My memories of the weeks after my first daughter was born are hazy at best. I remember that she cried a lot, absolutely hated her car seat, and loved it when we bounced with her on an exercise ball — and that I was continually grabbing handfuls of food to satisfy my appetite. Breastfeeding hunger is no joke, especially when you're nursing every two or three hours around the clock in those early days.
Think of lactation cookies as a new mama's best mealtime secret: They can be made ahead of time, are easy to eat with one hand, and help ensure a healthy milk supply for baby. Oh, and they taste pretty great, too.
What Is a Lactation Cookie?
A lactation cookie is usually soft, chewy, and filled with milk-boosting ingredients — particularly oats. Good ones veer more towards granola bars than dessert cookies in terms of nutrition so that each bite helps a nursing mama satisfy her hunger.
Packaged lactation cookies have started popping up on the market lately, as a few smart companies realized how many health-conscious new mamas desire snack options that are easy to eat with one hand so tending to a baby at the same time is no problem.
The Power of Oats
Rolled oats provide the base of most lactation cookies, as they are widely regarded as a natural way to increase milk supply. Galactagogue-reputation aside, they also provide a solid dose of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins, which can all help keep mom's energy up, especially when paired with healthy fats, nuts, and dried fruit. (To make these gluten-free, choose certified gluten-free oats.)
A Base Is as Good as Its Mix-ins
These lactation cookies hold together well despite being flour-free, due to the combination of ripe banana, flaxseed, and egg. The almond butter and coconut add some good fat and help the cookies satisfy hunger a little longer.
Texture-wise, these lactation cookies have slightly crisp edges on the day they are baked, and turn soft and chewy on the days following. They have a bit of crunch from nuts, sweetness from fruit, and just enough indulgence from dark chocolate to provide a momentary feeling of escape. Pick and choose the mix-ins depending on your mood (although chocolate is always a good idea).
How To Make Lactation Cookies
What You Need
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup honey
1 cup mashed, very ripe banana (about 2 medium)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups rolled oats, ground slightly in a food processor (about 30 seconds)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup nuts, such as sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, and/or pecans
1 cup add-ins, such as chopped dark chocolate, mini chocolate chips, snipped dried cherries, snipped dried apricots, snipped dates, and/or raisins
Glass measuring cup
2 baking sheets
- Soften the almond butter and honey: Warm the almond butter and honey for 15 to 30 seconds in the microwave in a glass measuring cup or bowl to ensure they are easy to stir.
- Mix the ingredients: Stir the mashed banana, egg, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Add the almond butter and honey. Add the oats, flaxseed, nuts, coconut, and 1 cup add-ins. Stir together with a spatula or wooden spoon until completely combined.
- Chill batter for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Prep for baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Portion 1/4-cup mounds of chilled dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly into rounds about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick.
- Bake for 22 to 24 minutes: Or until set and lightly golden-brown around the edges. Remove from oven.
- Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet: Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Store the cookies: These lactation cookies store well in an airtight container for 5 days at room temperature or in the fridge (depending on your preference), or in the freezer for up to 3 months in a zip-top storage bag with as much air removed as possible. Thaw overnight in the fridge or for a few hours at room temperature.
- While chilling the batter does take a little time, it ensures that the cookies will bind together well and bake up with the best texture.
- Grinding the oats in a food processor improves the overall texture of the cookies, helps distribute the ingredients more evenly, and makes it less likely that bits of oats will fall onto baby's head while you're enjoying a snack.
- If you're pregnant and are trying to stock your freezer, you can make these any time in your third trimester and stash them away until baby comes.
- These can be eaten at room temperature or chilled, depending on your preference.
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