Amaranth is a forgotten grain. It's the hardest to find in a store, on a menu, and even at specialty shops and restaurants. The taste and texture may contribute to it. We often liken the smell of dried amaranth to grasshoppers and the texture to slime. I know I'm not doing a good job at proving why you should eat this but, don't worry, I will!
Amaranth is the most mineral-dense grain on the planet. Or at least that I'm aware of. This is why it smells so strong and tastes so unique. Amaranth is loaded with calcium. magnesium, iron, trace minerals, and protein. In fact, it has more digestible protein than any other plant sources AND it is complete in that it is full of L-Lysine: the amino acid that most grains lack.
L-Lysine is a superstar amino acid that helps prevent and treat viruses and viral breakouts like shingles, herpes, and possibly even HIV. It protects the immune system, strengthens the skin, and helps create healthy muscles and collagen structures like tendons and ligaments in the body.
It is said that there is no malnourishment wherever Amaranth is eaten. As far as growing it, it grows nearly anywhere, in any climate, and can easily thrive in poor soil, drought conditions, and the cold. The nutrient density of this grain and its ability to grown anywhere makes it extremely beneficial for a world that is running out of whole foods and room. This grain is sustainable, vital, and SO good for you.
Now, about the taste, how does one work with it? I recommend starting with this tasty breakfast porridge. You'll need:
1 cup amaranth
1 cup coconut milk from the can (or homemade/store bought nut milks)
1/2 pint blueberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
maple syrup or raw honey
1) Simply add 1 cup of amaranth to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, simmer and keep covered for 15-25 minutes until most water is absorbed. It should resemble cream of wheat porridge.
2) Add everything else except for the walnuts or honey, stir well, and let it sit covered for another 5 minutes.
3) Pour a serving into a bowl, top with crushed walnuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a drizzle of your preferred sweetener (optional) and enjoy this warm, creamy, delicious and nutritious breakfast!
It makes a great snack and post-workout food as well. Your kids will love it if you add organic cocoa powder to it and chill it in the fridge. It tastes like a decadent chocolate pudding that way. Perhaps the kid in you will love it too?
I first discovered Amaranth many years ago when I was detoxing my liver and curing Candida in my gut. Amaranth porridge was an essential part of my diet. It's a great food for anyone with stomach issues as the grain is less abrasive because it creates a soothing mucilage rather than an abundance of indigestible fiber like wheat or brown rice.
Black beans are a staple in our diet. There are many reasons for this. They are, among other things, good for:
- our kidneys
- our hair
- our skin
- our livers
- our digestive systems
- our environment
- our wallets
When I tell people this I often get the response: "Oh yeah, well then why all the gas???". One compound: phytic acid. This acid, prevalent in all grains and legumes, is responsible for preventing proper protein digestion, therefor resulting in fermentation and gas, bloating, cramps, etc.
The secret to beans is one beautiful weed. It dances beneath turbulent waves along the coastline, it is home to many beautiful creatures, and it holds the power to heal and beautify by supplying every single mineral that your blood needs in the perfect amount. What is this mystery panacea? Kelp!
Kelp grows like a beautiful forest under the sea and contains a specific enzyme that breaks down phytic acid from beans, allowing them to be better digested AND taste sweeter. Kelp also adds every mineral you need to the beans, along with a huge dose of iodine which can protect the sexual organs from cancer, the body from radiation, and regulate the thyroid gland.
So how do we use these two ingredients? It's so simple. All you do is soak your beans overnight, then boil them in water with the seaweed the next day. That's it! This will remove the phytic acid, make the beans more digestible, and infuse them with healing minerals.
Here's my recipe:
1 Cup of black beans
1 palm-full of kelp/kombu (torn or in one whole sheet)
1) Soak beans overnight, then strain and rinse in the morning.
2) Add kelp/kombu to the bottom of a pot, then top with soaked beans.
3) Fill water until the beans are submerged 1 - 2 inches beneath the water.
4) Bring to a boil, then skim off the foam that is created. **This is the phytic acid leaving**
5) Once foam stops accumulating, lower to a simmer and cover the beans for 45 minutes to 2 hours - or until desired tenderness.
*Once tender, the beans can be seasoned with cumin powder to increase digestibility or celtic grey salt can be added to improve flavor and warmth in the Winter.
The beans can be strained through a colander if you want them separated, or the cover can be removed as they cool - this will allow most water to steam off, leaving you with a more refried texture and higher mineral content.
Add beans to your pasta meals, brown rice, soups, and steamed vegetables. Eating a serving of these every day will give you tons of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and very little fat - making it extremely healthy for your heart, cholesterol levels, liver, and colon.
Enjoy these humble, healing gems and reap the benefits!
It's so easy to mistaken an angel for a villain. It's like when someone says "it was a blessing in disguise". The same is true for angels. They don't always remember what they're doing here, why they're here, or what their purpose is. You may be one of them. They may be clad in white, nearly hovering over the ground with a serene smile that awakens us from our hopeless slumbers OR they may look like Nicholas Cage in some familiar Meg Ryan romantic drama about mortality, walking through the city streets with trench coats sun glasses, and unremarkable hairlines. We experience them every day, but I doubt they fit either of the above descriptions.
They're usually the angry boss, volatile ex-lover, abusive parent, school bully - someone who is creating such an intense environment that it forces us to reconcile parts of us and quickly leave for a more harmonious situation. I once had a job with an extremely toxic boss & for one whole year, each day that went by felt like an eternal Hell that would never end. Aemen said "Remember when you place garlic over a wart & the wart dies and falls out? He is your garlic". A smelly, sulfurous, burning, intense, bulbous....yeah - sounds like him!
So I thought about it more and decided that, yes, he was my angel. He was showing me that I reached my limit, that I had graduated from that part of my life. I could keep taking the same test every day, wearing the same clothing, and expecting the same outcome or I could use what I had learned and turn it into something new, uncharted, scary, and invigorating.
Well, that's just what I did. I created my own business with my own rules, my own schedule, and my own dress code. I was empowered, happy, broke as hell, and completely re-inspired. He was my angel. He was taking on all the parts of myself that I had run from in the past or that I still struggled with, my shadow or "dark" parts, and he was bringing them to the light.
This is what an angel does. They, usually unbeknownst to them, are brought into our lives to live out in an intense, concentrated fashion everything we hate or fear about ourselves. They show it to the public and to us. We, of course, recoil from them, gossip about them, dislike them, and, because of this, are continuously surrounded by them because, until we love them, we will never escape them. Because we can never escape ourselves.
Life is reflective. Angels are depicted as white, glowing lights - like mirrors. They are, in fact, walking mirrors. When we dislike someone or feel so invaded by someone, it is because we are being confronted with the parts of ourselves that are vulnerable, weak, and hidden. These angels are living a hard life. They are embodying little parts of us all the time. It's a full time job for them. It doesn't have to be for us.
Sending them love sends us love and then that part of ourselves that felt ugly, horrible, or ashamed can feel love. This is true unconditional love and it nourishes us to the core more than any food ever could. Like smoke from Sage, it frees that part of ourselves into the air, the ether, the cosmos and creates space within us for intervention.
Who are your angels?
One of the best parts of living with a shaman is that I get to experience all these impromptu healings. Last night Aemen finished a brand new elixir that she made especially for a woman who experienced sexual trauma. It's called Healing Chalice. It's a synergy of herbs, flower essences, and crystal essences into which she invoked all the prayers from all the women in the world for all the women in the world.
I was taking a very hot, very needed salt bath with warm candles and spruce oil when she came in and asked if she could add the gem essences for her new blend to my bath. The timing was amazing because I was currently listening to a song I had recorded earlier in the week titled Cowboys which was about healing my sexuality and past issues that I had dealt with as a young man. I'll be candid: I was extremely promiscuous in my teens and early twenties - to a debilitating degree. I let just about anyone into my sexual energy and I often felt ravaged, exhausted, and more alone than just being alone.
I wrote an album in 2009 called The Man Who Fell In Love With The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon inspired by a book called The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon. The book was such a wild, shamanic, poetic explanation to a generation of men and people being born two-spirited with defined masculine and feminine roles and where they absence of their fathers really traumatized and wounded them deeply into their hearts and DNAs.
So as I'm re-recording the songs for digital release and listening to a specific one about healing sexuality Aemen asks me if I'd like her Healing Chalice blend for my second chakra. I nearly imbibed the whole load! Instead, I let her calmly pour the cold water over my very hot pelvis and, like sage smoke, I felt it creeping its cold, deep tentacles through every single pore in my sexual organs and waist. It felt very healing, very cleansing, and I did a small prayer and let the bath water, which was know holding old, stuck energy, empty deep into the ground.
I dried off from the bath, cuddled on the couch with Aemen, jotted down some ideas, and drank a fresh, hot cup of dandelion root tea before going off to bed. Then I dreamt a long, deep, healing dream. My mother was driving a long van-like vehicle that had a steering wheel and windshield in the back and front (duality/sharing power). My father and I were in the back and he was entertaining me by pretending to drive the car, but my mother had dismantled his wheel so her's was the only functioning one. The car gently transformed into this tiny pod-like capsule that only my father and I could fit in. We were intimately snugged together as he drove us through these long, dark stone walls that seemed to go hundreds of feet into the ground. Much like a labyrinth. We kept going deeper, darker, and in greater circles, turns, and spellbinding patterns but I never felt scared or worried we'd be lost. He made me feel so safe, so secure. We were having so much fun.
We eventually returned above ground and, as we hurried home to meet my mother for her birthday, I realized that two realms were intertwining. The realm of 2004 and the current realm of 2015. I was about to go to a birthday party with my ex-fiance and everyone from my "old life" that I no longer felt connected to while I knew just across the border in New York was my new, magical life with Aemen and our soon-to-be baby, friends, business, and mountains. My father, Aemen, and I sat in a beach house and ate crab and lobster sandwiches while trying to figure out a way I could break it to everyone that I was from a future realm and I couldn't be part of their experience anymore.
Then I woke up.
What a chalice of healing!!! My dream was not just a dream, but a reawakening and total ritual for my Spirit and, most likely, DNA. That long, dark, stone-walled, labyrinth was no doubt the abandoned and even shamed parts of my sexuality, mind, and Spirit that my father walked through with me an healed. You see, I only grew up in a matriarch. My mother, aunt, and grandmothers were all I had for most of my childhood. Without a father, one never gets initiated into manhood, male sexuality, and all the power and healing that comes with it. One never learns what to do with that solar torch of puberty. Without fathers, we don't know how to honor it, control it, or use it to heal. The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon has a character name Shed who is a fatherless Ingin boy and a prostitute and along comes Dellwood Barker who is a handsome, bi-sexual Cowboy who teaches him how to use his sexual energy for love and healing - to the extent that they use his semen at one point in the book to save their friend's amputated legs.
The book is an intense drama of the "piss in the wind" because they don't have the father, the male elders, to pass them the torch and teach them how to use it. In my dream last night, my father finally passed me the torch and I was able to cut away my old realm once and for all and enter my current one fully with a more developed heart and a more deeply healed sacral chakra.
The second chakra is so different from the first. The first (root chakra) is male energy. It's a dagger, it's physical, it's explosive, it's focused and motivated and good at accomplishing, grounding, and being material. The second chakra (sacral) is like a chalice or a bowl. It's a place of healing, feminine waters. It's female sexuality. Male sexuality is the explosive catalyst: powerful, fast, and life affirming. Female sexuality is the actual creation. It's slow, deep, nurturing, and has the ability to use the male energy to then build a whole new body for a whole new Spirit, or hold the pain of others and let their feminine waters wash it clean. Healing the second chakra can mean healing sexual traumas, healing the relationship between inspiration and action, healing the feminine parts of us and activating them, and becoming deeper, slower, and more connected to our intuition.
Sexual abuse is such a general term. It can take on many forms depending on a person's boundaries. For me, I thought it was impossible. I thought because I had no sexual boundaries that I was exempt from the possibility of becoming sexually wounded. The truth is, having no sexual boundaries was my form of sexual abuse - self inflicted. It wasn't the strangers, dysfunctional love triangles, affairs, or my absent father. It was how I identified with sex. I separated my heart and emotions from my physical body. Looking back, it was because I would have had a breakdown if I was in touch with my emotions at the time, so I had to shut them out. Storing my heart away while being intimate for so many years induced a form of soul loss in me. I was totally lost. I didn't know how to feel love and I especially didn't know how to express love with my body. That's all changed now.
Now the heart can orgasm. Now the tears can flow when I feel sad, insecure, or ecstatic and inspired! Now I am able to put my ego aside and be a vulnerable person. I feel so blessed to have this intense relationship with Aemen, to have incredible healers and friends in my life, and have the willingness to be open enough to let go of my ego and heal what is wounded. To relinquish shame - that sticky, messy substance that keeps us stuck in time feeling hopeless and obstructing our view to our greater selves. Most of all, I feel honored that a new soul has chose Aemen and I to be their parents and I am so thrilled to walk with them through life and pass them every torch that I've since learned how to light.
While writing and thinking of my dream, I couldn't help but hear the song How To Be Invisible by Kate Bush. Have a listen if you'd like.
"Are those two people over there actually my REAL parents?"
- Laurie Anderson in "Another Day In America"
Aemen and I are about to be parents any day. She is fully pregnant, past her due date, and growing in anticipation as each day presents a new sensation that may be labor and that veil between the worlds, like her cervix, gets thinner and thinner slowly initiating this new soul into a human body and a human world. I had the feeling one day that we come from a magical spirit place and when we're born our minds keep us from remembering the details of that world. A dear friend of ours then had a similar insight, separate from mine, and felt the baby asking her (through the astral plane) for a specific crystal. So she bought it and brought it to our home so that the baby will have a physical object that, hopefully, will help them remember some things for the spirit world as they grow and live on a physical plane that, for most children, can feel strange and mundane - especially for the institutionalized children in the public school systems!
I sit back and cry sometimes out of happiness and relief that my child is being born into a community of spiritual, artist, and creative people who weave magic into their daily lives and honor the sacred feminine of the Goddess through Earth rituals and overall constant appreciation and blessings.
I was raised in the suburbs. I was raised around hospitals, schools, the news, fast food, shopping malls, corporations and, besides my mother keeping my spirit alive as best she could, there was no magic. I remember the strong feeling that my family is not my real family. I had a walk-in when I was 16 which is when another spirit, or your higher self, steps into your body and mind so that you can follow your true path or higher calling. It's like waking up. I remember it. I remember waking up and thinking " Oh wow, here I am! Was my entire life a dream?". I actually felt reconnected to my child self. The imaginative, hopeful, innocent, pansexual creature that just loved people, life, and felt loved by people and life. I immediately left home and embarked on a journey to find my Rainbow Family.
I knew that my Rainbow Family was in New York City. I knew my whole life. After a few years of trial and error, lots of hardship, lots of therapy, and lots of fun I found Aemen Bell at, of all places, an herbal apothecary. We connected immediately. I remember feeling like we played together as kids and had been reunited as adults again - even though we'd never met before then. The magical thing was that she sold her gem essences in a store in a whole other state and town that I happened to apprentice in several years before I even moved to New York City and met her. You see, the great Spirit was already weaving the tapestry for me to fall into my Rainbow Family.
Aemen taught me a lot about the Rainbow Family. It's your true family, your spirit family. Our blood families bring us here. It's their job to call us in from the stars and manifest us into physical form, care for us, and let us blossom into who and what we want to be. Often times, our blood families do not understand our spirits, interests, or even us. The Rainbow Family always does. The Rainbow Family is the friend that you feel you already know well without speaking. The person who lets you explore every deep and dark corner of yourself without judgement or fear. The person who doesn't load expectations or guilt on you. Your Rainbow Family is connected to their Spirits and understands that you're just reuniting again on this Earthly plane.
For some of you who are lucky enough to have the Rainbow Family in your bloodlines - celebrate them! It is a beautifully rare occurrence and should be nurtured and appreciated. For those of you who know you don't belong or you're simply not getting what you need emotionally and spiritually from your family, just divorce them. Walk away from whatever arrangement you think you should be fulfilling and only meet them where you can. If you can only nod while they talk about the news throughout dinner, then nod away. Find love where you can, but don't expect love from where you can't. The insanity, the pain, the trauma - all these things come from trying to force someone to love you a specific way. Leave the guilt behind of abandoning your family and embrace the pleasure of growing wings and flying into the big rainbow hug of your new community and family.
I knew finding Aemen was a big deal. We've been insuperable for over 5 years (even when we couldn't stand the sight of each other) and we both moved to Woodstock to find a community, our Rainbow Family. We found more than we could ever wish for. We found endless colorful people who's hearts are so deep, full, and resounding with pure unconditional love for us and these gorgeous mountain lands where we reside. It feels like a tribe. It is like a tribe.
Go, find your tribe.