I have absolutely no idea who Manuel Freedman is (or was). This recipe dates from when we lived in Key West in the mid-80s, but I have no idea where it came from, who gave it to me or any other explanations. What I do know is that these cookies are easy, healthy, and delicious. They contain no added sugar – all the sweetness comes from dried fruit (which is why cranberries are not the best choice for these cookies). The only fat comes for a 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and from chopped nuts. Best of all, the ingredients are things that are often on hand in the pantry, making these a very frugal treat.
The recipe instructions say the cookies should be sliced before baking – don’t skip this step! They firm up during baking and are very difficult to cut afterwards. The recipe also calls for chopped dates but I have substituted raisins with success. I’m guessing that other dried fruits could be used, like dried blueberries, apricots, or mango, but the cookies will be less sweet (or not very sweet at all).
The cookies have been kid tested and approved! My girls adored them even though they’re less sweet than other cookies I have made or bought.
MANUEL FREEDMAN’S OATMEAL COOKIES
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup rolled oats, either quick or regular
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 1/4 cups finely chopped dates (or raisins)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 325°. Generously grease a 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Blend flour, oats, salt and oil until evenly mixed. Add walnuts and chopped dates, and 1/3 cup water, mixing together with your fingers until evenly damp (you can add more water if necessary, but dough should not be “sticky”). Press down very well into the baking pan, then cut into 16 2-inch squares before placing in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes; the cookies will not be dark. Cool completely before removing from the pan and store in an airtight container.