During my first year of doing Nia I lost 70 pounds. I’ve now lost a total of 120 
pounds, both through movement, and by applying one of Nia’s greatest lessons: 

Cookies.

(I’m as serious as Aunt Hattie’s girdle.) 

Apparently, there are some people who can manage their diet through sheer 
Spartan willpower. I am not among them. I’m not sure that I’ve even met one.

One of my students is famous for losing 50 pounds her first year of Nia by stopping 
for a donut before almost every class. We call it “The Paula Diet.” That’s a plan I can get behind 100%.

Starvation is for suckers.

The Pleasure Principle tells us, “If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.” Nia teaches us 
to "live in Sensation," and good food can be one of our most intense and satisfying sensual experiences. I know from personal experience that when pleasure, sensation, and joy are not present at the table, that’s when I go berserk and eat everything in the house, right down to the last can of Who-Hash. 

Research has shown that thinking “instead” rather than “NO” is the most effective way to work with temptations and choices when we eat. Eating celery sticks and drinking seltzer water while everybody else is having fun? Forget it. A couple of awesome and yummy cookies, or a big slab of cake? Now you’ve got my attention.

We are wired for pleasure. A small reward keys our pleasure centers just as well as a large one in most cases, while even the smallest deprivation can send us into a tailspin of craving that grows the longer we fight it. Let’s work with The Body’s Way! 

A cosmo instead of eggnog? Hot cider instead of hot cocoa? Salsa on your chips instead of cheese and sour cream? A super premium piece of dark chocolate instead of a big cheapo candy bar? This doesn’t feel like I'm suffering much.

Choose: sensation, joy, awareness, stimulation and self-Healing. I don’t see deprivation or misery on that list anywhere. The holidays are a rich panorama for Sensation Scientists.

Smell, in particular, hooks into our emotional center without any mediation from the conscious mind. The aromas of baking food, evergreens, and winter weather overwhelm us with nostalgia. Debbie encourages us to “smell the moment,” and these holiday moments, for good or ill, smell like childhood.

Let’s start with, Food of the Gods: "theobroma cacao." This is life as art, baby, and we ain’t screwin’ around:

Camille’s Extreme Chocolate Cookies

These were originally created as a bribe for the wonderful nursing staff who work with my daughter at Providence Child Center here in Portland. They are adapted (or perhaps “mutated”?) from a recipe on Joy the Baker’s blog.

2 sticks Unsalted Butter (Vegan options - Margarine or 1 cup Coconut Oil)

2 cups All Purpose Flour (You can substitute Gluten Free Baking Mix)

1 tsp. Kosher Salt

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 cup Cocoa Powder

2 Tb Ground Cinnamon (yes, you read that right)

12 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil (optional, but highly recommended)

1/4 tsp. Ground Cayenne Pepper (more if you're adventurous)

1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar 

(any kind is fine, but Raw 'Turbinado" Sugar will give them a nice crunch)

1/4 cup Molasses, the darker the better

2 Eggs 

(Vegans can substitute Flax Eggs: 1 “egg” = 3 Tb water +1 Tb flax meal)

2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 cups Dark Chocolate Chips or Chunks

Sea Salt for sprinkling on top of cookies

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.


Melt the Butter over low heat and stir in the Spices so that they can “bloom”. Set 
aside to cool. Sift together Flour, Salt, and Baking Soda and set aside.

Mix the Sugar, Molasses and Vanilla until there are no large lumps. This is to 
commercial Brown Sugar as a Live Orchestra is to an AM Radio.

Pour the melted Butter into a mixing bowl. Add the Brown Sugar. Cream the Butter 
and Sugar with a mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add the Eggs and 
mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the Flour Mixture. Stir in the Chocolate 
Chips.

Chill the dough for at least 20 minutes, then scoop onto greased or parchment lined 
baking sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the top of the cookie looks just barely "dry". I like 
the insides to be a little gooey; YMMV.

When the cookies come out of the oven, immediately sprinkle them with a little Sea 
Salt. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Merry Christmas, Chag Sameach, Joyous Kwaanza, Gut Yul, Good Solstice, Happy Mithrasmas . . . whatever you celebrate, we celebrate You!

For more recipes visit my blog Play with your Food.