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Rolled oats (Recipe: apple-pear-cranberry crisp)


In the 1960s, my parents called me a crunchy-granola head.

They weren't wrong.

I wore Earth Shoes. I memorized the poetry of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Patchen. I shopped at a health food store called Erehwon, the opposite of Nowhere. I gave up chicken for tofu. I drank herbal tea and burned incense and wore love beads and actually said things like groovy, man and hep cat.

I baked my own bread (my parents saw this as incontrovertible proof of my granola-ness).

By 1978, I'd gone back to eating chicken, tossed the love beads, and traded my Earth Shoes for the Birkenstocks I wear every day (yes, I'm still a little bit crunchy-granola). I bought the newly-published Moosewood Cookbook, and Mollie Katzen's recipes sent me to the health food store once again, for exotic-in-the-1970s ingredients like wheat germ and miso paste and rolled oats.

When I first saw rolled oats in a Moosewood recipe, I was puzzled. I'd always kept some supermarket-brand oatmeal in my pantry for baking cookies. I wondered whether those oats were rolled oats.

Indeed they were. Rolled oats (a.k.a. oatmeal, rolled oatmeal, old-fashioned oats, old-fashioned oatmeal, flaked oats, flaked oatmeal, or oatflakes) are oat groats that are steamed, rolled, and flaked so that they cook quickly but still retain all of the bran and germ. Note that instant oatmeal is a different product, often made by partially cooking rolled oats, rolling them again, and adding sugar and salt.

Rolled oats have proven health benefits; high in beta-glucan, a type of dietary fiber, oats are especially effective in lowering cholesterol, as well as blood pressure and overall risk of cardiovascular disease. Oats are high in antioxidants, and lower on the glycemic index than other whole grains.

Buy rolled oats in small quantities; because they have more fat than some other whole grains, they will go rancid if stored for a long time. Keep them in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to two months, or in the freezer.

With rolled oats in the pantry, you'll want to try making your own granola, of course, and oatmeal cookies. But how about burgers and bread? Or dog biscuits?

I may have been a crunchy-granola head, but I was never a farmer, so I didn't know until recently that oats are strong enough to survive poor soil and growing conditions. Maybe that's why our bodies are stronger when we eat rolled oats.

Apple-pear-cranberry crisp

A perfect dessert for this season, this can be assembled ahead, but should be baked just before you want to serve. You can substitute 3/4 cup dark or golden raisins for the cranberries. Serves 6-8.


3-4 tart apples (Macoun, Cortland, Granny Smith, or a mix)
3-4 firm pears, such as Bartlett or Bosc
Cooking spray (PAM or other brand)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp all-purpose unbleached flour
2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Water or unsweetened apple juice

For the topping:
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil


Preheat oven to 375F°. Peel, core and slice apples and pears until you have enough to fill an 8-9" (diameter) casserole. Grease the casserole with butter or vegetable spray, and set aside. In a large bowl, mix sliced fruit, lemon juice, 1 tsp cinnamon, flour, cranberries and walnuts. Return the mixture to the baking dish, and add enough water or apple juice to barely cover the bottom. Mix topping in a bowl and press onto top of the fruit mixture. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until apples and pears are soft. Serve warm with freshly whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Granola cookies
Aggression cookies
Old-fashioned apple pie

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I'm always trying to sneak oatmeal into our food...it is one of the few healthy things my husband will eat. Your crisp sounds lovely.

Lydia, I love to use rolled oats in cookies, too. They have such special crunch.

I have to admit I did not have Earth Shoes...there was something else popular in my neck of the woods. I did wear an army field jacket everywhere, though, esp. to the Viet Nam protests!
Still wear Birkenstocks - damn, but they last FOREVER! (I want a new pair...)
Love the oats!

I had to laugh about the idea of rolled oats as an exotic ingredient! But I must admit why they were called "rolled" and how it worked. And the Apple-Pear-Cranberry Crisp sounds groovy!

Great post! My husband eats so much crunchy granola that, by now, he must be quite literally a granola head.

The resident farmer here (my husband Matt) has grown oats and I learned from him the "sowing your wild oats" refers to the fact that oats grow anywhere. We still plant them as part of a green manure mix. True confession: we buy huge boxes of Quaker Oats from BJ's and never have a problem with them spoiling.

LOL! "Crunchy granola head?" I love it. ;-)


Appropriately, I am reading your post while eating my morning oatmeal -- with a spoonful of peanut butter stirred in. Yumm!!

I love this Post and the recipe Lydia, so nice!!!!!Gloria

Peabody, maybe you can get him to eat it while he's distracted by a hockey game (or while you are)!

Anh, I'm still partial to oatmeal cookies, especially chewy ones with raisins.

Katie, maybe you and I were at the same protests....

TW, I remember being totally awed by Moosewood when it first came out -- and nobody in my family had ever talked about "rolled" oats, so it was exotic to me.

Nupur, I still love granola, too -- I mix it with cottage cheese!

Mary, Quaker Oats are so much easier than going out into the field and harvesting your own!

Paz, thanks. Crunchy granola head was a somewhat derogatory term used by people like my parents to describe those of us who were more "back to the land". But I think it's charming, and I'm proud to be a crunchy granola head!

Alanna, oatmeal and peanut butter -- that sounds delicious.

Gloria, thank you so much.

This is a regular product in our house, and I wouldn't make a crisp without them, it just makes it extra special =)

I love oatmeal! I was just thinking about writing a blog entry called "ode to oatmeal"

Kelly-Jane, same here -- perfect for crisps and cookies.

Kelly, I'll watch for that on your blog.

I´m a complete oat head too. Here in Spain it´s considered very strange, and definitely hippie.

I have a package of oats at home and haven't made anything with it yet - gotta bake something soon, Lydia!

It's important to note the 'gluten free' tag on the package. Even at McCanns, the uber-oat company, where they have processed nothing but oats for a few 100 years, traces of gluten can be found! And good information about the 'quick' oats: I have read that they don't have the health benefits of OF oats, but Quaker ads on TV promote them to lower cholesterol. Looks like the mistake of logic, taking the part for the whole. Right on!

I don't know that I was ever known as an oat head but rolled oats have been in my pantry since the early '70. Can't tolerate the instant.
Really terrific info on the oatmeal! So am I to understand that some oatmeal may have gluten in a package.
Are the cranberries fresh or dried? I'm guessing fresh as this is the season. The crisp looks excellent.

I will have to make this crisp... yummy? and healthy too? ~=D!!!!!

Lobster, I consider hippie to be a good thing!

Patricia, definitely bake with your oats. Cookies are my favorite, in case you were going to save some for me....

Susan, I didn't realize that about McCanns, but I think Bob's Red Mill (which is now available in our local discount store as well as supermarkets) is a reliable brand. Quaker does sell both instant oats and "old fashioned" oats -- and it's the old-fashioned ones that are rolled oats, and still have their germ and bran.

MyKitchen, from Susan's comment I have to conclude that some oats do have gluten in the package, though I don't know more about it than that. The cranberries are fresh, but dried ones would be delicious, too.

Sandi, definitely yummy!

Ooh, lovely, I bought some nice apples and pears from the farmer's market, and this recipe looks like a great way to put some of them to use. The wheat germ is a great touch. Thanks! I, too, love oats and granola!

Sorry for the multiple comments, but I forgot to ask this in my comment earlier. Do you know if quick oats are nutritionally inferior (to rolled oats)? I avoid the instant varieties, but I thought that quick oats were fine. Any idea?

Hey if you're going to get your fill of oats, crisp is definitely a great way to go. And that is funny about Erehwon. I've always wondered about where that name came from. Remember Laurel's Kitchen?

follow up to McCann's Irish Oats -- I believe that traces of gluten were found even though nothing but oats ever is processed at their facility. See FAQ's on their website. How does Bob's do it? (Sometimes 'free' does not = zero, though I see they have a certification)

Kamini, my understanding is that quick oats are rolled oats that have been rolled to be thinner, but still are a 100% oat product (instant oats contain sugar and other additives). So they should have the same nutritional value as rolled oats.

Callipygia, oh yes, I remember Laurel's Kitchen!

Susan, thanks for the additional info. I am glad to know more about this -- it's hard to trust anything on product labels, isn't it?

of course hippie is good! just not to people who think oats are for horses. silly people.

Lobster, I'm giggling! When I was younger and would occasionally slip and say "hey" in front of my parents, they would always automatically say "Hay is for horses." I don't know why, but that's what I thought of when you said "oats are for horses". I know, I know -- it's early, I need some coffee.....

Hi Lydia,
Great oatmeal information. Thank you!

A friend of mine has celiac disease and he said that recently, Britain cleared oats as being okay to eat. He said he went out and got an overpriced bowl at a restaurant immediately, and was very VERY happy.

Here's the news blurb from Canada about it -


Happy eating!

Meg, you're welcome!

Ohiogirl, thanks so much for the link to this article. I'm always trying to learn more about gluten intolerance and celiac, and I'm grateful to Pantry readers for sharing their knowledge.

It was fun to read about your childhood and your earthy roots! The cranberry crisp recipe sounds great - I love crisps!

Hillary, turns out I'm not the only ex-hippie in the food blog world!!!

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