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In the last few weeks, I’ve been working to eat less sugar. Yes, I’m telling you I’m eating less sugar while presenting you with a cookie recipe. Hear me out!

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…
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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.

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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….

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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.

 

  1. I can totally relate to your sugar addiction. I am fighting mine as well. I noticed it had become really bad when I needed several pieces of chocolate plus gummy bears every evening . Plus, when it comes to cookies, muffins or cake I’m out of control. It makes no sense because the rest of the time I eat really healthy.

    Good tips? Will power….and a piece of dark chocolate now and then.
    …and after only one week without excessive sugar consumption I dropped about one pant size.

  2. I can totally relate to your situation!! I’m such a sugar addict (in form of cookies and sweets) but I know that I’m unable to cut it out completely!! I’d go crazy!!! ;)
    Tjese cookies look absolutely delicious btw. :)
    xo Andrea

  3. KATE

    Clara, to combat that need for something sweet after a meal – chew sugar free gum – may not be the greatest look – but it gives me the sweet hit I need.
    Take care, Kate

  4. I never realized how much sugar I was eating until I did the Whole 30 and cut out all forms of sweeteners (Including honey, maple syrup, etc). Going without the taste of sweetness for a month really put my taste buds back in check, and now I do eat sugar again, but I find that the tiniest amount satisfies. We’ve also cut out daily desserts and lost pounds. Now I just pin recipes like this to look at and dream of. When there’s a special occasion I’ll bake, but otherwise–no sugar for me! No more spikes and crashes either–that’s the best part!

  5. Um, YES YES YES to these! I’m honestly not a big sugar person (but before you hate me, know that I’m a carb and cheese addict), so when I do have sweets, it’s really a treat. These look and sound amazing!

    • Clara

      Ha… no hate here! I love carbs and cheese, too :)

  6. What flavors! This looks amazing and I love the pictures… reminds me of a yummy fall day! Thanks for sharing.

  7. linda delaney

    I so get this sugar thing. I always have to end both my lunch and dinner w/ something sweet. At lunch it’s a small piece of fruit but dinner is where things can get crazy and it doesn’t help that my husband has a larger sweet tooth than I. My trainer told me to never eat anthing w/ more than 9 grams of sugar in it per serving and no high fructose corn syrup. I constantly read labels. It’s really hard to find decent yogurt that is not loaded w/ sugar. Also, stay away from artificial sweetners if possible. And yes, the coffee will taste “different” w/o the sugar in it but you will get used to this. After a while, most beverages will taste too sweet. Even my favorite margaritas need extra lime juice and less sugar now. But I’m like you. If its really worth eating, like a cookie that you made from scratch or a great piece of cake from your favorite bakery, I say go for it. We always split desserts to half the calories and sugar content but we don’t deprive ourselves. If we do, then we will just overdose at some point in time. Also, your body will tell you when enough is enough. I can certainly feel it in my energy level and know when I need to cut back. But to eliminate it out of my diet all together?! No, I’m not going to fool myself. It’s not going to happen!

  8. I’m TOTALLY the same way! I often crave something sweet after pretty much every meal. Not keeping sugary stuff in the apartment is really the only way to stop myself. I also try to abide by the rule of only eating it when it’s REALLY worth it, like something amazing from a great restaurant-and that way I figure I won’t feel guilty, because the rest of the time I’m not eating a lot of sugary stuff. Still working on it, every day! For a long time I was eating homemade granola with yogurt and raisins as “dessert”-it still has some sugar in it (maple syrup, brown sugar), but I figured at least it was homemade and obviously better than ice cream or something. Over the summer was a little easier because I could eat berries for dessert, but it gets a little harder now that berry season is over. Plus I made biscotti yesterday. Still a work in progress :)

  9. Love your openness in this post. We all slip into old habits sometimes. It’s how we bounce back in long term balance that counts.

    • Clara

      Thanks my dear! xx

  10. I am struggling with this right now! I love sugar but it is not my friend. I find that a lot of nice soups are very satisfying and filling and if I am really craving something sweet after my meal, an herbal tea helps a lot too. Another trick is to make sure you aren’t in situations where you are starving because it is so easy to reach for a cookie.

    • Clara

      Yes- so true on the starving piece! I found when I was paying more attention, the times I reached for sugar were actually the times I was legitimately hungry.

  11. I used to really really struggle with sugar, but after indulging while baking (usually in the form of lots of raw cookie dough, or too many baked goods) I think my brain finally got the association with how bad I feel and eating sugar and the fact that they are directly related.

    I will say, however, that I do have something sweet every single day. It’s usually not something big or super indulgent (maybe a little bit of dark chocolate with tea after dinner or a little Greek yogurt with honey, or a small cookie) but knowing that I am going to have something at the end of my day makes it easier to stay on track the rest of the day. If I’m tempted to eat something unhealthy or indulgent during the day, I just remind myself that I have a treat waiting for me at the end of the day. It’s so much easier to say no to other bites and treats that way!

    • Clara

      Hi Madison! Man I hear you on that cookie dough. I like you approach of one sweet thing a day, I’m thinking I might adapt to that over time. I definitely can’t cut sugar completely- but I wouldn’t want to! There are too many amazing restaurants and bakeries with amazing dessert, and of course my love of baking needs to be fed!

  12. oh gosh, i totally looove sweets – and like you, i cannot stop once i start! i’m working on cutting it out right now, and it is difficult. but you are right, it makes you feel so much better! stay strong!!

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