OATrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester is a vegan cookbook that offers a comprehensive look at the way oatmeal can fit into any meal or snack any time. The intro makes a good case for adding oats: lowering cholesterol, controlling blood pressure, maintaining blood glucose level and filling up economically. And Hester quickly sets straight any reader who’s ever been confused about oat groats vs. Scottish oats vs. steel-cut.
OATrageous Oatmeals is divided into nine chapters:
• DIY staples
• Warming oats for fall and winter
• Cooling breakfast oats for spring and summer
• Granolas and bars
• Soups and stews
• Savory oats dishes
• Other uses for oats beyond human consumption
The DIY staples chapter includes recipes for cashew-oat cream cheese, vegan pepperoni crumbles and easy oat milk yogurt. I was excited to try making the yogurt, but quickly realized that Hester has a different idea about what constitutes easy. I’m definitely a lazy cook, so maybe others would not be daunted. But looking over the steps of soaking, blending, straining back and forth through a fine mesh strainer, using a Dutch oven, heating to 180 degrees, then cooling it back down to 115 degrees – well by the time I got that far in the recipe I figured I’d just go buy a tub at the store.
Easy Peasy Recipes
Other recipes were truly easy. The chocolate hazelnut granola made with coconut oil turned out to be delicious. It came out perfectly and disappeared in about two days. The breakfast chapters contain all the sorts of oatmeal recipes I’d expect, though more inventive: different flavorings of hot oatmeal, granola and bars. The overnight refrigerator oats were new to me. The blueberry Earl Grey overnight refrigerator recipe entails combining nondairy milk, an Earl Grey tea bag, oats, blueberries and a little sweetener, and refrigerating the concoction overnight in a Mason jar.
Some of the really fun dishes are those I wouldn’t expect to contain oatmeal, such oatmeal taco “meat” filling. Hester includes lots of soup recipes, combining oatmeal with yellow split peas, butternut squash, chili, or other traditional soup ingredients. The chickpea veggie soup turned out just like the picture in the book. It’s hearty, packed with healthful sweet potatoes and carrots, though a bit bland until spiced with Sriracha sauce.
The Cajun-stuffed bell peppers require a simple mixture of black-eyed peas or kidney beans, cooked steel cut oats and spices. The filling was pretty skimpy – next time I’d add more beans and oatmeal to fill the peppers all the way – but the flavor was good and it was an attractive dish. I substituted two bell peppers with red peppers for added color and variety.
The drinks chapter offers more unusual things to do with oats. You can make plain or flavored oat milk, coffee creamers, oat hot chocolate and even a cream liqueur. This last combines oats, whiskey, agave, vanilla and dates. A vegan cream liqueur is almost sure to surprise your dinner guests.
The last chapter includes a lavender oat bath soak, a hand scrub and several oat-based treat recipes for dogs and cats. I haven’t tried the catnip kitty treats yet, but it’s hard to imagine my little carnivore eating anything vegan.
Hester, wholives in Durham, North Carolina, has several other books to her credit: Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just You, The Great Vegan Bean Book, and her best-seller, The Vegan Slow Cooker. Her popular blog is called healthyslowcooking.com.
The book itself is nearly square and lies nicely flat when opened. Most recipes have a photo, except for some granola, granola bars and smoothies, which are easier to visualize.
OATrageous Oats is a great addition for people who already love oatmeal, or for anybody trying to sneak more oats into their own diets or those of loved ones. – by Teresa Bergen, RFT Vegan/Vegetarian Editor