One morning last week, I felt a stirring in bed. I looked at the clock – 4:30 AM. Andy was sitting up, typing on his Blackberry. I asked, ‘Why are you awake?’ he replied, ‘Can’t sleep, thinking about work stuff.’ He had to give a presentation to more than fifty people that morning and I knew he was nervous. I told him to try and go to sleep, then rolled over and slept until six. I got up to go to the gym as usual, but found him at the couch on his laptop, working – my instinct was to stay home and make him breakfast, but I have to maintain my life and schedule. He told me he’d probably be gone by the time I got home. I wished him luck, kissed him, and slipped out the door.

As I was leaving the gym, I text him. “Are you still at home?” The response, “Yes but leaving in 15 mins.” For some reason, from some deep down place, I broke into a run. Eighteen degree temperature be damned, I had to get home. I ran six blocks and two avenues and when I got in the door he was doing up the last few buttons on his shirt. “You have to have breakfast before you go!” I said, heaving. “You can’t give a presentation on no sleep and an empty stomach!” He looked at the clock and back at me, “That’s really sweet babe, but how long will it take? Gotta get going. I have an early meeting.”

The previous afternoon I had been experimenting with a hot amaranth cereal I first posted about a year ago. This time I had added a little coconut oil, cinnamon and agave to the mix with wonderful results. I pulled it from the fridge, put a few cups in my small dutch oven and turned on the heat. I poured in some soy milk, mixing it until it resembled cream of wheat. Once it was warmed through, I added some chopped dried cranberries and almonds. It wasn’t a feast, but it was warm, and it was wholesome, and full of goodness.

I’d like to tell you that he loved the cereal because that would make for a better story, but when I asked him if it was good he gave me a bashful smile and said, “You know cinnamon isn’t really my jam” (hence why I have used cardamom for this recipe). But he ate it all. And as he buttoned up his waist coast and slipped on his shoes he pronounced, “But you know, I really do feel much better. Maybe my blood sugar was low or something. Thank you!”

I can’t express how it made me feel when he said that. I know it was only a bowl of hot cereal, but I felt empowered. I may not be able to help with the job, or the stress, or the sleeplessness, but I can nourish him with hot cereal. And that’s something.

Warm Amaranth with Coconut and Cardamom
Serves 4

Top the warm amaranth with chopped walnuts and dried apricots, and if you’re feeling a little naughty, a splash of cream. Substitute other warm spices for the cardamom, if you like—ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or allspice.

3 cups water
1 cup amaranth
Pinch salt
4 teaspoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons agave
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Bring water, amaranth, and salt to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, partially covered, until tender, sputtery, and lava-like in texture, about 25 minutes longer. Stir in coconut oil, agave, and cardamom and top with nuts and dried fruit if desired. (Cereal can be cooled, covered and refrigerated up to 5 days. Reheat, stirring in a little water or milk to loosen.)