Boobfood: Lactation Cookies

I've made a recent discovery that I would feel guilty not sharing. While mining through the internet working on another piece for this blog about breastfeeding, I struck gold. GOLD, ladies! Well, actually, I struck chocolate, and a bunch of other ingredients it turns out are really good for nursing moms. I even learned a new word! Say it with me: GalacatagogueIt means a substance that increases lactation. You, like me, may be thinking, "Wait,whaaaa? There are foods I can eat to increase milk supply? Cookies, you say? Do tell!" Well, fret not, dear mommies. That's what I'm here for.


The Fontana di Nettuno- Bologna, Italy
The ingredients of Lactation Cookies work in a variety of ways to help mother & child. ...and since they're called "Lactation Cookies", it might just be enough to steer Daddy & any other cookie monsters you may have clear! If that doesn't work, let your DH know that there is a term called "Galactorrhea",  that can happen to men, who have the same mammary glands as we do. (You know, in case we're lost in the wild and get eaten by a bear and the new baby is left to fend with father. Thanks, Nature!) Okay, so milk probably isn't going to spontaneously spurt forth a la The Fontana di Nettuno. (which would actually be kind of awesome, if you ask me- and also an easy way to tell who has been sneaking cookies while Mommy has her back turned! A warmer, stickier version of Pinnochio?) But you don't have to tell him that. 


So what makes these "Lactation Cookies" and not just insanely yummy ones? Well, a lot of reasons, really. It has everything to do with the ingredients! Some, like baking soda & powder, water (duh) and vanilla need not be specific. Some, like the oats, do. I'll explain to you what is important and why, if only so you can sound intelligent and justified while talking with your mouth full and licking chocolate off of your fingers. 

Let's start with the #1 ingredient, galactagogue extraordinaire: Oats. Not oatmeal. There is a difference between oats & oatmeal, just like there is a difference between corn & cornmeal. See?So why do they work? You probably already know that oats are filling- but they work here because they fill us with iron, a key ingredient in boosting milk supply- and also energy! Anotherfantastic & filling thing about oats is the fiber, which has been a known galactagogue for years. (Farmers even use it to help milk supply in dairy cows!) Call me Granny, but I LOVE fiber. Let's take a minute to bring up postpartum talk, where this is all kinds of good. 

 
You may, like me, have decided after childbirth that you will never, ever push anything out of your poor self EVER again. I cried when I had to poo after my first child, no joke. But pop a few cookies in after popping out a kid and your poo will practically pop out too! (Too much? I suppose that's the "Punk" part of my parenting- better than pussyfooting, I'll tell you that. If frank fecal facts don't float your boat, just wait until your little nurser hits the toddler years!) Another postpartum little-known-secret about the fiber in oats is that is aids in weight loss. HELLO! Not only does the fiber keep us full of the good stuff, it grabs the bad stuff (including cholesterol!) on its way out, leaving our intestines cleaner, thus allowing them to absorb the nutrients that make their way down even better. Spring cleaning for your insides? Score. Not to mention it helps keep baby's pipes clean, too! (Good digestion = happy baby! These cookies have even helped with my son's colic. Seriously. When baby seems uncomfortable/gassy, the response these days is, "Babe, do you need a cookie?" This might be worth another entire post.) What better way to start this new chapter than with a healthier you? 


There are plenty of ways to add oats to your diet, aside from eating a bowl for breakfast or making cookies. You can use sites like Epicurious or AllRecipes, trusty ol' Google or the ever blossoming Pinterest. (Follow me here!) I encourage you to check them out- variety is the spice of life, no? Okay: back to the cookies.

The second ingredient also known for its fibrous and milk making properties, ismilled flax seed. Milled flax is different than whole flax seeds, which essentially count as raw fiber go & go right on through without being digested much, if at all. Milled flax is already broken down to allow for better absorption. Not only does flax share the fibrous & galactagogue properties of oats, it is also full of *highly necessary* Omega Fatty Acids for mother and baby both. Omegas are critical for the brain development & growth of little ones. (Back off! I'm eating these for my baby'sbrainthankyouverymuch...") You may have seen or heard all the buzz a few years ago when companies started adding DHA into formula. However, studies have shown that the DHA in formula can cause diarrhea, which has led to dehydration, even seizures! Yikes. I'll stick with eating cookies and breastfeeding, thanks. 

 

Next up in our galactagogue ingredient list is Brewers's Yeast. Once again, Brewer's Yeast (or Nutritional Yeast) is different from other types of yeast- this is not for helping your cookies rise! You've probably heard the old wives' tale about beer helping increase milk supply. While partially true, I don't need to remind you that cracking a beer before each time you feed your baby isn't a good idea. Brewer's Yeast is a cousin to Hops, the galactagogue found in beer. Not only touted for its lactation increasing properties, Brewer's Yeast is good for protein, selenium (known for it's anti-cancer properties) & chromium, which is used in weight loss supplements -and in the body naturally- to help convert extra carbs into energy. (So uh... that cancels out the sugar, right? Well, just pretend with me, anyhow.) Brewer's Yeast can help balance the immune system, reduce respiratory problems & seasonal allergies, treat skin conditions such as acne & eczema and even cradle cap on babies! Best of all, it is high in B-Vitamins, which are important for energy (Have you ever noticed how the 5 Hour Energy Drink has 2000% of your daily Vitamin B-6 and 8333% of your Vitamin B-12?? Crikey!) and can help prevent postpartum depression by boosting mood, brain power and happiness. Sure thing! I'll take two. Dozen. (Don't worry, the recipe makes three. ;)
After some trial & error, I created a base recipe and even tried some lower fat & vegan options that I will leave at the bottom of the page. Some recipes I originally found call for peanut butter, but I found it made the cookies too heavy and filling while adding unnecessary fat and salt. Instead, I've loved using raw almonds, cashews or macadamia nuts, all of which are lactogenic and add to the hearty texture of the cookies. I have added molasses for even more iron, (once again, good for postpartum mommies) plus magnesium, potassium & calcium and makes for a slightly darker, chewier cookie. I love cinnamon (check out the health benefits here) and have tried ginger (another galactagogue, also good for circulation & digestion) to spice things up, too. I use organic, local and raw ingredients whenever possible! You are welcome to (and are encouraged to) adjust or omit to your likes & dietary needs. (and let me know how it goes!) 

Without futher adieu...

Boobfood: Lactation Cookies
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You will need: (in order of use, according to which bowl it goes into- I'm strange like that. If I was more on top of it, I would have taken more pictures. But I'm not. So there.)
 
  • one small (ramekin-size) bowl, one medium & one large mixing bowl
  • to preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Combine in small bowl & set aside to be added into wet mixture:

  • tablespoons water
  • tablespoons milled flaxseed (or flaxseed meal)

Beat together, one at a time into large bowl:

  • cup (two sticks) of butter (If you need dietary justification for this, click here and read where it suggests breastfeeding mothers, "get regular and substantial amounts of butter." Seriously.)
  • cup (raw or unbleached) sugar
  • cup of (packed) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (I use cage & antibiotic free)
  • teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses (or to taste, if that's not you're thing)
  • the flax & water mixture you just made
Stir together dry ingredients one at a time in medium bowl :

  • cups flour (I use half whole wheat, half pastry flour)
  • 4 tablespoons (this is the good stuff, ladies!) of Brewer's Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon (l5 shakes-ish) of cinnamon
Then combine everything into the large bowl and stir in:
  • 3 cups rolled (thick cut) oats
  • 1 cup (or up to a whole package if you'e not adding nuts) of semisweet chocolate chips (if you need a dark chocolate disclaimer, click here:)
  • 1 cup of chopped macadamia nuts, cashews or almonds 
I used a soup spoon and scooped balls (Wads, really. Let's not be pretentious.) about 3 tablespoons big into onto wax paper. (I use wax or parchment paper because I'm lazy- you can use more butter or whatever you'd like to line the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking)

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and let them cool before moving so they don't get crumbly.

 

And then, you have...

 

 
 
*Vegan substitutions like ones from Earth Balance are available at health food stores and online. There are a lot of dairy replacement options at Vegan Baking Secrets to try, too. I've had good luck so far using  applesauce, flax & banana.  :)
 

How did your cookies turn out? How did you alter the recipe? (I always do!) Did you notice a change in your supply or your spawn? 

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