The term “paleo diet” is a bit deceiving… let me explain.
When you think diet what comes to mind? For me, its visions of rule lists, timetables, meetings, weigh-ins, juice fasts, cardboard fake-food… and the inevitably painful fall off of the bandwagon. Diets, as we know the term in pop culture, are temporary. They only last as long as our will power and the weight loss results are equally as fleeting.
The paleo “diet”, on the other hand, is much more deserving of the title “lifestyle”. Aside from a few general guidelines: “decrease grains, sugar and processed foods”, everything else boils down to personal semantics, health, and tradeoffs. For example, I have found that it helps my health immensely to abstain from grains entirely about 90% of the time and the other 10% stick to only the occasional potato or corn chip. This means increasing my protein intake, which I have also found to be every beneficial. I’ve also substituted honey for about 90% of my sweetening needs and cut out most processed foods. These things have all been hugely positive steps towards healthy living for me. However, I’ve had to make choices. Eating more meat comes with a bit of a price tag and I can often not afford for all of my meat to be local, organic or grass-fed. I want it to be, I wish it was, I love the local farm we get our meat from sometimes, but often getting all of meat locally is not an option right now. Does that mean I failed at being paleo? No. It means I have goals I would like to work towards, but my paleo hierarchy involves me eating meat over eating meat from a certain place, at least some weeks. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I eat dairy because I can tolerate it, I enjoy it and it doesn’t make me sick. I have a dear, paleo following friend who breaks out in hives as soon as she eats a bite of cheese… her paleo hierarchy puts not eating dairy right at the top.
Really, I think this concept has always been fundamental to traditional diets, the ancestral diet of people dwelling near a body of water would have differed significantly from that of a group of Paleolithic mountain dwellers. Paleo is not a diet, it is a choice to live a simplified lifestyle centered around wholesomeness, life, and living the way we were intended to live.
“What on earth does any of this have to do with a peanut butter cookie?”, you may be asking yourself. Well, for many people peanut butter is a serious no no on the paleo front. Peanuts, as it turns out, are not actually nuts. They are legumes and their growth under the soil and the way they are processed often leads to residual toxins and chemicals along with some added sugar in your peanut products. Not to mention that fact that, for many, peanut butter is downright addictive. Now don’t get me wrong, its downright tasty, but I am not addicted to it and often one spoonful is perfectly fine for me. I do not eat peanut butter on a regular basis and I would certainly recommend you not eat it for its nutritional value. However, for us it does constitute a paleo treat.
Last Thursday was a big TV watching night for us. We have an antenna and get about 7 channels, so watching TV shows when they actually air is a rare occurrence. However, my husband and I absolutely love the show Elementary and there was a two-hour season finale that I desperately wanted to watch. This, on top of the fact that we were both having serious sweet cravings led to some impromptu cookie baking. I knew we had a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard and I have a wonderful flourless Peanut butter cookie recipe that I know by heart, the only problem was that it was filled with white sugar and I was not willing to stray that far from the path. Than it dawned on me, that a few months back my wonderful aunt bought me a container of Coconut Secret Coconut Crystals, a natural, low GI sweetener. I had not tried them out yet but they have a physical consistency similar to that of granulated sugar so I figured it was worth a shot. It worked perfectly! The cookies were delicious and accompanied our thrilling season finale watching perfectly!
*A quick note of the coconut crystals: this is, again, another paleo gray area. The crystals are made of pure coconut sap and have a GI of 35 compared to table sugar, which has a GI of about 64. This means that its benefits are that it does not spike your blood sugar and increase your appetite the way that refined sugar does. However, because of the refining process needed to crystallize the coconut sap, most of the nutritional value in the sap is lost. Therefore, it is my personal opinion that this is a great sweetener to use in those very occasional recipes where subbing honey is not an option. However, it is to be used only in small small small moderation.
1 Cup of Peanut Butter (preferably natural)
1 Cup of Coconut Crystals
1 Tsp of Vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, crystals, egg, and vanilla. Mix well until blended thoroughly. Using a spoon or small scoop, form the dough into balls and place onto a greased or lined cookie sheet. Then use the tongs of a fork to flatten slightly. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges begin to get golden brown. Move the cookies on to a rack and allow them to firm up and cool. Enjoy!