They’re sweet, they’re nostalgic, we all want them exactly when they come out of the oven and the best thing overall is they help with milk production. Yes! Lactation cookies!
Everyone can think back to a time when they were making or decorating cookies. Maybe it was for a potluck or a friend or you were at your grandmother’s house around a holiday.
One of my favourite memories with cookies was being very young:
I can’t remember how old I was but I could take a guess and say around 6. My Mother always loved baking and decorating cookies and cakes with us. Even though she has quite the sweet tooth herself and is notorious for eating our Halloween candy, picking the flavors of our birthday cakes, and hiding chocolate in her car (sorry mom. I can always find where you hide it), I am so thankful to be able to close my eyes and think of her and all the sweet activities she did with us. One night, my Mom brought home these sugar cookie decorating kits! Each kit came with a few cookies, a couple different coloured icings for us to decorate with and a little bag of sprinkles. I got a baseball and an ice cream cone cookie. As a child, I wanted to be a perfectionist and both of these cookies had some great line work involved. I sat for a long time trying to decorate these cookies to look like their 3D counterparts. My Mom kept my two sisters and myself so incredibly excited by complimenting us and wiping our hands to make sure we wouldn’t smudge color where we didn’t want to. She is a Supermom! I don’t know how the night ended.. Probably long past our bedtime with my Mother’s mouth littered with cookie crumbs but I still love her for bringing us a night of good fun.
A picture of my mom and I in the early days.
During the postpartum period, gifts of meals, treats and supplies are always greatly appreciated. What does a mother love more than someone who does a load of laundry and dishes? Someone who does these chores and brings lactation cookies! As we know, breast milk and breastfeeding is not only beneficial for baby but helps the uterus contract to its pre-pregnancy size and can reduce the chances of a period with postpartum depression. Baby is getting colostrum and mass amounts of nutrients that are vital for their growth and development and mom is moving forward with her new way of being the provider. With a good latch and a good milk supply, mom and baby have a great opportunity to bond in a new way. Of course, some mothers find breastfeeding to be difficult or uncomfortable at times. Nutrition and overall health is necessary while you are breastfeeding and healing from the birth. If you were able to set up a meal train before the birth, ask for nutrient dense dishes that you can freeze for later dates. It is also important to take in a lot of liquids—you will be making enough milk for baby but you also need to keep yourself hydrated! If you are experiencing high amounts of stress, have something you need to talk about, had an unexpected birth outcome or are having a difficult time achieving a good milk supply, I suggest talking with your midwife, your doula, a La Leche League member, or a strong figure in your life that you feel comfortable with to help you find your breastfeeding solution.
I also recommend adding galactagogues into your diet. Galactagogues are substances that increase a woman’s lactation. You may already be consuming galactagogues in your daily diet like oatmeal, fennel or fenugreek, alfalfa or blessed thistle but it doesn’t hurt to try new things like hops or brewer’s yeast. In the lactation cookie recipe below, I have added in a blend of spices, brewer’s yeast, flax and oats that not only add flavor but help with milk production and overall health.
Although these cookies are aimed to help with milk production, they are healthy for the whole family too! Kids, males and tea dates will love to nibble on these wonderfully flavored morsels of comfort. If you make too many, they freeze great and can be saved for a later date or kept if you have a friend who is due around the same time as you.
Try experimenting with dried fruit and chocolate, spices and seeds. I like my cookies a little less sweet with more flavorful chewy and crunchy bits in them so everything with a star can be altered to a little more or a little less depending on what you like. Overall, you want to aim to have about 1-1 ½ cups of nuts, fruit or chocolate but you can also leave all of these things out if you like a plain cookie. Same goes for the spices—I find it easiest to smell the dough as I go and add pinches of this and that until the dough is aromatic before cooking. You can always bake off one cookie part way through your experimenting to see what it will taste like. These cookies have a great base and great opportunity to be transformed for your taste buds.
Spiced Lactation Cookies:
4 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1 cup softened butter or alternative
2 eggs at room temperature- or an egg substitute
1 ¼ cup brown sugar- try coconut sugar or reducing to 1 cup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour- experiment with part coconut or almond flour!
3 ½ tablespoons brewer’s yeast- look for it at your local health food store
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
½ cup pumpkin, sunflower seeds or shredded coconut*
¼ cup chocolate chips*
½ cup dried fruit- try chopped apricots, prunes or raisins*
2 teaspoons cinnamon*
1 teaspoon ginger*
1/4 teaspoon fennel*
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg*
¼ teaspoon star anise*
Bake at 350 degrees
In a small container, mix flax seed and water together. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until they combine and turn into a goo-like consistency. While the flax and water are combining, measure out your dry ingredients (flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, salt, spices). In a stand up mixer, beat brown sugar and butter together. When the sugar mixture is lump free, add in your eggs and vanilla. Let the mixture combine until it is fluffy (5 minutes or so) and then add the flax seed. Once combined, add in dry mixture slowly so it doesn’t spray everywhere. I find it easiest to combine the wet and dry ingredients first with a spatula and then follow with the electric mixer. When the ingredients look well combined, fold in oats and dried fruit, nuts or chocolate.
Scoop batter with a tablespoon and roll into a ball in your hand. If you would like, you can now roll the mixture on a surface that has been dusted with seeds, oat pieces or coconut. I really enjoy rolling these cookies in coconut and flax. Press cookies onto greased baking sheet, 12 per sheet. If you wish, you can decorate the tops of the cookies with a few chocolate chips or seeds—again, I enjoy placing 6 pumpkin seeds in a circle facing inwards on top. If the cookies are a gift, the little bit of decoration can show a lot of extra effort and make them even more special to the recipient. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, until the bottoms are slightly brown. If your oven bakes unevenly, turn the cookies at 6 minutes to get an even colour and equal cooking time on every cookie. Once the cookies are out of the oven, let them sit for 5 minutes before transferring.
Try and let the cookies cool for a few minutes before giving them a try. The aromatic warmth that comes from the mixture of all the spices will leave your home smelling delicious and your breast milk on its way!
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend,