It was a rainy day in Houston – the ideal day to stay home, catch up on some home organizing and to bake some delicious paleo pumpkin cookies. A snack I enjoyed with a glass of paleo-approved coconut milk, of course.
Over the past few weeks more and more friends and coworkers have been asking what it means to be paleo. Mostly, they want to know what one eats on a paleo diet and they want to know why I’ve remained dedicated to it since making the transition last spring.
With this said, I thought it might be helpful to share answers to these question via the blog since being paleo seems to be a topic of interest.
Just below the pumpkin cookie recipe, which I found in Paleo Magazine, you’ll see more information and resources on the paleo diet along with a fun Q&A list I put together based on my own experience eating with a primal perspective.
And if you never go paleo it will be fine with me. But I do hope you’ll consider, if you don’t already, the importance of eating more fruits, lean meats, vegetables and less processed foods and snacks. So maybe just go paleo-ish. Be inspired!
Paleo Pumpkin Cookies
*The recipe below was adapted from a recipe featured in Paleo Magazine. The original recipe was developed by Sarah Fragoso, a paleo expert and cookbook author. Check out her wonderful site, Everyday Paleo, here.
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons organic honey
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons of organic coconut palm sugar*
- Sea Salt
*Note: The use of alternative sugars such as coconut palm sugar is not considered strictly paleo by some. I am fine with it for occasional use in desserts.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, coconut milk and honey.
- Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
- Finally, add the pumpkin puree to the dough and mix until combined.
- Using an ice cream scoop, drop evenly sized dough balls onto the cookie sheet about an inch apart in neat rows.
- Gently flatten the dough balls into a cookie shape and sprinkle with a dash of organic coconut sugar and sea salt.
- Bake in the oven for 17 to 20 minutes.
- Remove cookies from the oven when they are a light golden brown and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
Now that I have you hooked with the yummy recipe above, you are probably ready to learn about what it means to be paleo. Here you go:
All About Being Paleo
Simply put, the paleo diet is rooted in the idea that modern humans have not evolved as quickly as food innovations and that for optimum health, one should go back to eating real, whole, unprocessed foods that were available during the Paleolithic time period. This means that processed foods that you probably already know are not good for you are not part of a paleo diet. Makes sense, right?
Here’s a general look at what not to eat on the paleo diet.
Photo credit for graphic above to RippednFit.
The Many Shades of Paleo Grey
While some paleo enthusiasts follow the diet very strictly, most people would agree that there are many degrees of being paleo. Yes, there are shades of grey.
Some who call themselves paleo opt to eat only whole, unprocessed foods and avoid grains. Other more strict paleo devotees do the same, but also avoid eating things like dairy, potatoes and even legumes because these foods were introduced into the human diet after the Paleolithic time period.
Again, they omit these foods because it is hypothesized that the human body hasn’t yet adapted to efficiently metabolize and digest foods introduced after the Paleolithic period.
Why People Love this Wacky Diet
Right now you are probably thinking this all sounds a little wacky. I did too. So why are so many people interested in giving the paleo diet a try?
I’m sure it’s because weight loss is one of the most widely acknowledged benefits. Still, other proponents feel that paleo diet related changes have helped to heal or ease symptoms related to everything from leaky gut to thyroid disorders.
Now, I don’t claim that a paleo diet can do any of those things. But I can tell you that I believe my health has improved in terms of energy levels, better digestion, better sleep and I just feel good when I’m eating paleo. I’ve also noticed less redness in my skin, which used to drive me nuts trying to conceal with powder.
The paleo diet is relatively new, so proven research to support or dismiss health benefits is lacking. Want to know what a doctor might say about the paleo diet?
Here’s one article from a physician with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It’s a balanced review for the most part, but as far as I’m concerned the cons listed in the article are minimal and most don’t apply to my situation.
To make what I’ve learned and experienced through the paleo way more fun to read, I’ve created the Q&A below.
Is paleo a diet?
I don’t think so. I see it as a lifestyle and also a framework for making good food choices over the course of the long term. To me, being paleo is about embracing healthy habits such as eating whole, organic, unprocessed foods most of the time AND keeping physically active every day. It’s not about being workout obsessed or fanatical about every bite.
Are you strictly paleo?
I try to eat paleo 5 to 6 days a week, although I do not restrict myself with wine and Prosecco because weekday social occasions do come up. On weekends I indulge in pizza, sushi rolls with rice, cupcakes, gelato and other delicious, non-paleo foods. Of course, I enjoy these foods moderation.
What is one misconception about paleo that bothers you?
I really dislike that it is viewed as a fad diet that cuts out carbs. Prior to making the paleo switch, I was very reluctant to even consider going paleo because I myself thought of it as a fad diet. After taking the time to really research it, I learned that it was very much in line with how I was already eating – a mostly whole foods diet. I actually don’t even like to call it a diet because I plan to eat a healthy, whole foods diet for the rest of my life. And because I feel better when I don’t eat grains and dairy, I plan to continue to eat them very sparingly for the rest of my life.
Is the paleo diet expensive?
I believe that it is more expensive. It would be less so if I could grow my own organic vegetables rather than buying them at Whole Foods and trendy farmer’s markets. Grass-fed beef is also premium, for example. Still, a higher price to support humanely raised animals and sustainably grown vegetable is worth it to me. Every dollar helps create positive change. Even still, with that said, it saddens me that the affordability of healthy foods is beyond reach for many.
Why do you blog about paleo desserts so much?
I have the biggest sweet tooth! Mostly, I like to blog about paleo desserts because since the day I baked my first batch of paleo cookies, I’ve been amazed by how good a dessert can be with better-for-you ingredients. Plus, the challenge is to make something you already know if great even better! It’s just fun.
If I go paleo, will I feel deprived?
If you are already eating a healthy diet free of processed foods, soda and sugar, you probably won’t feel deprived. However, it will take a bit of time for your taste buds to recalibrate. Once this happens, you’ll be amazed by how perfect real food tastes in comparison to synthetic flavors. Want an example? Try the deliciousness of a real orange over the synthetic flavor of a food product made to taste like an orange.
What benefits have you gained from going paleo?
I really just feel better! I don’t weigh myself, but I don’t believe that my weight has changed because I’ve been eating a good diet for a long time. The other benefit is that it has forced me to try new recipes. Feeling better and exploring fun new recipes are two great benefits!
What is your favorite paleo substitution?
I love, love, love the So Delicious brand as a dairy alternative. They have a wonderful coconut milk, a sensational coconut coffee creamer (available in hazelnut) and some yummy coconut milk frozen desserts.
How do you eat paleo on-the go?
It’s not easy. It’s especially difficult at airports. I end of packing my own fruit and drinking black coffee and water at airports. You can make and carry with you your own trail mix snacks containing paleo-approved dried fruits, seeds and nuts. If you buy trail mix, read the label. One of the ingredients is likely going to be cane sugar or syrup and potentailly canola oil, which are not paleo-approved.
If you have a question about the paleo diet that hasn’t been answered above, try checking out this article where you’ll find answers to 267 paleo questions! And if you still want more information, check out this recent article in the New York Times!