Travel Food: Oatmeal Cookies (gluten-free, flourless, vegan, processed sugar free, oil-free, cholesterol free!)

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Since we’re having an unexpected rain and thunderstorm, there was no chance to go out for some fresh air today. So I thought I’d start catching up on some recipes I’ve intended to post.

I’ve been vegetarian for almost 3 decades. To me, that was no loss. I thought meat was gross. It looked disgusting, smelled bad, and didn’t taste very good. Except for one friend, until recently I’ve been the only vegetarian I know for a long, long time. I was used to the ridiculous questions: “Where do you get your protein?” “How can you live without eating meat?” etc. I was used to having a hard time finding something to eat when going out with my meat-loving friends and family.

Then about 10 years ago, I got sick. It took about 6 years to figure out that my body didn’t like gluten, despite many, many doctor visits. I cut it out completely and haven’t looked back. That was even harder, because it further limited my choices. But I figured it out.

I’ve tried being cutting out all animal products before, but that was really hard. I LOVE cheese. I was still eating eggs too, but more for convenience than because I liked them. When a gluten-free vegetarian goes out to breakfast, eggs are often the only choice (unless you want a “fruit cup”). Take away the eggs and you’re probably out of luck at most places.

But I’ve really been in denial. Cheese and eggs aren’t healthy and don’t have any nutrients that you can’t get from better sources elsewhere. And I suspected recently that my digestive tract wasn’t fond of them either. An elimination diet confirmed that. Part of me thought (read: hoped) that it might be a temporary change, but my new gastroenterologist says that not only should I continue to cut out gluten and dairy, but I need to avoid processed sugar as well. They’re all irritating my body. I decided at that point that I might as well get rid of eggs and honey while I was at it.

So what is left for me to eat? How does a gluten-free, sugar-free vegan have cookies? By taking the recipes out there that I want to eat and tweaking them to suit my needs, that’s how.

Here’s a recipe that I like to make when we’re leaving for a trip. They’re easy to eat when you’re in a vehicle (even while driving) and are filling and help with a craving for sweets without being too sweet. This is modified from the recipe on the back of the Trader Joe’s gluten-free rolled oats package. The original recipe calls for chocolate chips, but I’ve made them that way and thought they tasted weird. Just a warning in case you decide to go that route. I decided to go more traditional with raisins and added some nuts as well. This may seem like a lot of fat, but as someone who mostly eats plants, grains and a little fruit, there isn’t much fat in my diet, so I’m not too worried about it. Besides, I cut out all the processed sugar, butter and eggs! So these have no cholesterol.

Oatmeal Cookies
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 flax eggs*
  • 1 cup almond butter or other nut butter (room temperature is easiest to work with)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Golden raisins (optional)
  • Walnuts (optional)


  1. Mix the flax eggs and let sit. While waiting, preheat oven to 350 degrees and mash bananas. When the eggs are ready, add bananas, baking soda, nut butter and vanilla until mixed well.
  2. Add rolled oats 1 cup at a time and incorporate. If you wish, stir in raisins, nuts or any other topping.
  3. Form cookies into ~¼ cup balls and then flatten on a baking sheet.  You have to flatten the cookies; they are very dense so they will not spread with baking. I use a non-stick silicon baking mat, which does not require any cooking spray.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until very lightly browned. If you think they’re not baked, check the bottoms because they can burn easily! The cookies will come out very moist but will hold together well.
  5. Lift off with a spatula and allow to cool. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 1 week.

*Flax eggs are made with 1 tbs flaxseed meal and 3 tbs water to replace one egg, so double the ingredients for 2 eggs. Mix together and let sit until most of the water is absorbed (approximately 10-15 minutes).

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