  Parsnips contain lower levels of protein and vitamin C than spuds, but they do provide more fiber. And parsnips contain a host of nutrients, offering an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, pantothenic acid, copper, and manganese. They also contain good amounts of niacin, thiamine, magnesium, and potassium. [source]

In fact, some sources suggest that parsnips can be used to help regulate bowel movements and to keep the liver healthy. [source]


[image source]


Choosing and Cooking Parsnips

When choosing your parsnip, look for cream or lightly tan exteriors, with a skin as smooth as possible.  The smaller roots are the more tender ones; the larger roots tend to become woody.

Parsnips should be peeled unless they’re organic (in which case, wash well and scrub away any visible dirt before cutting and cooking).  Some sources suggest that parsnips should never be eaten raw, but this is a fallacy; it's just fine to eat them that way! Use them to replace some or all of your potatoes in a mash; chop or grate and include in soups, stews or pasta sauces; roast on their own or in root vegetable fries; or mix up with your favorite carrot cake recipe, substituting parsnips for some or all of the carrot. The possibilites are endless!

Now, it's time for you to show us what YOU can do with parsnips!  You have until the end of the month to link up your favorite parsnip-based recipes.



How to Participate in the SOS Kitchen Challenge

To participate, please adhere to the following guidelines. We hate to remove entries, so PLEASE READ THE GUIDELINES CAREFULLY BEFORE LINKING UP!

  • Cook up a recipe--whether yours or someone else's with credit to them--using cranberries (for our purposes, you can use whole berries, fresh or frozen; dried cranberries; or cranberry juice).
  • Your recipe must be made for this eventwithin the month of the challenge--sorry, no old posts are accepted.  Then, post the recipe to your blog (if you don’t have a blog, see instructions below).
  • Be sure to mention the event on your post and link to the current SOS page so that everyone can find the collection of recipes. Then, link up the recipe using the linky tool below.
  • As a general rule, please use mostly whole foods ingredients (minimally processed with no artificial flavors, colors, prepackaged sauces, etc.).  For example, whole grains and whole grain flours; no refined white flours or sugar (but either glutenous OR gluten-free flours are fine).
  • Please ensure that recipes are vegan or include a vegan alternative (no animal products such as meat, fish, chicken, milk, yogurt, eggs, honey).
  • Please use natural sweeteners (no white sugar, nothing that requires a laboratory to create--such as splenda, aspartame, xylitol, etc.). Instead, try maple syrup, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, dates, yacon syrup, Sucanat, stevia, etc.
  • Feel free to use the event logo on your blog to help promote the event
  • Have fun and let your creativity shine!

You may enter as many times as you like, but please submit a separate entry for each recipe, and submit only one entry per blog post.

If you don’t have a blog, you can still participate!  Simply email your recipe, or recipe and a photo, to soskitchenchallenge@gmail.com. We’ll post it for you.

For all the details (and to view past challenges), check out the SOS Kitchen Challenge pageDeadline for submission is Wednesday, November 30, 2011.Kim and I look forward to seeing all your culinary creations using parsnips! :D

November 2011 SOS Kitchen Challenge: Parsnips


We're back....it's the October SOS Kitchen Challenge Reveal!

Sweet or Savory Kitchen CHallenge

Darling readers, it's been a long time since you've seen this logo, huh? The last time that my friend Ricki and I hosted a Sweet or Savory Kitchen Challenge was back in June. Remember? It was early summer and we paid honor to the noble blueberry. You created wonderful sweet and savory recipes featuring the blueberry and shared them for all to see. We were so pleased with the turn out!

And yet, despite our love for all your inspiring entries, Ricki and I decided to take a break through the summer to focus on our friends, our families, and our selves. In my case, this holiday from the blog turned out to be a significant blessing! With limited internet access, multiple housing changes, a broken laptop, and a very busy schedule of cooking demos and travel and food swaps, I've hardly been online all summer.

With the coming of Fall, I am happy to say things seem to be finding a place of balance. And thus, Ricki and I are excited to bring the SOS back to life! So, without further adieu...

Our featured ingredient this month has a humble history, but has recently joined the ranks of “super foods” like blueberries, spinach, and pumpkins. Their ravishing red color is  unmistakable and their sweet-tart flavor is unique and versatile. 

Any guesses yet? Okay, okay, we’ll tell you. Our featured ingredient this month is...

image from http://glyndk.blogspot.com/2009/09/land-of-cranberries.html


Basic Cranberry Information

Cranberries are related to blueberries, and grow in sandy bogs in cool climates of the Northern hemisphere. The short shrubby plants have long trailing vines, featuring evergreen leaves, distinctive pink flowers, and shiny plump berries. Unripe cranberry fruits are white and the fruits deepen to the characteristic red color as they ripen.

Native Americans used cranberries as food, medicine, and dye. Soon after they arrived, the European settlers  caught on to the versatility of cranberries and incorporated them in their meals. In fact, the early colonialists are responsible for the name cranberry, which derives from “crane berry” - the distinctive shape of the wiry stem and flower petals and stamen reminded them of the neck, head, and beak of a crane. American colonialists shipped plants to Europe in the early 1800s, where the cranberry quickly gained popularity throughout Great Britain and Scandinavia. 

Ricki and I are lucky, as we both live in cranberry country - cranberries are grown throughout southern Canada and in northern portions of the United States. In fact, my home state of Wisconsin leads the way in U.S. production, pushing out more than 50% of the crop!  As a native Wisconsinite, I take cranberry bogs for granted, as a drive through the countryside always revealed low-lying bogs dotted with shining red berries. I grew up eating fresh cranberries prepared a variety of ways in the fall, and my family often had bags of fresh cranberries in the freezer. But it doesn't stop there. My grandparents took my brother and I on a tour of the Ocean Spray cranberry plant in Tomah, Wisconsin, and I’ve visited the Cranberry Festival in Eagle River, Wisconsin more than once. What can I say, I’m a cranberry lover from the get-go!

image from http://www.thecamreport.com/images//CranberryHoW.jpg

How to Select and Store

Cranberries are in season from October through December, and can be found fresh at grocery stores and green markets. Frozen berries can be found all year round. Almost 95% of the cranberry crop is processed into juice, dried cranberries, and sauces, while the other 5% is sold raw. When selecting fresh, raw cranberries, look for firm fruits that are deep red and free of blemishes. Firmness is a key indicator, and ripe cranberries will actually bounce when you drop them. This has earned them the nickname “bounceberries”. 

Fresh cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, or can be frozen for several years. If freezing them, rinse the berries then lay on a flat baking sheet or pan, and freeze. Then place in a freezer bag and seal tightly. Frozen cranberries can be used as-is in recipes; there is no need to thaw. Cranberry juice should be stored in the refrigerator or frozen for later use. Dried cranberries will keep for 6-12 months if well-sealed.

Culinary and Nutrition Benefits

The fruits are incredibly versatile; thanks to their sweet-tart flavor they can be used for a variety of sweet or savory applications. They can be used for sauces, chutneys, relishes, smoothies, and in baked goods and other desserts. Dried cranberries are an excellent addition to breads and muffins, granola or meusli, or as a snack on their own. For a savory option, try adding to stuffings, salsas, salad dressings, salads, or for adding a tart flavor element to soups or stews. Cranberry juice can be used to make everything from agar agar molds to punches to flavorful apple cider blends. Ricki and I have both enjoyed using cranberries on our blog. Check out Ricki’s Stevia-Sweetened Dried Cranberries or my Stevia-Sweetened Apple-Cranberry Sauce

In addition to amazing culinary variety, cranberries pack a lot of nutrition in a small package. They are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and dietary fiber. Additionally, they contain powerful phytonutrients that may help support the cardiovascular system, immune system, and may even reduce the risk of cancer. Cranberries also contain compounds that may help prevent and eliminate bacterial infections of the urinary system, particularly in cases of urinary tract infections. Cranberry pills or unsweetened cranberry juice are often suggested to people and animals struggling with UTIs!

What an amazing fruit, huh? Ricki and I think these little red berries pack an admirably powerful punch. 

image from http://www.plantcare.com/oldSite/httpdocs/images/namedImages/Cranberry.jpg

How to Participate in the SOS

To participate, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Cook up a sweet or savory recipe--whether yours or someone else's with credit to them--using cranberries. Your recipe must be made for this event, within the month of the challenge--sorry, no old posts are accepted.  Then, post the recipe to your blog (if you don’t have a blog, see instructions below).
  • Be sure to mention the event on your post and link to the current SOS page so that everyone can find the collection of recipes. Then, link up the recipe using the Linky tool below.
  • As a general rule, please use mostly whole foods ingredients (minimally processed with no artificial flavors, colors, prepackaged sauces, etc.).  For example, whole grains and whole grain flours; no refined white flours or sugar (but either glutenous OR gluten-free flours are fine).
  • Please ensure that recipes are vegan or include a vegan alternative (no animal products such as meat, fish, chicken, milk, yogurt, eggs, honey).
  • Please use natural sweeteners (no white sugar, nothing that requires a laboratory to create--such as splenda, aspartame, xylitol, etc.). Instead, try maple syrup, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, dates, yacon syrup, Sucanat, stevia, etc.
  • Feel free to use the event logo on your blog to help promote the event
  • Have fun and let your creativity shine!
  • You may enter as many times as you like, but please submit a separate entry for each recipe.

For all the details (and to view past challenges), check out the SOS Kitchen Challenge page.

If you don’t have a blog, you can still participate!  Simply email your recipe, or recipe and a photo, to soskitchenchallenge@gmail.com. We’ll post it for you. 

Deadline for submission is Monday, October 31, 2011.


Ricki and I look forward to seeing what you do with cranberries this month. It’s good to be back!

October 2011 SOS Kitchen Challenge: Cranberries


May SOS Kitchen Challenge Reveal, and a First Anniversary Giveaway!

Welcome to another month and another round of the SOS Kitchen Challenge! Ricki and I realized that the SOS Kitchen Challenge is now a year old. Our first challenge in April 2010 featured the noble beet, and we've been on a roll ever since thanks to your culinary creativity. Ricki and I look forward to seeing your awesome recipes and are inspired every time! Thanks for all your contributions over the past year, and we look forward to your participation in many SOS Kitchen Challenges to come!

To celebrate our 1 year anniversary, we're featuring one of our favorite ingredients and offering giveaways to two lucky readers.  This month we are featuring...


recently harvested mature carob pods [source]

An Abridged History of Carob

Carob, also known as St. John's Bread, has been used for over 5000 years. The word "carob" is derived from the Arabic Kharrub or Kharoub, which means pod or bean pod. This ancient food has a long and interesting history, feeding Mohammed's armies and (according to the Bible) sustaining St. John the Baptist in the wilderness (Mark 1:16). Carob was referred to as the "Egyption fig" or "Egyption date" by the Romans, who at the unripened pods as a sweet treat. The ancient Egyptians used carob to make the adhesive used in mummification, and carob has been found in Egyptian tombs.  And more recently, thousands of Spaniards relied on the nutrition from the carob pod during the Spanish Civiil War and World Wars I and II. Fascinating!

Carob is harvested from the carob bean tree. Depending on the age of the tree, carob bean trees yield between 100 and 250 pounds of beans per year. Over the course of the growing season, glossy flat green bean pods develop. As they mature, the pods turn dark brown and become very firm. Each pod grows up to 12 inches in length and can contain as many as 15 carob seeds. Seeds are harvested and used for human consumption while the pods are often used as animal feed.  

carob powder [source]


How to Use Carob

As a food, carob is remarkably versatile. Carob powder, available both raw and toasted, is a wonderful 1:1 substitute for cocoa powder in any recipe. Carob is also used to make carob chips, which can be substituted for chocolate chips. The rich brown color is equal to cocoa powder, and naturally sweet flavor reduces the need for other sweeteners in recipes, making it great for low-sugar or sugar-free diets. But unlike cocoa, carob is free of caffeine, theobromine, and oxalic acid, so it a great choice for individuals who are sensitive to or wish to avoid those things. 

Roasted seeds have a rich flavor, and can be used as a substitute for coffee or black tea. Whole pods are eaten in Egypt as a snack and crushed pods are used to make a refreshing drink. In addition to use the pod whole or ground, it can be used for a variety of other purposes. Throughout the Mediterranean, carob is used to make liqueurs and syrups for both culinary and medicinal purposes (carob syrup can be found at Mediterranean, MIddle Eastern, or speciality markets). The commonly-used thickener locust bean gum - often found in many processed foods - is derived from carob.  

In addition to being delicious, carob is actually quite health promoting. As mentioned earlier, it is free of caffeine, theobromine, and oxalic acid, perfect for anyone intolerant to caffeine or on a low oxalic diet. It is high in fiber and contains a respectable amount of calcium, potassium, riboflavin, copper, potassium, and omega-6 fatty acids. It can be used as a treatment for diarrhea, and is particularly effective in infants and children. 

How to Participate (and Enter to Win!)

Ricki and I are offering great prizes to two lucky readers to celebrate our one year anniversary.  By submitting a recipe to this month’s Challenge, you will become eligible to win one of our two great prizes.

Remember that recipes must be vegan or provide reliable vegan substitutes, cannot use refined sugars, and must utilize whole foods ingredients (no heavily processed foods or box mixes). For full Challenge guidelines, please see this post.  If your entry does not comply with our rules, we will remove it - so please read the rules!

Entries must be recieved by 11:59 pm CST on May 31, 2011.

Our prizes this month:

  • A 1-pint jar of Harrison's Sugar Bush Maple Syrup, harvested by my family in Fence, Wisconsin. This syrup is made in small batches and is only available for purchase through my family. It is truly an artisan, regional product! (I'm currently out of syrup and don't have a jar to photograph - I"ll add a photo this weekend when I get more syrup for me and you!)
  • A pdf copy of Good Morning! Breakfasts without Gluten, Sugar, Eggs, or Dairy by Ricki Heller. Ricki's latest e-book features easy allergy-friendly breakfast ideas perfect for everyone in your family. It's inspiring, and I'm looking forward to cooking my way through every recipe I can.

At the end of the month, Ricki and I will choose the two winners at random from the entries, and will announce the winners on our blogs Wednesday June 1, 2011. Be sure to come back here and check if you won at the beginning of next month! 

We’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm and incredible creativity you’ve all shown over the past Challenges.  So put those carob-filled thinking caps on, and start cooking!   

May SOS Kitchen Challenge: Carob




  • Wikipedia. "Ceratonia siliqua" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratonia_siliqua
  • Eden Organic. "Carob Notes." http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=111
  • DigHerbs. "Carob - (Ceratonia siliqua)." http://www.digherbs.com/carob.html
  • Nutrition Data. "Carob flour." http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4324/2



April SOS Kitchen Challenge Asparagus Recipe Round-Up

This past month, Ricki and I chose Asparagus as our SOS Kitchen Challenge key ingredient, and set out a true "kitchen challenge": could anyone actually come up with a (tasty) sweet asparagus-based recipe? Well, I'm thrilled to report that several of you rose to the challenge quite admirably!

The asparagus recipes flowed in all month, with many arriving down to the wire.  Here are some of the highlights (you can find links to all these recipes and more in the linky list below):

The Savory: 

Asparagus-Herb Muffins from A Dash of Compassion
Creamy Asparagus Pasta from Vegan Awakening
Spring Salad with Asparagus and Fresh Corn from The Allergic Kid
Simple Chilled Asparagus Salad from The Gluten-Free Edge
Brown Rice Risotto with Asparagus from City/Life/Eats

. . .and The Sweet! (kudos to all of you for these incredibly creative dishes):

Tropical Purple Smoothie from Glow
Asparagus Muffins with Cashew Cream Frosting from Cara's Cravings
Asparagus-Orange Quick Bread from B & The Boy

All of your recipes look sensational!

Thanks to everyone who participated this past month.  We were thrilled with every one of your 22 entries. 

Ricki and I are currently putting the finishing touches on the kickoff post for May. . . a favorite ingredient that is used frequently on both our blogs.  And we're certain that everyone, wherever you're located, can participate equally this month. Stayed tuned for the annoucement in a day or two.  

April SOS Kitchen Challenge Submissions: Asparagus