February 28, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Cereal killer

By |2018-03-21T19:06:43+01:00July 11th, 2015|"Suzanne's Taste"|
Long before flakes, oatcakes.

y house is an all-bran house. No muesli, no Weetabix, no corn flakes, just the straight stuff for high fiber and roughage mornings. Hey, let’s call a spade a spade. Everyone skirts around the subject, right. People once took morning walks for their “constitution,” or added a nice little bowl of prunes to breakfast because it would do wonders for their… er… regularity.

But I don’t mind talking about these things. Foods with high fiber are still foods, right, and many, many fruits and vegetables contain enormous amounts of fiber, often more than all those cereals that post percentages on the box.

We need about 30 grams of fiber daily, soluble and non-soluble. Soluble helps lower cholesterol and blood glucose while non-soluble fiber just slips through the body a little like a Roto-Rooter, making it easier for the body to get rid of waste.

Artichokes are notorious for high fiber, along with split peas, lentils, raspberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, blackberries, avocados, and oatmeal. A very old friend, a nurse, told me that oatmeal cleans out your arteries like no other food and that if I ate oatmeal every day I’d never have heart disease. Luckily I happen to love oatmeal and when in Scotland years ago discovered oatcakes, which have to be one of the best cookies around for a nutritious and efficacious breakfast.

I experimented with oatcakes in my kitchen and concocted an oatcake recipe you can count on to bring fiber with flavor into your life. Another sage cook convinced me that duck fat was healthier than butter so I added a teaspoon to my mixture, along with large quantities of olive oil to make a short, crisp breakfast cookie you can crunch or dunk, depending on what your mother taught you. Fortunately, my grandfather stepped in just in time to show me the fine art of dunking, using as examples those cake doughnuts covered with the powdered sugar one can no longer find. After all this I never looked back.

The oatcake dough can be a bit sticky, so keep some flour nearby to dip your fingers in. This is not cookie dough, but only a compilation of pure, healthy fibers and nuts that will keep you away from sugar-laced breakfast cereals (even various mueslis have more calories and sugar than my cookies). You can use honey in the dough in place of sugar if you wish, or no sweetener at all. I love those, too, because I can dot the cookies with fresh cut peaches or pears or whatever seasonal fruits available in place of jams or jellies.

Suzanne’s Oatcakes (24 cookies, depending on your cutter)


  • 3 cups toasted or plain oats (not the bee-bee kind!).

  • 3 tablespoons flour of any kind plus a bit of flour for the roll-out and for your hands.

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt.

  • Pinch of cinnamon.

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (optional).

  • Pinch of soda, and I mean, pinch

  • 1/2 cup grilled almonds or hazelnuts.

  • 3 tablespoons sugar or honey.

  • 2 tablespoons duck or goose fat (believe me, duck fat has less cholesterol and gives a crispy texture) or soft butter.

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.

  • Hot water.


— Heat the oven to 350F/185C.

— In the bowl of a food processor, grind the oats and almonds. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until completely mixed.

— Add hot water just until the dough pulls together and stays firm (but still slightly tacky to the touch). Not too sticky or the dough will not roll out easily.

— Flour a smooth surface, gather the dough, and press it into a large circle. Dust with flour and roll it out into a circle about 1/4-inch thick. With a water glass or cookie cutter, cut the cookies and with a pancake turner, place the cakes on an oiled baking sheet.

— Bake for 15 minutes until light brown and let crisp in the oven, with the heat turned off and the door slightly open, until cooled.

If this sort of roughage doesn’t appeal to you, make a huge bowl of guacamole and kick back with a mojito. Lots of fiber in rum!

About the Author:

Suzanne Dunaway, a longtime major magazine writer and artist, is the author and illustrator of "Rome, At Home, The Spirit of La Cucina Romana in Your Own Kitchen" (Broadway Books) and "No Need To Knead, Handmade Italian Breads in 90 Minutes" (Hyperion). She taught cooking for 15 years privately and at cooking schools in Los Angeles, and now maintains a personal website and a blog. She divides her time between southern France and Italy.