It has been years since I have celebrated my birthday. One year, I just stopped celebrating.
I stopped asking people to come celebrate with me. You see, I had realized something. I realized that the majority of friends I have in my local area are not the type to remember my birthday unless I reminded them, or FaceBook sent a little reminder stating “It’s Amanda’s Birthday today!” (which does have its benefits at times). Nor, are they the type to reach out to me and celebrate my being here. It was a big ol’ horse pill to swallow and one that did not go down well at the time. It’s an interesting experience, letting go of expectations and accepting people exactly as they are, then choosing what it is you want to do.
Upon piercing the veil of illusions – the veils of friendship, the veils of celebrations, the veils of everything I was seeing around me and not participating in when it came to birthdays, celebrations, etc – I stopped. I walked away from my birthday and my celebrating the day I arrived here on this flying spaceship, living planet called Gaia/Earth. The day I decided to make my grand entrance onto this planet and into this world. The day where I fully chose to be here now and give this human experience another go-round.
I stopped and I walked away from myself.
Last week, I decided it was high time for me to welcome myself home again, to celebrate my birth, my choice to be in-bodied in this incredible avatar here in this day and age.
I choose to take this remarkable day to honor who I am, the incredible growth over the year, the ups and downs, the times when I cried for days feeling my pain, the times when my heart burst with so much love, and gratitude, and beauty, that tears fell from my eyes, the times when I laughed so hard that my belly and face hurt from laughing so much…the times when I saw myself reflected in another…
to intentionally pause, see, witness, and embrace the woman I have become and am becoming. I choose to take this day of my birth to love myself in ways I have not given myself permission to in the past.
On this day, I choose to celebrate the cycles of my own birth-death-birth/live-death-live processes.
I choose to be present with myself and my connection to all life, celebrating, in my own way, the parts of myself that have died over the years, the skin that I have shed, the letting go of who I have thought I needed to be or should be, so that I could step into who I am and behold myself as one would a new born. I am so very much looking forward to seeing myself and welcoming myself home.
In welcoming myself home, I am un-baking myself a cake and loading it up with all sorts of goodies to fortify and amplify my health and well-being. It’s my wish to share with you my raw, vegan, superfood chocolate cheesecake.
Raw, Vegan, Superfood Chocolate Cheesecake
Basic cheesecake recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
2 1/2c raw cashews (soaked)
1 TB vanilla bean paste or extract
1/2c pure maple syrup
1/4c plus 1 TB melted coconut oil
juice of 3 lemons
1/4c living, spring water
1/8 tsp Celtic sea salt
1/2c raw cacao powder
1 TB schisandra berry powder
1 TB lycium powder
Optional: frozen berries or dried, candied orange slices to top
Makes 1 cheesecake, or 4 cheese-tartlettes
Soak the cashews 4-6 hours or overnight. Strain well. In a high-powdered blender, or food processor, combine all of the ingredients (except for the optional ones and anything you are putting on top), and blend until smooth.
Pour into either a spring-foam pan, a pie pan, or small tart pans. You could use muffin tins as well. I recommend lining any and all of the above with parchment paper.
Place into the freezer and freeze until ready to eat. Thaw for ~15 min. prior to serving and top with your favorite toppings.
A lot of what I choose to eat and supplement my biology with is purely intuitive. Over the years, through much practice, I’ve learned to tune into and provide what my body is asking for. A couple of weeks ago, I felt called to incorporate Himalayan Shilajit into my biology. I don’t know why, but I tend to smell everything before I eat it. So, I smelled the Shilajit and was surprised to be transported back to my childhood and Band-Aids. Yes, the scent of Shilajit reminds me of Band-Aids.
Why would I want to ingest something that smells like Band-Aids? Beats me. But, I did and I have been. The flavor is a bit strong and definitely it’s own thing, unlike anything else I’ve eaten. Like anything else, when the body want something and needs something, I kind of go for it. You know what? I like it and, I miss eating it if I happen to not have it on a given day.
What is Himalayan Shilajit?
Shilajit is formed from the compression of organic materials between the rock fissures within the Himalayas. In the summer months, this compressed biomass oozes out of these fissures.
Himalayan Shilajit, also known as “the Conqueror of Mountains and the Destroyer of Weakness,” contains over 85 plant-based minerals and trace elements in an ionic and bio-available form. Minerals that are bio-available are ready for uptake and integration into our system without our bodies needing to break down, or catalyze, the minerals first. Himalayan Shilajit also contains fulvic acid, which aids in the cellular uptake of the minerals and trace elements.
What are some of the benefits of Himalayan Shilajit?
- Adaptogen. Shilajit helps the body to adapt to given stressors, much like many tonic herbs. It helps the body fight stress and fatigue, while providing energy at the cellular level.
- Energizes. Shilajit helps the body produce additional ATP (adenosine triphosphate) – our body’s primary source of energy.
- Anti-aging. Shilajit activates, stabilizes, and revitalizes CoQ10, an important cofactor in mitochondrial production. The mitochondria serve as the body’s energetic powerhouse and is used in the production ATP.
- Decreases fatigue and turbo-charges the body. Shilajit contains humic acid. Humic acid increases the rate of electron transfer to the mitochondria, which, in turn, increases the production of ATP (energy). Humic acid is bio-available.
- Helps to maintain brain function. Shilajit inhibits the enzyme responsible for catalyzing (breaking down) acetylcholine — a neurotransmitter responsible for memory retention and attention span.
- May help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Shilajit brings additional oxygen, minerals, and nutrients to the brain, which assists the body’s natural ability to self-protect against plaque forming proteins amyloid beta and tau.
- Calms the nervous system. Shilajit has been shown to increase parasympathetic activity, thereby decreasing stress (the fight or flight response) within the body.
- Boosts performance and pleasure. Shilajit may trigger the release of dopamine – the feel good hormone – as well as increase performance when under stress.
- Supports fertility. Shilajit has been shown to increase sperm production by 60% and activity by 12%.
According to Ron Teeguarden, Shilajit’s traditional functions are:
- “Jing tonic – Tones the sexual organs, supports sexual energy and stamina (traditionally considered to be an “aphrodisiac”), supports healthy prostate function
- Qi tonic – Enhances energy and stamina.
- Shen tonic – Enhances spiritual power
- Enhances bioavailability and action of other herbs
- Detoxifying – huge high-valence surface area collects debris and free radicals, cleansing the blood and tissues of the body
- A carrier – binds to herbal constituents and minerals, delivering them to their targets
- A catalyst – promotes the activity of minerals and organic constituents
- Supports urinary functions
- Supports healthy microcirculation
- Supports healthy menstrual functions
- Supports the immune system
- Supports healthy fat metabolism
- Supports lung functions
- Used for general fortification and tonification of the entire body.”
Myth and legend surround the mighty baobab tree. The baobab is known as the African Tree of Life. According to some African bushmen,
With such legend, one might assume that the mighty baobab has some incredible benefits, yes? Yes! I recently stumbled across the mighty baobab, have been researching it, and incorporating it into my biology. It turns out that this tree and its fruit have quite a few benefits that are naturally used in traditional African medicine.
What are the benefits of the mighty baobab?
Powerful antioxidant. Baobab fruit is high in Vitamin C. One single serving contains ~80% of the RDV of Vitamin C. The baobab fruit powder has an integral antioxidant capacity that is 37x greater than that of oranges and 3x the antioxidants found in blueberries. The baobab seed oil contains Vitamins A, D, and E as well as Omega 3, 6, and 9.
Analgesic. The fruit pulp is shown to have pain relieving affects similar to that of aspirin.
Hepatoprotective. The pulp has been shown to have a protective and restorative effect on damaged livers in rats. I personally am curious if baobab fruit helps to heal livers damaged by flukes (platyhelminths).
Anti-diarrhea. The fruit pulp contains ~50% fiber (equal parts soluble and insoluble) as well as tannins and citric acid.
Pre-biotic. Gut health – yes! The soluble fiber in the pulp stimulates the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. When the pulp powder is combined with certain ferments, it may prevent and/or inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella sp., Bacillus sp., and Streptococcus sp.
Reduce fever. The bark, fruit pulp, and seeds may be used to reduce fever, particularly in cases of malaria.
Anti-viral. The fruit, leaves and seeds may act as an anti-viral against herpes, flu, and respiratory viruses.
Anti-trypanosoma. Baobab roots serve as anti-trypanosoma (an anti-parasitic) and reduce or eliminate the motility of trypanosomes – the causative agent of sleeping sickness.
Skin care/beautification. A decoction of baobab roots promote smooth skin.
I found these traditional medicinal uses particularly interesting:
The leaves may be used as an anti-asthmatic and anti-histamine. They may also be used in the treatment of Guinea worm (a parasitic worm), urinary tract diseases, eye and ear inflammations.
The bark may be used as a substitute for quinine in reducing fever and as a remedy for toothache. In addition, the bark, fruit pulp and seeds are used as an antidote to the poison often used on arrows.
The dried fruit pulp, which tastes similar to a mild creamsicle, is available through various super food retailers. In addition to all of the benefits listed above, baobab pulp is also rich in B Vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, and manganese.
How can you use baobab?
- Add it to your morning smoothie.
- Add it to homemade ice-cream (dairy or vegan).
- Sprinkle it on your yogurt.
- Mix it in a smoothie bowl.
- Add it to un-baked, or baked goods.
How do you use baobab? If you have a favorite recipe that you would like to see featured on my blog, email it to me with a picture of your mighty baobab creation (amanda(at)onalimb(dot)org) and I’ll feature it in an upcoming blog post.
Kabore, Donatien, H. Sawadogo-Lingani, B. Diawara, C.S. Compaore, M.H. Dicko, and M. Jakobsen. 2011. A review of baobab (Adansonia digitata) products: Effect of processing techniques, medicinal properties and uses. African Journal of Food Science. 5(16): 833-844.
Images: theholbox(dot)com, bumblerootfoods(dot)com
Before diving into 10 benefits of MSM, you may be wondering — what is MSM? MSM, is also known as methylsulfonylmethane. It contains sulfur, a mineral which we are largely deficient in due to the poor mineral concentrations in the majority of soils today. Even if you eat large quantities of plants high in sulfur, it’s still likely you may be deficient in this superfood.
What are 10 benefits of MSM?
- Reduce pain. MSM is an anti-inflammatory and natural analgesic (pain reliever). It also increases cellular permeability and dilates blood vessels, increasing circulation and the removal of waste products from the cells, decreasing time needed to heal from injury and wounds. MSM is also a muscle relaxant.
- Is a synergist. MSM aids in the uptake of vitamin C, all B vitamins, CoQ10, amino acids, calcium, magnesium, and more.
- Antioxidant. MSM, particularly sulfur, aids in the production of glutathione – one of the key antioxidants in reducing oxidative stress.
- Detoxification. Aids in the removal of heavy metal toxicity and cellular waste products. In addition, the production of glutathione assists the liver in removing waste products from the body.
- Improves neurological function. MSM can cross the blood-brain barrier, improving cellular function and removing heavy metal toxicity within the brain cells. It may also improve memory.
- Reduces/relieves allergies. MSM may work as an antihistamine and works to heal the mucosa within the gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts as well as the respiratory system. This decreases the availability for allergen, pathogen, and parasite binding.
- Reduces the severity of autoimmune disorders. The anti-inflammatory, analgesic, detoxification, mucosal healing, and antioxidant effects of MSM help to reduce auto-immune reactions, particularly in and around joints and connective tissue.
- Helps to balance blood sugar. Sulfur is needed for proper structure and function of insulin, essential in carbohydrate metabolism.
- Reduces muscle soreness and cramps. When taken prior to training, MSM may reduce post-training muscle soreness and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). When consumed after training, MSM aids in reducing muscle cramps and increasing recovery between training sessions.
- Beautifies skin, hair, and nails. Sulfur is needed in the production of collagen and keratin — two proteins required for healthy hair, skin, and nails. It helps keep skin smooth, soft and youthful looking, hair shiny.