Cooking with Oats

The first meal most people think of when they hear the word “oats” is Oatmeal for breakfast, and with good reason.  A substantial, warming breakfast, loaded with fruit to add sweetness and extra nutrition, is a very healthy start to the day on a cold winter’s morning.

The nutritional benefit comes in particular from the soluble fiber which has been shown to help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, reduce the risk of some cancers and increase the resistance to infections, among other things.  Oats also have substantial mineral content, being particularly high in manganese and selenium.

Oats are roasted after being harvested and cleaned, which helps give them their distinctive flavor. They are then hulled, but this doesn’t remove all the bran and germ, so they keep much of their nutritional value. They are processed by steaming and rolling (rolled oats), slicing thinly (steel-cut oats), partially cooking (instant oats), or grinding (oat flour) to give them the consistency and cooking time required.  Watch out for the additional sugar and salt often added to instant oats which makes for a quicker, but less nutritious breakfast.

In addition to breakfast cereals, oats are often used in cookies and cobblers, and oat flour can be used to make cookies, pies and muffins.  Since the natural fats in oats can go rancid, it is best to buy oats in smaller quantities and store them in the refrigerator if you’re not using them regularly.


  • Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
  • Oatmeal Waffles
  • Cashew Coconut Date Cookies

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Makes 2 1-cup servings

  • 1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup apple juice concentrate
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants (optional)  

Combine the oats, apple juice concentrate, water, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in raisins or currants, if using. Let stand for 3 minutes before serving.

Oatmeal Waffles

Makes 6 waffles

These easily-prepared waffles are a delicious way to add healthful oats to your diet.

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 vegetable oil spray
  • 1 fresh fruit, spreadable fruit, or maple syrup for serving  

Preheat the waffle iron to medium-high. Combine the oats, water, banana, salt, maple syrup and vanilla in a blender. Blend on high speed until completely smooth. The batter should be pourable. If it becomes too thick as it stands, add a bit more water to achieve desired consistency.

Lightly spray waffle iron with vegetable oil. Pour in enough batter to reach edges and cook until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes without lifting lid. Serve with fresh fruit, spreadable fruit, or maple syrup.

The following recipe is from our cookbook The Veg-Feasting Cookbook.

Cashew Coconut Date Cookies

You can use pre-ground cardamom for this recipe or grind your own, which will give it a more intense flavor. Break the pods open and crush the black seeds with a mortar and pestle. Be sure the dates you use for this recipe are fresh and moist. Organic medjool dates are particularly nice.

Makes about 40 cookies

  • 1½ cups quick or old-fashioned oats, ground fine in a food processor, or oat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup natural unsalted cashew butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup natural granulated sugar (like Sucanat)
  • 2/3 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened grated coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped pitted dates
  • Approximately 40 cashew halves (optional)

Heat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl whisk together the ground oats, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cardamom; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the cashew butter with the water in a large bowl until smooth. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add the sugar and margarine and beat until completely incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until completely blended. Stir in the coconut and dates.

Drop the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets. Press each dough ball gently with your fingers, and nestle one cashew half, if using, into each dough ball. Bake until the tops are lightly browned but the cookies are still slightly soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.