Scrumptious Snacks: “Lactation Cookies”

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I am taking a hiatus from the photo challenge until Joseph is born, mainly because I’ve been going through pre/early labor for almost two weeks. This phase definitely ranks as one of the top pregnancy annoyances (if not the top), in my book.

You feel like a beached whale and everything hurts. You can’t get comfortable to sleep soundly. Your body is getting ready for labor with lots of irregular but painful contractions. So you’re exhausted. But at the same time, you’re stir-crazy with nesting and just wanting to be done with pregnancy and to hold your new baby. So you try to find ways to use that energy productively.

With Isabelle, I put together half a dozen 5000-piece puzzles the week and a half before she was born. With Joey, I’m finding myself wanting to stock the freezer with everything. Baked goods. Freezer meals. Breakfasts. And especially, quick snacks.

I remember in the early days of breastfeeding Isabelle that I was starving all the time. I was constantly on the lookout for quick, simple, easy-to-eat, healthy, filling snacks. I found a few good ones, but I thought I’d try to find a few more in these weeks leading up to nursing again.

Recently, I came across some pre-made lactation cookies, which intrigued me. Looking at the nutrition facts, though, immediately crushed my interest. They were as calorie heavy and as stuffed with sugar and fats as your average cookie, just with pro-lactation ingredients (like flaxseed and brewers yeast) added.

So, I started looking online for some healthier options. And, with a few modifications, I think I found a winner (based on this recipe).

They are full of oats, brewers yeast, and flaxseed, all of which are supposedly supply boosters. Some women swear by them, but I’m personally rather doubtful that these actually do anything to a nursing mother’s milk supply. But regardless, I’ll use any excuse to eat a cookie.

And for a cookie, they’re relatively healthy, too. From what I understand, brewers yeast is good for the immune and digestive systems (as well as being a good source of B vitamins), flaxseed is a good source of fiber, and oats are an excellent way to fill up on whole grains. I plugged all the ingredients into My Fitness Pal, and it spat out the following estimates for one cookie:

  • Calories (total): 100
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Fat: 5g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Sodium: 62mg
  • Sugar: 5g

If you want to cut even further on some parts, you can cut the butter to 3/4 of a cup, the sugar to 3/4 of a cup, and the salt to 1/2 a teaspoon. If you cut the butter and/or sugar, they’ll just be a little on the drier side, and a little less flavorful if you cut the salt. But they still turned out pretty good.

A note on the brewers yeast. It has a very strong taste that can take some getting used to, so you can add as much or as little as you want. The amount slightly effects the dryness of the cookie, but the biggest effect is primarily (supposedly) on lactation boost. I used this brand (available locally at Wegmans, if you live in the NoVa area), since the reviews I read online said it is one of the least strong-tasting brand out there. With this brand, the taste isn’t that strong, but it is noticeable (although the more sugar you use, the more you can cover the flavor). And it must be brewers yeast. Nutritional yeast, bakers yeast, active dry yeast, etc. are not the same thing.

All in all, these taste pretty good, are filling, and are a reasonably nutritious sweet treat. I wouldn’t necessarily make them for a dessert, but both husband and daughter like them and I can’t stop eating them. Hopefully Joseph comes before I consume my whole freezer stash…

Enjoy!

Lactation Cookies
Makes about 60 rounded tablespoon-sized cookies

Ingredients:
3 cups (270g) rolled oats
1.5 cups (180g) all purpose flour
6-7 Tbsp brewers yeast (to taste)
3 Tbsp ground/milled flaxseed
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened slightly
About 1/4 (80g) peanut butter
1 cup raw cane/turbinado sugar
1 egg + 2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, brewers yeast, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In another large bowl, beat butter and peanut butter on high speed until light and creamy. Add sugar and continue beating on high speed until fluffy, about 4-6 minutes. Add in the egg, egg yolks, and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three installments, beating on low until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop rounded tablespoon-sized balls of dough on a baking sheet. These cookies hardly spread during baking, so if you like flatter cookies you will need to press them down slightly.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden (the tops will darken a bit, but they will not brown much). Cool on racks, and either store in a tightly sealed container or stick in a ziplock bag to freeze. (To defrost one or two, microwave on high for 20-30 seconds, or until warm.)

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