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Book Review: Food Matters by Mark Bittman and Yet Another Vegan Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Posted Jan 27 2009 6:23pm
From Jan. 2009 Product Reviews and Recipes

I'm really glad Bittman's been making big changes in his life that have yielded improved health and welfare. His "How to Cook Everything" is the source of more than a few of my favorite recipes. However, I'm not that crazy about his new "Food Matters." On the other hand, the Nutty Oatmeal Cookies recipe in the book is fantastic.

First, if you're a pretty well-informed vegetarian, vegan, or even a (and I'm loathe to use this term) "flexitarian" (ugh, just a terrible word for someone who just isn't a vegetarian, but wants to be defined in some way), you won't find anything you don't already know. Especially when it comes to the beef industry. He barely touches on the poultry or pork industries.

What is interesting is Bittman's story about himself. But I find it to be a mere scratching of the surface. Tell me more, Bitty!

But, what is redeeming about the book is that the recipes, like all his recipes, are fine. They are health-conscious and tasty. For example, the oatmeal cookies I made for this review (in the vegan version he kindly provided) were moist and oaty. They also were rich and toothsome, yet light. The best part was that they made excellent breakfast cookies for my cohorts at the co-op.

From Jan. 2009 Product Reviews and Recipes

I made some pretty big changes to the original recipe, including Chinese 5-Spice Powder instead of cinnamon. Now that I've started using it regularly, I find it difficult to not use it. However, I will restrain myself in future recipes. And, of course, as always, I've used agave nectar instead of the cane sugars.

One last thing -- the title of the cookie is a bit misleading. If it featured multiple nuts or perhaps peanut butter (or even more of the single nut for that matter), it would probably be more fitting. I'd call 'em Better Oatmeal Cookies.

That said, here's the recipe as I made it.

Better Oatmeal Cookies (inspired by Bittman's Nutty Oatmeal Cookies in "Food Matters")

Yields about 4 dozen cookies.


1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (feel free to use a flavored applesauce here)
1/4 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flame raisins (not as sweet as Thompson)


1. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Beat the liquid ingredients together until well combined.
3. Mix together the dry ingredients until well incorporated.
4. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
5. Fold in the walnuts and raisins, mixing just until combined.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
7. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out 16 cookies per sheet, allowing room between the cookies for spreading. They won't spread much, though. Use the scoop to pat down the tops a little.
8. Bake the cookies for 18 minutes, turning the sheets and changing their oven positions halfway through the cycle. The cookies should be light golden brown when you take them out.
9. Let them cool on the sheets for 5-10 minutes before moving them to wire racks to cool completely.
10. Enjoy!

Note: These will keep for several days in an airtight container. Bittman says they only keep for a day or two. In our case, they are still great after several days. In fact, the flavor just keeps deepening.

From Jan. 2009 Product Reviews and Recipes
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