What's for Breakfast?

An oatmeal cookie is a fine breakfast

We've reached the end of July and thus, of oatmeal month: with recipes for overnight oats, baked pumpkin pie oatmeal, oatmeal brûlée, and savory miso oatmeal with a poached egg.

If the idea of a savory bowl of oats was unappealing, then rest assured this week we're back to starting the day with something sweet.

With all the handwringing in the media lately about the overconsumption of sugar and of processed foods, I want to remind you that, while eating is a biological necessity, it is also a cultural practice, one with psychological aspects — good and bad. Some mornings, it can be ridiculously hard to get out of bed, and so remember: you should never feel bad about starting your day with a food that gives you joy. Eat a goddamn cookie for breakfast if you want.

If it makes you feel better, you can call it a "breakfast cookie," particularly if the baked good in question contains oats. The cookie recipe below, adapted from Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky's Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook, contains not only oats (ground into oat flour) but a vegetable too — a sweet potato. Goodness knows, there are plenty of SEO-friendly articles detailing the "six surprising health benefits" of the tuber. But at the end of the day, it’s a key ingredient in this cookie recipe because it’s delicious.

Image credits...

Timothy Burke recently listed some of the most annoying instructions in recipes, and I too find it irritating when you go to make something “simple” and you realize that there's a whole other, lengthy process required to prepare an ingredient before you can actually start on the recipe in question. The New York Times cooking site is notorious for telling you the meal prep time is 35 minutes, but then neglecting to note you have to marinate something for 8 hours before you start.

So heads up: this recipe calls for sweet potato puree. You can cook a sweet potato just for this recipe — it’ll take between 5 and 50 minutes, depending on how you do so; or you can use canned pumpkin in a pinch.

To bake a sweet potato: you can keep it whole, stab it in a couple spots with a fork, and roast at 425° for about 45 minutes. Then let it cool, peel off the skin, and puree in your food processor. You could also microwave it — again prick holes in the skin, and then cook for about 5 minutes. Cool, peel, puree.

Or you can use leftover sweet potato — don't worry too much if you've seasoned it already (mashed sweet potato with some cream and butter and ginger and cayenne is terrific, incidentally). Indeed, sweet potatoes are delicious and the next time you buy them at the store, get extra — the puree freezes well, and you can use it in a lot of things, including smoothies: the topic of next month's recipes.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies

Servings: 12 large cookies (or 24 smaller ones, but then you gotta eat two because this is your breakfast, right?)


  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbs grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger or both
  • 2 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 c maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/2 c butter, melted (or oil of your choice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts, optional


Preheat oven to 350. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Add the oats to your food processor, and pulse until they become a rough flour. You can, of course, mix together the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then stir to combine. Or you can put everything — the almond flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, puree, maple syrup, butter, and vanilla into the food processor and blend it together — save some dishes, eh? Stir the nuts if you want.

Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop the batter onto the baking sheet. Don’t worry — they won’t spread.

Bake until golden brown — about 25-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.