A current trend in the breastfeeding world is to bake or purchase “lactation cookies.” These treats allegedly cause the nursing mother to produce a higher volume of breastmilk after ingesting them on a regular basis. While there are dozens of recipes for homemade lactation cookies online, the two constant ingredients in every recipe are flaxseed meal (ground flax seed) and Brewer’s yeast.
Brewer’s yeast is an atypical food source in the Western diet because it is the yeast residue that settles out of wort as it ferments to become beer. This yeast, which is otherwise discarded, is dried out and sold as a sort of unofficial vitamin supplement. Brewer’s yeast is host to a few nutrients (e.g. chromium, potassium, selenium, B-vitamins) that may boost milk production in a nursing mother. Flaxseed meal is a good source of nutrients that are essential for infant development: folate, Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and several other minerals.
The theory behind why these cookies work for many women is that the presence of flaxseed meal and Brewer’s yeast gives a boost of nutrients that are less common in the Western diet. Eating these nutrient-dense treats acts as a sort of nutritious supplement that allows the nursing mother’s body to draw from the excess dosage of vitamins and create more breast milk. This theory is still unconfirmed, as few human studies have been performed on the subject.
These cookies need not be reserved only for nursing mothers, though. Anyone who wants a good source of vitamins in their sweet treats can eat them and enjoy! The important thing to consider when baking a healthy sweet treat is to aim for two goals: to increase nutrient content as much as possible and to keep sugar content as low as possible.
In order to accomplish both of these goals, stick to all-natural ingredients in the cookie recipe. Switch from the typical wheat flour to alternative nut flours (e.g. coconut or almond flour) to achieve a boost in nutrients that are otherwise lacking in the Western diet. (Side note: Alternative flours require different levels of eggs, water, or oil than typical wheat flour, so be sure to use a pre-written recipe for alternative flours if you don’t have experience with using them.) Use all-natural sugar sources (e.g. “raw” sugar, real maple syrup, or honey) but make sure to cut the amount of sugar denoted by a traditional cookie recipe in half. For example, 1 cup sugar written in the traditional recipe becomes ½ cup maple syrup in our healthy option recipe. Use dark chocolate chips, raisins, or nuts to flavor the cookies. The following recipe is a good example of using the aforementioned suggestions:
Gluten-free and all-natural "Lactation" cookies
- 2 T water
- 2 T flaxseed meal
- 2 T coconut oil, melted
- ½ c natural sugar OR ¼ c honey
- 1 T pure vanilla extract
- ¾ c peanut butter OR almond butter
- 2 eggs
- ¼ c coconut flour
- 1 T tapioca flour
- ½ t baking soda
- ¼ t salt
- 2 T brewer’s yeast
- 1/3 c dark chocolate chips, pecans, almonds, or raisins
- Soak the flaxseed meal in the water for about 2 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
- In a large bowl, mix together all of the wet ingredients, adding the eggs last. Mix in one egg at a time until well-blended.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
- Using a ¼ cup as a scoop, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix each scoop into the batter before adding another scoop. Add in any optional ingredients last, folding them into the batter.
- Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
- Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until slightly brown. Allow the cookies to cool before eating.
Connect with local Okinawa moms on Facebook in “Pregnancy & Birth Talk Okinawa”
Japan Birth Resource Network provides evidence based information and mother friendly support throughout Okinawa and Japan. To learn more visit:
Birth Education Center of Okinawa’s April Schedule
- Monday, April 25 - Breastfeeding Basics
- The BEC offers a Weekly Wednesday Weigh In every week for breastfeeding mothers & baby, IBCLC consultations, Hypnobirthing, Infant Massage, and more.
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