Sugar, Sleep and Vegan Shortbread Cookies.
I was born with an unending sweet tooth. I would eat row after row of Oreo’s, Mint Milano’s and Chips Ahoy. This makes my parents look like they stocked their kids with nothing but sugary garbage, but sadly that is not true. I would have to leave our house and venture to my friends’ houses to fill my sugary habit. My sweet tooth has followed me all the way into adulthood like a loyal dog, never leaving my side. However, I am sad and happy to say that I have gone without my dessert since summer. One would think that would be a liberating thing to write, and in some ways it is, but it’s also sad. I loved having sugar everyday, the taste of it, the smell, and most importantly the concept. Dessert is always a happy time, something to look forward to. It’s not like the chore of eating your vegetables or trying your grandmother’s corned beef and cabbage. So, it’s with a heavy heart that I have let one of my true loves in life go.
My main reason for giving it up is the direct correlation between my sleep, or lack thereof, and consuming sugar. A couple of years ago I stumbled into the pattern of waking up in the wee hours of the night with my eyes wide open and a mind that couldn’t stop going. I started to call it my witching hour. No matter how tired I was, at least an hour or two would pass before I fell back into a peaceful slumber. To combat this pattern, I tried everything: ambien, melatonin, various homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, no caffeine, earplugs, staying up late, going to bed early, the list is endless. My coveted dessert was the furthest thing from my mind to go without.
My demise came when I was traveling in Norway last year. I have to be motivated and resourceful to find dairy free desserts abroad (I have a severe intolerance for dairy – not the mildly upset tummy kind, but the kind that leaves me ruined for several days). I took the first two days in Trondheim to visit all of the grocery stores and mentally document what was offered where, and more importantly what and where had the best sugary sensation. The climbing area was a three hour drive from Trondheim and the good grocery stores. I would stock up on a weeks worth of provisions at a time. I’m not good at pacing myself, especially when it comes to sweets. If they are sitting in front of me, why not eat them? There’s no time like the present! Plus, if two cookies were good, then five or six are great! Inevitably, my dairy free desserts would be gone by day three, and I’d be left without dessert for the next four days. Along with sugar withdrawals, I started noticing a direct correlation to how well I slept before and after polishing off my sugary desserts. Unfortunately, the difference was big enough to really make an impact. Big enough to actually avoid buying my coveted Norwegian dairy free cookies the entire last week of my trip. For anyone who knows me, you’ll know how huge that is. And, sadly, it was true, I slept better that week that I had all trip.
It was a very heavy hearted realization. Even worse than when I finally realized I could no longer have dairy six years ago. My favorite part of dairy was ice cream and baked goods, both of which can easily be substituted with non-dairy items to make yummy goodness. And on top of that, I love to bake, absolutely love it. I love taking things that by themselves wouldn’t be on anyone’s list to eat, but together make something so delicious, most people can’t put down. Plus, I get to give people treats and presents, it’s like Christmas every time I open the oven.
I have an event at the local climbing gym this week, a perfect excuse to bake! My plan is to lure people in with some delicious sugary treats. I’m undecided what I’ll make, one option is my friend Becky’s butter cookies. Becky is not a baker, but on rare occasion she does bake, she normally produces something scrumptious. These are her great grandmother’s butter cookies, which can easily be made vegan. Simple, yet delicious. I’ll restrain myself from eating half the batch, but I can’t promise a cookie or two will be missing. I hope you enjoy!!!
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
1 cup softened butter (or Earth Balance)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups flour
Mix butter with sugar until light and fluffy, and flour and mix well, use hands if necessary. Form into about 1″ balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Becky’s grandpa says these cookies are best when about 1 – 2 weeks old 🙂