I’ve been on the paleo diet for over three and a half years. It’s been the single most impactful thing I’ve done for myself in the past decade. And sharing my experiences with family and friends has changed some of their lives, too. I have plenty of posts on my blog about my paleo experiences over the years so I’m not going to repeat them all here, except to say headaches, back pain, sleepless nights, low energy, flabby belly, irregularity, droopy eyes, and hair loss are all problems of the past. Please feel free to search the site or contact me for information. If you’re looking for a change, or if you’re being told you should make a change, and you’re consistently reading about change, then do something about it. Yesterday, at the local mall, I was drawn by a wonderful smell wafting down the hallway. In the distance a crowd gathered. It smelled sweet. It smelled buttery. It was a fudge factory. And like a dog, I kept walking closer. After all, it’s the holidays. I’m on vacation. Giant mounds of fudge were being carefully tended to behind glass, the workers at a safe distance from the public ready to pounce on any sign of a free sample. And I found myself in the middle of them all, pushing closer just in case they were handing out a bite. After all, it’s the holidays. I’m on vacation. There were dozens of us, standing there, waiting for instructions on how to taste the new batch, a log 6-8 inches in diameter and about 6 feet long on a giant marble slab. I could sense that there was maple involved, and walnuts, and I saw swirls of chocolate. I was crazed with anticipation. You could see a woman laying out trays of cup cake papers in which to put the samples of fudge, cut right from the log. And behind her, a man was preparing the next batch, wheeling a bowl on a specially built table to a closet bin at the back of the room. And without hesitation, the man grabbed a shovel from another bin and started shoveling…shoveling sugar into the bowl. I realized the bowl on the specially built table was also connected to a scale, and the red needle was bouncing and surging with every shovel full of sugar. Almost five, then ten, then fourteen, then eighteen, then twenty-two or three, then, then thirty pounds of sugar? At that moment, I snapped out of it and realized why I stopped eating sugar to begin with. The average american eats over 150 pounds of sugar a year. Remember that average means some eat more and some eat less. Which are you? I couldn’t stand the thought of eating more than my body weight in sugar, yet there I stood, in line, scrambling to spend $8 per pound for something that was mostly made of a 30 cents per pound ingredient. And, then I noticed that I was standing among people foaming at their mouths, with swollen stomachs, clamoring to get the fudge, some of them holding hands with their rotund, little children. It’s almost 2015, people! Get with the program! Reality check! It doesn’t make a lot of sense that with all the evidence out there, with all the press about processed foods, sugar, corn, and gluten, that you’re still eating it. As much as I think I know about the dangers of common foods found in Western diets, I keep finding more data, more evidence, and more information exposing more truths about poor diets. Yet, there I stood, in line, ready to catch a bite of the next fudge sample being handed out at the mall, unconsciously following the crowd to the yummy treat, out of impulse. I decided to turn around and walk away. Awareness is key. Self awareness is key. A few days earlier, my niece wanted to put out cookies for Santa. Luckily, I had a fresh batch of paleo cookies on hand: sweet potato, walnut, almond. Guess what, no sugar. And Santa ate them all. Of course he did. They’re good and way more nutritious than an ordinary chocolate chip cookie. He’s obviously paleo. If he wasn’t he’d have diabetes and wouldn’t be able to do all the things he does like run around the globe delivering presents all night. “It doesn’t make sense to be fat when you could be skinny and carry more presents”. So says my niece… Here’s my paleo cookie recipe. 1 cup diced and roasted sweet potato or yam, 1 cup almond meal, 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, 1 T cinnamon, 1/2 t baking powder, 1 egg, 1/4 cup light coconut milk, 2-4 Medjool dates (skinned, pitted, mixed with 1/8 cup water to make a paste), 2T olive oil. Preheat oven to 400, dice a large sweet potato or yam, toss with olive oil and roast for 12-15 minutes until crispy edges and soft. Mix egg, coconut milk, and date paste in a separate bowl. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix together and add potato. Use a whisk or wooden spoon to thoroughly mix all ingredients. Grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil and lay out 12-14 cookie shaped pieces. Bake for 12-15 minutes. I like mine with close to burnt edges but you may prefer a softer cookie. Be prepared to run out quickly, so you might as well make two batches at a time. Remember, like anything else, just because they’re good doesn’t mean you should eat them all. Portion control is a key to paleo. Don’t eat more than two cookies unless you’re eating protein, too. Enjoy!