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 Recipes: Sides (35)


Who needs potatoes when you have Parsnip Apple Mash?


I haven't eaten potatoes in almost 4 years. Although I undeniably enjoy the starchy goodness of a potato and the multiplicity of ways to enjoy them, consuming them just isn't worth the allergy-induced joint swelling and digestive discomfort that inevitably results. 

Instead of mourning over the loss of potatoes, I found solace in other starchy vegetables. Sweet potatoes have always reigned supreme over any other true potato in my book, and I enjoyed a reason to romance their sweet, orange flesh. I adopted my mother's love for parsnips and beets at a young age, and explored their versatility further, quickly becoming obsessed with their different yet equally sweet flavors and hearty textures. I explored the glory of the celeriac, the gnarly vegetable that is also known as celery root, and took a liking to its unique, strong flavor. I tried every squash I could get my hands on, and prepared it almost every way I could think of. I mashed cauliflower to use as a topping for shepherd's pie, made creamy pureed soups from turnips, and made french fries out of rutabagas and carrots. 

Truly, I haven't missed potatoes a bit. 

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Paprika Rice (gluten-free, vegan, ACD)


If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring two spices with you, what would they be?

For me, this answer is simple: smoked Spanish paprika and cumin. The rich color, intense flavor, and incredible fragrance of smoked paprika makes my heart swoon, and the complex acrid flavor of cumin makes me weak in the knees. Without these two spices, my kitchen would seriously suffer. So would my taste buds!  They make everything taste good, working wonders on roasted vegetables, meats and poultry, and grain dishes. 

My most recent spiced rice dish exhibits my adoration of smoked Spanish paprika and cumin. It also displays my love for the coriander plant, combining both the dry ground seeds and the fresh leaves (a.k.a. cilantro). These herbs and spices enliven simple ingredients and create a wonderfully flavored dish that accentuates any meal. 

Spiced grain dishes like this one are a great staple for your weekly meal rotation. They are easy to prepare, affordable, nutritious, and wonderfully satisfying. If you have a rice cooker, making grain dishes is even easier, as you can simply flip the switch, walk away, and return to find perfectly cooked rice. I hardly ever cook rice on the stovetop anymore!


Paprika Rice

yield: 6 servings

The rich, alluring flavor of smoked Spanish paprika flavors this dish. It is easy to prepare and very delicious, making it the perfect side dish for just about anything. The flavors are especially good with Mexican or Spanish inspired meals, grilled chicken or tilapia flavored with lime juice and chile powder, or Mexican chorizo. For a quick meal, top hot paprika rice with a fried egg - keep the yolk soft for an extra delicious twist - and serve with sauerkraut. 

  • 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 3 cups water, broth, or mix (I did half and half)
  • 3/4 tsp unrefined salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2-3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro, or more to taste
  • unrefined salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • optional garnishes: extra virgin olive oil, chopped cilantro, smoked Spanish paprika

Soak rice in 6 cups of water for 6-12 hours. Drain rice in a fine colander, and discard water. Rinse rice very well. Place rice in a rice cooker with vegetables, broth/water, olive oil, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander.  Stir together, then place cover on rice cooker and cook per manufacturer's recommendation.

If you don't have a rice cooker, do the same thing but place in a pot on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Let cook about 45 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Remove cover and toss rice with a fork. Add fresh cilantro to hot rice and stir, seasoning with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl, and if desired, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with additional chopped fresh cilantro and a dusting of smoked paprika. Serve.

Store leftovers in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 


Braised Greens with Black Olives (gluten-free, vegan, ACD)


The other night when I opened my refrigerator, I was greeted by an eccentric mix of edibles. I had jars of rhubarb pickles, pickled beets, sauerkraut, preserved lemons, diluted coconut milk, and two massive bags of rhubarb crowding the lower shelf. Homemade mayonnaise and mustards, flax oil, hemp oil, cod liver oil, curry pastes, anchovies, and miso crowded the compartments on the door. I had beet kvass, kefir grains, a tiny amount of yogurt, a gnarly nob of fresh horseradish, lots of eggs, two kinds of hummus from the food swap, three (three!!!) varieties of homemade rhubarb sauces, and one package of elk pork sausage on other shelves. In my crisper drawer, I found a stray bulb of kohlrabi, lots of spinach, 1 bunch of kale, 2 stalks green garlic, and the requisite carrots and celery.


My generally spastic lack of meal and ingredient planning seemed to be exhibiting itself in full form. Goodness gracious. I looked at that colorful assortment and wondered what in the world I would make for dinner. I had a ton of food, but it was all unusual. A woman can't live on rhubarb or fermented vegetables alone (although the last few weeks, I've been awfully close).

I wasn't terribly hungry, so I defaulted to sauteed greens, dotted with onions, those green garlic stalks, and oily, rich black Moroccan olives. Those olives absolutely win me over, day or night, and I thought they would add a wonderful richness to light spring greens. I added a little broth, a little splash of balsamic vinegar, and - voila - a beautiful dinner was made!

And, as a side note, while the greens cooked, I managed to eat a buckwheat muffin, snack on some cashews, and finished up two of the waning rhubarb sauces. I served them over leftover yogurt on different sides of the bowl. Geez. So much for not feeling "hungry". I felt like a fancy compost pile, absorbing whatever tasty foods needed to be cleaned out of the fridge! Finally settling down with a big bowl of these greens was a delightful end to my rather, uh, scattered dinner. 


Braised Greens with Black Olives

Yield: 2-4 servings

You could easily substitute either the spinach or kale with equivalent amounts of another dark leafy green, such as Swiss chard, collards, dandelion greens, or mustard greens. I would recommend getting oil-cured Moroccan black olives, as the recipe calls for, if making this recipe. They have a very rich rich, oily, figgy, salty flavor that sets them apart from their conventional brine-packed black olive cousins. Find them at co-ops, natural foods stores, gourmet markets, or middle Eastern markets. They will not be packed in brine, and are considered a "dry" olive. Sometimes you can find these dry olives packed with thyme, Herbes de Provence, garlic, or red pepper flakes - any of those flavors would also work very well. If you cannot find Moroccan oil-cured olives, you could always substitute kalamata olives, which will have a very different flavor but will be better for this recipe than canned black or green olives.

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 stalks green garlic or 2 small leeks
  • 1/3 cup pitted oil-cured Moroccan black olives
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth, divided
  • 3 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 3 cups packed fresh kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
  • pinch aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice)

Slice onion. Trim the long, darker green leaves off the garlic stalk, and finely slice the head and light green portions of the stalk. Finely chop the pitted black olives.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add onion and green garlic (or leeks) and saute for 5 minutes. Then add olives and 1/2 cup broth, stir, cover, and braise for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and replacing cover. Onions should be quite tender at this point. Add greens on top of onions, add remaining broth, and cover. Braise for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until greens are tender. Then remove cover and let cool for 3-5 more minutes, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate. Remove from heat and sprinkle with aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes and balsamic or lemon, if using. Serve warm.


A Farmers Market Demo with Sweet 'n Sour Rhubarb Pickles and Rhubarb-Apple Compote (gluten-free, cane sugar free, vegan options)

Preparing ingredients for Rhubarb Apple Compote

On Saturday, June 11, I gave a rhubarb-themed cooking demonstration at the Minneapolis Farmers Market during their weekly Market Talk segment. This was my third cooking demonstration at the market, and as usual, it was an absolute blast. Market Talk host (and local food blogger) Emily Noble and I walked the crowd through a brief history of rhubarb, shared suggestions for selecting and storing rhubarb, and gave advice on how to care for plants of your own. Then I demonstrated how to prepare Sweet 'n Sour Rhubarb Pickles and Rhubarb-Apple Compote, recipes that I had developed for the event. Despite the rather chilly temperature and high gusts of wind that nearly took away our tent a few times, it was very sunny and the market was hopping. 

As usual, I had a wonderful kitchen setup to work with, complete with large stainless tables, utensils, a gas-powered double burner, and a snazzy microphone headset. Emily shopped the market that morning for the freshest, most beautiful rhubarb, apples, ginger, local honey and maple syrup, and a few other ingredients. I came armed with everything else I needed, including one of my favorite vintage aprons. 

Preparing ingredients for Rhubarb Apple CompoteStirring the Rhubarb-Apple CompoteExplaining the process for making Sweet and Sour Rhubarb Pickles

The crowd was highly engaged and interested, asking lots of questions and offering up their favorite ways to prepare rhubarb. They even laughed at my jokes! My assistant (yes, I had an assistant!) passed out samples, which were quickly eaten up by the crowd and received enthusiastic smiles and thumbs-ups all around. And the retention rate was excellent, even though the demonstration went well over an hour.  

Curious about the recipes? The pickles are a sweet and sour pickle, heavily flavored with clove, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger in an apple cider vinegar and honey (or maple syrup) brine. They celebrate the natural sourness of rhubarb rather than trying to cover it with lots of sugar. It's like they say, "I'm sour, love me for it!"  The compote was the sweet counterpoint to the pickles, an aromatic and flavorful mix of apples, rhubarb, raisins, honey or maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, cooked together with apple juice. The high amount of pectin in apples allows the compote to thicken considerably, creating a luscious fruit mixture that is ideal eaten on its own, over ice cream or yogurt, or with pancakes or waffles. 

I passed out a recipe booklet of some of my favorite rhubarb recipes from my kitchen and my family's kitchen, which included both the pickles and the compote. The recipe booklet was a hit with the crowd and I will share it with you here on the blog. But first, I need to scan my hand-illustrated cover and attach it to the Word document, then set the whole thing up in Google docs so you can have access to it or figure out how to load a PDF into this post. When I do, I'll be sure to let you know!  

In the meantime, I want to share the recipes for the two recipes that I demonstrated that day. I hope you enjoy them. Happy rhubarb season!

Previous Farmers Market demonstration recaps and recipes:


Kim’s Sweet ‘n Sour Rhubarb Pickles 

By Kim Christensen

These pickles are inspired by cucumber bread and butter pickles. They are sour, sweet, and heavily spiced, and are a bold addition to a relish tray or served with Indian, Middle Eastern, or North African dishes. A fun and unexpected way to preserve the rhubarb harvest! I like this recipe because it celebrates the naturally tart, sour quality of rhubarb, rather than hiding it below lots of sugar. Rhubarb tends to be a bit fibrous and hard to bitd through, so you may opt to cut your stalks into shorter, bite-size pieces. 

Yield: 2 pints or 1 quart

  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar (I suggest using raw and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, such as those by Bragg's or Eden Organic)
  • ¾ cup filtered water
  • 1 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 ¼ - 1 ½ pound rhubarb, thin stalks if possible (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • 1 ½ inches peeled ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice berries
  • 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 dry chili peppers

Place vinegar, water, and maple syrup/honey in a saucepan over medium heat. While mixture heats, cut rhubarb stalks into lengths that fit inside the jar with approximately 1-inch headspace (about 4-inches long if using a pint jar). If your rhubarb stalks are much thicker, slice them in half or quarters so they are about 1/2-inch x 1/2-inch before cutting into 4-inch lengths. Set rhubarb aside.

Divide cloves, allspice, and fennel between the jars. Then place rhubarb stalks inside, tucking sliced ginger, chili peppers, and cinnamon sticks between the stalks.

Pour boiling vinegar mixture over rhubarb until jars are full, leaving about ½-inch headspace and making sure rhubarb stalks are fully covered. If you have leftover brine, save to use for salad dressings or other pickling projects.  Screw on jar tops and let cool on kitchen counter until approximately room temperature. Then place in the refrigerator. For best flavor, let sit for 1-2 weeks before consuming. 

IMG_2255.jpgRhubarb Apple Compote served over organic yogurt is a wonderful breakfast or light dessert.

Rhubarb-Apple Compote 

By Kim Christensen

Sweet and aromatic, this compote is excellent served warm or chilled. For a simple fruit dessert, it can be served alone, or spooned over yogurt (as in photos above) or ice cream. It is also very good served over pancakes or waffles. For a savory twist, serve alongside grilled or roasted pork or chicken. The flavors of this dish are perfect for autumn, so freeze some of your rhubarb to use later on this year when the seasons change!

Yield: approximately 1 quart

  • 3 cups rhubarb, sliced in 1-inch x ½-inch pieces (about 1 pound rhubarb) - use either fresh or frozen (not thawed)
  • 3 apples, quartered, cored, and chopped in 1-inch x ½-inch pieces (about 1 pound apples)
  • ½ cup raisins or currants
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup (or more or less, to taste)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Prepare rhubarb and apples as directed. Place in a saucepan with raisins/currants, apple juice, and spices. Bring to a high simmer over medium-high heat, then turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove cover and stir in honey, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Replace cover and let sit for 3-5 more minutes. Let cool slightly before serving, mixture will thicken as it cools. This is also excellent served chilled. 


Quick Roasted Kabocha Squash (gluten-free, ACD, vegan option)

Quick Roasted Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash is my favorite squash. Also referred to as the Japanese pumpkin, kabocha squash look like a cross between a pumpkin and an acorn squash. The dark green skin becomes very soft when cooked and is very much edible (no peeling needed!), and the flesh inside is sweet, dense, creamy, and richly flavored. Kabocha is one of the first foods I turned to when I changed my diet over three years ago, and we have been in a true romance ever since.

Very similar to the nutritional make up of other winter squashes, kabocha is an excellent choice. Winter squashes are full of complex carbohydrates and digestion-stimulating fiber. This means that they have a relatively low glycemic index, so your blood won't sugar spike and your metabolism will remain more level. It is jam-packed with loads of nutrition, boasting admirable amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and even some protein. From an energetic standpoint, kabocha squash is extremely warming and grounding, and helps to nourish and support the spleen and pancreas. Therefore, it is often suggested in Chinese medicine or macrobiotic diet plans as a way to strengthen digestion and support overall health.  


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