The banana of my eye: vegan banana oatmeal cookies

The banana oatmeal cookies are deliciously vegan. (Lauren Kim for The Phoenix)

Fruits add such a nice touch to basically everything. Whether they comprise a colorful centerpiece on a table, decorations on a mardi gras hat or a sweet way to end a meal, fruits come in handy in so many ways.

Speaking of which, I am personally biased in favor of fruit-related desserts. Fruit-based tarts, muffins, cakes and especially ice cream. Sharples used to serve banana ice cream once upon a time. Trust me, that was about a year and a half ago, and I still hang around the ice cream bar like a hawk to this day in the hopes of coming across it again. Oh, for the joy of eating banana ice cream again…

When I lived in Kyle last year (the eight-person women-only dorm near the Lang Center), my
blockmates and I would very often bring back fruit for the house. Living there was so convenient: we had a very nice kitchen space, which we used very often to make food when we got too lazy to go to Sharples.

I personally used the kitchen a lot for my baking exploits. And it was there that my idea for today’s recipe was born. As you can probably tell by now, bananas are my favorite fruit. I would bring back two or even three of them at a time if I was feeling ambitious, and then keep them in the house’s fruit basket. In my over-zealous love for bananas I would usually end up bringing more than necessary, resulting in my watching the poor things rot away.

Lauren’s recipe.

And this is where my fabulous idea comes in. I knew how to make oatmeal cookies, using peanut butter as the sticky base. Why couldn’t I use banana, instead, as the ‘glue’ to hold the ingredients together? And thus began my experiment: instead of peanuts I used walnuts, banana’s best friend; to add some “kick” to this recipe, I also incorporated some spices I was especially partial to. And voila, I had created my first set of these scrumptious treats.

The best part about these babies is that they are so easy to make, and yet just as sweet and delicious as any other cookie out there. Plus, they are gluten-free and do not require extra butter or sugar, which further expands their potential target audience. For banana lovers, these cookies are just perfect. For banana avoiders, please just take one little nibble: there’s so much more texture and flavor to a banana after it’s been incorporated with nuts, oats and spices, and then warmed up to perfection in the oven.

So I made these cookies often last year, perhaps a few more times than I should have. But by the end of the year, at least to most of my fellow Kyle residents, they had become my ‘signature dish.’ These definitely are my go-to food. When I got better and faster at making them, I would even whip up an extra-quick batch in the morning to eat for breakfast. Altogether, the whole process would take me between 30 to 35 minutes.

I’d say that baking is an art because one can get really creative with the ingredients, but I also agree with the majority who classify the process as more of a science. It is true that baking has a more rigid structure, since there is an optimal ratio, or balance of dry ingredients against wet ingredients that determines texture, flavor and color. But, as with the arts and sciences, baking is something you get better at with time and experience.

Yet with these banana cookies, it didn’t take me too long to reach that point. They are so simple and perfect for the beginner. Wash them down with a glass of milk (chocolate milk is even better) or coffee and start your day off with a big smile.

Just one word of caution: don’t go overboard with the bananas like I did my first time. That is, unless you want your cookies to mold into each other to form a pancake. (But that wouldn’t be such a bad idea, actually.)

Lauren is a junior. Please submit any recipes you would like to share with Lauren for her to try out for her next column by e-mailing her at lkim1@swarthore.edu.

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