…and 39 Other Reasons Why 40 is Phenomenal
[vegan, gluten-free option available]
With the big 40 approaching, I had come across many (supposedly humorous) fashion and beauty magazine articles listing reasons for knowing that you’re 40+ years old. I don’t know how this has been the case, as I don’t even read magazines like that. In any case, today is my 40th birthday, and I happen to disagree with the articles – that 40 should somehow be terrifying. In fact, this past year has been one of thriving for me. As a vegan baker, I’ve learned to experiment and use my imagination to the extent that’s surprised myself. My latest work of art is this definitely delightful cookie dough pie, which is the birthday present I created and whipped up for myself. The enjoyment of vegan baking is definitely one of the reasons why turning 40 is actually phenomenal.
40 (Sweet) Things at 40
1. Vegan baking, including the definitely delightful cookie dough pie recipe. I know, it does feel like a bit of stretch to put this at the top of the list. But it’s such a sweet reason, and one for your being here.
The definitely delightful cookie dough pie is a recipe I created from three of my favorite sweet things: edible cookie dough, Lotus Biscoff cookies, and dark chocolate. There’s very little baking involved, as you’ll only need to toast your flour and bake the pie crust for a few minutes. Your freezer will take care of the rest.
The crust made from Lotus Biscoff cookies and melted vegan butter is a cheesecake-style crust. The cookie dough filling is made combining a batch of my Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with 1/2 cup of whippable, heavy vegan cream. Oatly makes a great one that always works, but I’m not sure if it’s available around the world or just in the Nordic countries. Oh, and it’s a good idea to leave fold in the chocolate chips only after beating the cookie dough/cream filling fluffy, as it’ll make the beating much easier and you won’t destroy your electric mixer or chocolate chips. Finally, you’ll make the chocolate ganache to spread over the cookie dough layer. I also topped my pie with some sea salt flakes.
2. Being kind to oneself. Allowing myself to eat foods and delicacies that used to be off-limits are included here. I’ve learned not to care so much about what other people think. I’m definitely much less critical of myself at 40.
3. Being true to oneself. I stand strong in my beliefs and principles, including veganism and healthy living.
4. Balance. With everything, including family life, food, work, free time, fun times.
5. Children. This is related to the previous one. Now that I’m turning 40, my kids are also growing, learning new things, and we’re having so much fun together. Really enjoying this time, seeing them starting to come to their own.
6. Still going strong. This is where 40 is actually the perfect age. I don’t get tired easily, even with less sleep than in my 20s.
7. Working out. I have energy for this, too, even to the extent that I might say that I’ve never been in a better shape than I am today. When it comes to working out and taking care of my body, age is just a number. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to vary your training methods and remember the importance of stretching to avoid injuries. Since April, I’ve been working out with the amazing Jeanette Jenkins and let me tell you: it has paid off!
8. Setting goals. Not just in terms of working out or being healthy but in every aspect of my life. I try to do things that make sense (unlike in my early 20s when I went and did a lot of things that might have led to a whole lot of nothing…).
9. Self-confidence. This is a big one. I guess I’ve always had confident, but I’m finally confident enough to say it out loud (and write it here).
10. Courage. As I already mentioned, I’ve stopped being bothered by others’ perceptions of me. I need to thank my loving husband for teaching this to me. Following his example, I’ve mustered up a lot of courage to follow my dreams and ambitions.
11. Taking leaps of faith. This blog is an example of trying something new, without any formal education or professional background as a vegan baker. But I know that if you don’t start something new, you won’t achieve anything apart from the same-old.
12. Being crazy. With a few diagnoses under my belt, I’ve come to a point in my life where I know that I might be a little crazy. But so what?
13. There’s still time. 40 is not old by any means. There’s till plenty of time to study, try, start, and learn new things. Actually, I’m a strong believer in it never being too late.
14. Loving oneself. I don’t know why this isn’t higher up on the list, but in any case, I’ve finally learned to love myself. For many many years, this wasn’t the case. But at 40, I recognize the there’s only one me in this world, and I need to cherish and make the most out of that. I love me!
15. No negative self-talk. This I’ve borrowed from Jeanette. I guess deep inside, I’ve always understood that negativity will only breed negativity, but actually living by this rule is a game changer.
16. Carpe diem. Planning is my Achilles heel. I’ve got my moments with it, as I get things done and well, too, but sometimes it wouldn’t hurt to just let go and live in the moment.
17. Yoga. A dear hobby that’s become only dearer. This is a part of learning to seize the day and the moment, to stop.
18. Throwing out the make-up. I’ve put less make-up on my face this year than I used to in a week. Seriously! I should count the minutes, hours, days, and weeks that I’ve saved for something much more important as a result. I’m beautiful as I am, without having to hide behind a thick layer of creams and powders.
19. Daydreaming. This isn’t going anywhere with age, except maybe getting a bit more concrete and realistic.
20. Having Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cubes for breakfast and definitely delightful cookie dough pie for dinner!
21. Trusting one’s skills. Although my intelligence might not be what it once was, I trust my knowledge and skills and feel proud of what I do professionally and creatively.
22. Love. I don’t know how it’s even possible, but I love more by the year. I love my family, life, good music, sunshine. In these hard times that we’re all going through, I’ve had an epiphany or two of what really matters in life.
23. Standing my ground. I’ve always steered clear from conflicts and said “yes” to whole lot of questions demanding a negative answer. But now, I can say “no”, disagree, and express my true opinion.
24. Life well-lived (so far). Having a lot of amazing life experiences is such a great thing. I’ve been fortunate enough to do a lot of once-in-a-lifetime things, and for that, I’m grateful.
25. Place that matter. In my mind, I often go back to places that have shaped me or my life in one way or another. Especially when I’m listening to music, I go through reels of places from my past. There’s the grassy front garden of my childhood home, Westwood High School cafeteria in Mesa, Arizona, the narrow bridge leading to the Alnö island close to Sundsvall in Sweden, or the delivery room at the Vaasa Central Hospital.
26. Hermit-like behavior. Being able to be true to myself is such a relief. I get along with almost anyone, but I also love being alone. Getting older has allowed for me to choose where to spend time and with whom. And I no longer feel pressure to explain to anyone why I prefer to stay at home or be alone.
27. All is well. I might be crazy but I’m not a megalomaniac. I left that in the 2000s. That’s when I thought that I’d turn into some hotshot lawyer or businesswoman. The way I look at it now is that life in small-town Finland is not too shabby.
28. Music. I’ve loved music as long as I can remember. I sing even though my voice isn’t particularly beautiful. I often think about the huge (physical and/or virtual) library of great songs that I can pull from. There’s a song for every occasion. Right now it’s Carly Pearce’s “Dashboard Jesus” for some curious reason.
29. Dancing. I love dancing with my daughters. It’s one of our absolute favorite pastimes. We’ll push the chairs and couches out of the way and dance to Taylor Swift, Pink, Sia, or Destiny’s Child.
30. 40 = 30 + 10.
31. I’m taking a creative break now and going for some more of the fluffy cookie dough pie. I’m one of those people that sweet treats never make feel sick. It must be a physical thing. When my sister was throwing up from all the candy and chocolate at Christmas, I kept eating.
32. Gaining muscle. I refuse to subscribe to what beauty magazines claim about turning forty. Yes, the skin on my stomach is stretched from carrying two children in my womb and I have stretch marks here and there, but gravity hasn’t been (and it doesn’t have to be) that unkind to me. You don’t have to be some sort of a wonder woman to put those muscles to work and make them grow (at 40 or not)!
33. Six pack. Age doesn’t matter here. When you work hard and eat a lot of good, plant-based food, you’ll look and feel your best.
34. Being at peace. A lot of what I’ve already mentioned boils down to this. I’m happy with my life here and now. I have two wonderful daughters, husband, my parents, and my sister and her family that all mean the world to me.
35. Accepting my weaknesses. This has been a tough nut to crack, as I tend to think that I need to excel at everything. It annoys me so much to hear people talk about things that annoy them about me, like my excessive planning or meticulousness. At least I’m slowly learning to come to terms with my weaknesses.
36. Learning to lose. This is something my kids have taught me. They can beat me at sports and games. Third place isn’t too bad.
37. Forgiveness. I’ve let go of a lot of my former absoluteness and become nicer to not only myself but also others. People make mistakes, but that doesn’t make them bad. I can let go of my anger, resentment, and disappointment, and forgive them.
38. I’m the same age as Venus Williams, Christina Aguilera, Macaulay Culkin, and Jessica Simpson. I’d say I’m in good company.
39. I’ve also celebrated ten years as a vegetarian and two as a vegan this year.
40. Today, The Cookie Dough Vegan Instagram celebrates, too. I started the account on my birthday exactly a year ago. And the blog isn’t much older, either.
Happy at 40
Since 40 is obviously and undeniably phenomenal, I can’t be but happy on this day. I’ll celebrate with one more slice of the definitely delightful cookie dough pie (before my husband comes home and eats the rest).
Peace and love to you all,
Susanna the Cookie Dough Vegan <3
Cookie Dough Pie
- Stand mixer
- 180 g Lotus Biscoff cookies as crumbs
- 75 g vegan butter
Cookie Dough Filling
- 1 batch Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- ½ cup whippable vegan cream or chilled coconut cream
- 1 ½ cup dark chocolate chips or chocolate
- 2 tbsp unsweetened almond drink
- plus any optional toppings
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly spray a 9-inch/24-cm pie pan with non-stick baking spray. Place the Lotus Biscoff cookies in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them or pulse them in a food processor until finely ground.
- Melt the vegan butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add the cookie crumbs and mix well to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie pan and press it on the bottom and up the sides an even. Bake on the bottom rack for 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
Cookie Dough Filling
- Prepare a batch of my edible chocolate chip cookie dough, but leave out the chocolate chips, if possible.
- Add the whippable vegan cream or chilled coconut cream (needs to be kept in the refrigerator at least overnight). Using an electric stand mixer, beat the cookie dough and cream until fluffy. Now fold in the dark chocolate chips. Spread the filling onto the cooled pie crust and transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes to set.
- Add the dark chocolate chips to a small saucepan. Over low heat, melt the chocolate, stirring often to prevent it from scorching. When the chocolate is fully melted, remove from heat and stir in almond drink. The almond drink will thicken the chocolate to create a ganache spread. Spread the chocolate mixture over the cookie dough layer evenly with a spatula. Work quickly before the mixture starts to set. Decorate with optional toppings: freeze-dried berries, salt flakes, sprinkles, coconut flakes, crushed nuts, or more chocolate chips. Transfer the pan to the freezer for 20–30 more minutes to set.
- Your cookie dough pie is now ready to be enjoyed! It stores well in the refrigerator, up to two weeks.