I’ve kind of always known that my affinity for sugar was a little too strong- bordering on addictive. I have very little self control when it comes to sweets. We don’t keep a ton in the house but when I bake, we gobble them up pretty quickly. And even on a day to day basis, I was consuming more sugar than I needed to- a heaping spoonful in my coffee, a cookie more often than not in the afternoon (or another sugary caffeinated beverage), and something sweet after dinner. I’m definitely the person that eats a meal and immediately needs something sweet to follow. I never saw it as a problem worth tackling until…
a few weeks back when I reached out to a friend about her workouts and eats (after creepily stalking her gym pics on instagram), and she mentioned sugar. She’d cut out added sugar almost entirely, only having a treat here and there when it was really worth it. And since making that change, she felt amazing- less bloated, more energized, and so on. Hmmm all the things I wanted! Part of me was like “Noooo! My sugar!” But really, it was the reality check I needed to finally make a concerted effort to eat less sweets.
So about four weeks back I got up one day and put no sugar in my coffee. I didn’t love it, but it wasn’t impossible. That same day I went a little cold turkey on dessert. I was only going to have it if it was really worth it, so that meant no dessert in the afternoon or after dinner. “Worth it” for me meant a really good restaurant or bakery, or a baked good I had made. I’m not going to lie- this was hard. The first week was exceptionally hard. I literally had cake on the brain. I utilized natural peanut butter and a little honey to curb cravings, and kept a ton of apples in the fridge. The second week got easier, and by the third I’d actually lost some weight and was sleeping amazingly well, so I was feeling really motivated. Even during those three weeks I’d had two instances of “worth it” moments, a blueberry tart shared with Brandon at one of my favorite restaurants in Brooklyn, and a slice of killer homemade apple pie at a dinner party.
Then last week, I got a little too confident. I wanted to make a crostata for the blog to ring in apple season. I really love to bake and decided I was not going to drive myself crazy with the no sugar thing and completely give up baking- I wanted to achieve balance. But then I also needed to make dessert for a girl’s night, so along came these amazing cookies. Truth be told, I would probably have been fine with just the crostata. But the cookies are where I lost control and ended up eating 10+ in the span of two days. I woke up on Friday and felt like garbage.
I’m back on the wagon now after experiencing how tired and yucky all that sugar made me feel. I’m sure I’ll slip again but I feel like I’ve seen the good enough to know that no matter how badly I want those stinking mango gummies tantalizing me in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s, are not worth the feeling of eating the whole bag. And I will eat the whole bag.
I’m so curious, do any of you guys struggle with sugar addictions? Have any good tips or substitutes for keeping cravings at bay? The good sleep and increased energy, alone, are one of my biggest motivators. And knowing that when I have sweets, like these amazing cookies, I’ll enjoy it about a million times more. Just need to work on that portion control….
Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Glaze adapted from Chow
Makes about 32 cookies
For the cookies:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pie filling; about 1 3/4 cups)
For the glaze:
- 4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 3-4 tablespoons of milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- seeds scraped from 1/4 of a vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Whisk the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside.
Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the egg and vanilla, return the mixer to medium speed, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer on low speed, add half of the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add half of the pumpkin and mix until just incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and pumpkin. Place dough in fridge to chill for at least two hours or overnight. NOTE: This is a very wet dough, therefore it’s absolutely necessary to chill it before forming the dough into cookies.
Once chilled, drop 8 dough rounds per baking sheet , staggering them 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets.Place the remaining dough in the refrigerator. Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 12. minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back and continue baking until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and around the edges, about 8-10 more minutes.
Place the baking sheets on wire racks and let the cookies cool on the sheets for 3 minutes. Using a flat spatula, transfer the cookies to the wire racks to cool completely. Repeat process to bake remaining dough.
For the glaze: Beat together all ingredients until well combined. Fill a piping bag or Ziploc bag with frosting. Use a very small tip or, if using the Ziploc, snip a very small tip at the corner of the bag. Plate the cookies and squirt the frosting across the cookies, moving back and forth in a zig zag direction several times. Let cookies rest so frosting can harden if not serving immediately. Cookies can be stored up to one week in an air tight container.