I tried something completely different this week and was very pleased with the results: I made cookies.
I can’t remember the last time I either cooked or ate a cookie, but these things are amazing. In fact, I can’t stop eating them. A batch takes less than a half-hour from start to finish (and that’s with the cooking time) and requires just two ingredients.
The recipe is very simple. Take something with a flesh that is sweet and wet, like a banana. Peel it and mush it up as much as you like (make it smooth or lumpy-dealer’s choice). Check and see how much of it there is (a single banana or apple is likely to be about a half a cup) and add that same amount of oats. Mix well, put dollops of it on a greased cookie sheet (or one lined with parchment paper), and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes.
I’ve looked at a bunch of versions of this (just Google “two-ingredient oatmeal cookie” and you’ll find tons of variations), but the important instructions are always the same. You might want to tinker with the proportions just a little bit to find a consistency that you like (if it seems too thin, add more oats; if it’s too dry, add more wet stuff). The fun part comes, though, in all the ways you can tinker with the basic formula.
If you use bananas, keep in mind that the riper they are, the sweeter the cookie will be (this would be a great way to use bananas that are past their prime), but also consider some possibilities beyond the banana. Not only can you play around with what the wet ingredient might be (maybe something like peach, apple or pumpkin) but also with expanding beyond two ingredients. Mix vanilla into the batter, or spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves; or after blending, add small bursts of flavor by stirring in things like raisins, chia seeds, nuts, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds or coconut. Nut butters could be added to the batter or smeared on top after the cookies are done (I tried this one day at lunchtime, putting almond butter on a warm cookie, and it was awesome).
I made several batches this week, using what I had on hand, which were apples, bananas and rolled oats (as opposed to quick oats), and tried a couple of different supplemental ingredients. The results were all yummy, filling and nutritious. Depending on the ingredients you choose, they could potentially be free of refined sugar, dairy, gluten and nuts (and, of course, they can be vegetarian/vegan).
These cookies could make a great travel snack to pack for cars, trains or planes (they’re not sticky and don’t produce a lot of crumbs) and could also be handy for a quick breakfast on the go. If you’re trying to get your kids to eat more fiber and/or less refined sugar, this is a great option. Even if you don’t have any kids around, make yourself a batch and give yourself permission to indulge without guilt. Let me repeat that: Have as many as you want-because even if you were to eat an entire batch, that would amount to one single piece of fruit and a half a cup of oats.
My batches came out to about six cookies per piece of fruit, but this could vary widely depending on what size you make. Also, every recipe I found said to cook for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, but I tried them alternately in my toaster oven and the regular oven-and in both cases, that was not nearly enough time (the cookies were still gushy in the middle). Maybe mine were too big, but I found that the bottoms of the cookies started to brown after about 20 minutes.
The versions I made were plain banana oat, banana oat with raisins, apple oat and apple oat with loosely chopped cashews. For each batch, I put the apple or banana into a measuring cup and used a stick blender to puree it. Next, I added the oats and blended lightly once more to break them up a bit (if you’re using quick oats, you can probably skip this). Then, I added the raisins or cashews and spooned the cookies onto a sheet for baking. I put the ones that didn’t get gobbled up while still warm into the refrigerator once they were cool, and they were still great the next day. I’m not sure how long they’d last there, but I think I’d freeze them if keeping for more than a few days.
Give it a try! Experiment, use your imagination, have some fun playtime in the kitchen, and let me know how it goes-especially if you have a wacky idea that works!
Alice O’Dea has lived in Chattanooga for over 20 years, but was raised among the mucks and dairy farms in rural western New York. She didn’t really learn to cook until midlife. When she’s not puttering around in the kitchen, she enjoys running, cycling, traveling, photography and trying to get food to grow in the backyard of her Highland Park home. You can email her with questions, suggestions or comments at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.