If you're a new mom or know one, these oatmeal-raisin (or chocolate chip!) cookies are a delicious AND nutrient-packed snack. Unlike many other lactation cookie recipes with refined sugars and flours, you won't find any of that nonsense here. Just ol' fashioned oats, nutritious-for-anyone-and-milk-boosting brewer's yeast, and loads of fiber. Oh yeah, and dark chocolate chips, which by the way are little antioxidant powerhouses.
A Better Cookie
While nearly unheard of until the last decade, recipes for "lactation cookies" are everywhere. Edible Times: case in point. But to truly be beneficial for a nursing mother, any recipe must be high in fiber, loaded with protein, iron, good fats and low in sugar. Doesn't sound like a cookie at all, does it? Keep reading.
I promise nursing or not, oatmeal cookie deliciousness is in your near future. These cookies are crispy on the outside, and honeyed, chewy, and rich on the inside. Loaded with juicy, sweet dried fruit or even chocolate chips, if that's your jive. Either way, most definitely edible times.
After years of baking cookies for nursing friends, family and myself two times around, I believe a few key ingredients can give a new mom the most bang for her cookie buck.
- Old-fashioned rolled oats
- Oat flour
- Brewer's yeast
- Ground flaxseed
- Oat bran or psyllium husk powder
- Raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots and/or dark chocolate chips
Oats and oat flour. Oats are high in iron, and low-levels of iron can inhibit a nursing mom's ability to produce sufficiently. What I love most about baking with oats and oat flour, is the two are also full of fiber and minimally processed. If you can't find oat flour, simply grind whole oats in a blender or food processor. Without a way to grind oats, replace with an ancient grain or whole grain flour.
Brewer's yeast. A great source of b-complex vitamins and protein. Not just for nursing moms, brewer's yeast is a powerhouse player in any diet. Read more about brewer's yeast here.
Ground flaxseed. Like many other seeds, flax is insanely high in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, flax is the most potent dietary source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) for we humans. And these essential fatty acids are crucial to an infants fast-developing brain.
Psyllium husk powder. This is a common fiber supplement that aids in digestion. Most Americans need more fiber in their diets, and new moms are no exception.
Dried fruit. Here comes iron, again! Dried fruits are concentrated antioxidant super heroes, and contain significant iron, too. Incorporate a variety of dried fruits to up the nutritional ante.
I cringe when I come across lactation cookie recipes that include refined sugars and white (all-purpose) flour. These foods are empty calories, and the last thing a new mother should eat. Nursing mothers can burn up to an additional 800 calories a day in order to feed their newborns. The worst way to support this level of increased energy need is with insulin-spiking sugars and processed starches like refined wheat flour.
Ditching processed flours
Even in the absence of symptoms, the wheat protein gluten can cause mild inflammation in the body. The science is still evolving, but there's truly no harm in ditching any processed flour. It's empty calories in the best of times.
To increase the fiber and protein in any baking venture, reach for whole grain, unbleached flours. And don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for simply gluten-free flours. Many of those are as processed as white wheat flour, even if slightly better for your health. In addition to oat flour, baking flour blends that include bean flours, almond flour and root flours like tapioca bring much more to your cookie than typical all-purpose flour.
The Best: Honey + Molasses
Raw honey. The absolute best sweetener for anyone at any stage of life is honey. Especially with raw honey, this miracle substance is a great source of antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and choc-full of amino acids. While much of this may perish in the heat of the oven, the possible benefits of reaching for honey first are unmatched by other sweeteners.
Molasses. I love molasses for everyday baking, and incorporated it often when expecting and nursing both my children. As a by-product of sugar processing, molasses actually makes off with all the good stuff. It boasts calcium, iron, potassium and even selenium in substantial amounts. Best to stick with organic molasses to avoid any residual agricultural chemicals.
Better: Coconut Sugar + Maple Syrup.
Coconut sugar. If honey won't cut it for you or the new mom in your life, coconut sugar is a great replacement for white sugar. It's less glycemic than white sugar, and slightly less refined.
Maple Syrup. Many followers of a paleo-style diet reach for maple syrup, but be careful with this enticing tree sap. Maple syrup is incredibly high on the sweetness meter, so a little goes a long way.
Artificial Sweeteners. Food markets are flooded with so-called natural sweeteners like monk fruit, stevia, sucralose and erythritol. While plenty of nutritional studies have attempted to discern their benefits and/or harm, the science is inconclusive as a whole. Best avoided by nursing moms, or anyone for that matter. Not in my cookie!
Steps + Tips
The dough for these oatmeal-raisins delights comes together quickly and simply, like most any other cookie.
Step 1. Combine dry ingredients. Whisk all the dry ingredients together. This helps evenly distribute the oats, brewer's yeast, flaxseed and any added fiber so each cookie gets its fair share. I love oats and cinnamon, but spices such as nutmeg, cardamom or a pie spice can up the scrumptious factor. Whisk any additional spices in with the dry ingredients.
Step 2. Soak fruit. Chop any larger dried fruits like apricots, and soak all the dried fruit together in hot water. This keeps the fruit from drawing moisture out of the cookies during baking. Soak while you mix the dough, then strain the fruit before folding in.
Step 3. Cream the fat + sugar. Beat softened butter or coconut oil with the molasses and sweetener of choice until lightened in color and texture.
Step 4. Wet ingredients. On medium-low speed, beat in the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time. Scraping the bowl and the beater(s) often give you a smoother dough that will bake up evenly.
Step 5. Dry ingredients + mix-ins. On low speed, mix in dry ingredients a little at a time. Scrape the bowl throughout mixing, but especially with this step. Then with a spatula, gently fold in any soaked and strained dried fruit and/or chocolate chips. Dough can be prepared to this step, and chilled for up to a week, or frozen.
Step 6. Scoop, press and bake. With a chewy, dense cookie like these, I find flattening the scooped dough allows for the best bake. I use a quick and easy method to press all my cookies at once, and prevent sticky, gooey hands.
Simply scoop your cookies onto the pan, cover with a sheet of parchment, then use another cookie or sheet pan to press down on all at once. Then, voila, ready for the oven, lickity split!
Any combination of the below mix-ins are a wonderful way to avoid flavor fatigue if you keep your cookie jar routinely stocked. Unsweetened dried coconut is also a great source of medium-chain-triglycerides and more iron.
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
- Organic raisins
- Dried apricots
- Dried dark cherries
- Chopped roasted pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate chips or chunks, use this recipe for homemade paleo chocolate chunks
Whether with raisins or chocolate chips, oat flour or a paleo blend, these cookies are just what new moms need. The feeling that they, too, are being loved and nurtured as they embark on the wild ride we call motherhood.
Yours in motherhood,
Crispy, chewy, moist, sweet, naturally gluten-free and no refined sugar! These oatmeal lactation cookies offer loads of nutrient-dense ingredients, like brewer's yeast, to help boost a new mother's milk supply.
For a more dense cookie, you can replace the oats with oat flour (the ratio will still be correct). If you bake with just oat flour, let me know how it goes in the comments!
And don't worry, anyone can enjoy these delicious and nutritious treats, and feel less guilt in the process!
- 2 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
- ½ cup oat flour
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 tablespoons psyllium husk powder or oat bran
- 3 tablespoons brewer's yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 8 ounces/2 sticks pastured butter or coconut oil*
- ⅓ cup honey, ¼ cup maple syrup or ½ cup coconut sugar (or organic brown sugar)
- 2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-1½ cup dried fruit and/or dark chocolate chips
Soak Dried Fruit
- Soak any dried fruit in the hottest water your tap will give while you mix the dough.
Mix + Chill Cookie Dough
- Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Beat butter, honey and molasses in a large bowl using a hand mixer or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until combined and lightened in color.
- Add eggs, salt and vanilla, and beat on medium speed to mix well, scraping the bowl and beater often.
- On low speed, beat in dry ingredients in several additions.
- Drain and squeeze excess water from dried fruit, if using.
- With a spatula, fold in fruit and/or chocolate chips until evenly dispersed in dough. Cookie dough can be prepared to this step several days ahead and stored chilled for up to a week.
Scoop + Bake
- Preheat oven to 350° F/175° C.
- Scoop even size balls of cookie dough onto non-stick or parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing a couple inches apart. See tip above for pressing cookie dough balls flat for even baking.
- Bake until the cookies are set, and just begin to brown around the edges, 8-10 minutes. The longer you bake, the crispier the cookies will be.
- Cool cookies on pan for five minutes, then carefully remove from pan to cooling rack.
- Store in an air-tight container at room temperature, or freeze.
Cookies with coconut oil will scoop easier and bake better if the dough is first chilled until hard.
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