22 January 2009

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

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


Ricki said...

Just heard about his book yesterday and was interested to learn more about it. Thanks!

Deb Schiff said...

Glad I could be of service! :)

Sandy said...

These look great!!! I may have to give it a try.

Nice blog.

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Sandy! You'll definitely enjoy them. Thanks for stopping by!

ThirstyApe said...

I think flexitarian is a very useful word and a great term for how so many people actually eat. Some like to say that a flexitarian is just an omnivore because a flexitarian eats "everything". While a flexitarian does eat everything they are consciously trying to move toward a mostly vegetarian diet. An omnivore eats everything and without regard. Basically eating what is available and easiest at any given time. A true flexitarian strives to eat mostly vegetables and eat meat only on special occasions or special circumstances (dinner party at a meat-eating friends house, holidays, etc.). A great resource on flexitarian eating is the book The Flexitarian Diet by Registered Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner. I have found it to be a great companion to the Bittman book and quite a bit better at helping people move toward a mostly vegetarian diet. The Flexitarian Diet has recieved a great deal of press, just Google it, and the author is a leading authority on the topic. I have learned a great deal from her after checking out her website after reading her book. http://www.dawnjacksonblatner.com . I have also downloaded a ton of great recipes from her website for free.

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks for your comment TA.

Alisa said...

Chinese 5 spice powder; what a wonderfully unique addition! I love it.

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Alisa. It made all the difference.

Esi said...

I love that this vegan recipe has things I actually have around the house (with the exception of almond milk). Sounds great!

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Esi. Me too. Bittman's recipes are good for that. Thanks for stopping by!