Instead of paying $20 for lactation cookies, here’s how to make them


It’s been a long time since I was a breastfeeding mama, but I’m still an advocate for all things that support mother’s milk. In the years since I had my kids, we seem to hear about fewer incidents where moms who are feeding their babies are asked to leave an establishment or cover up, but women still need all the help they can get.

Moms have many tricks up their sleeves to increase milk supply. There are all kinds of foods, including beer, that are said to help, but the most popular form of edible lactation support is baked goods with ingredients such as brewer’s yeast, flax seed, hemp seeds and oats.

A friend delivered homemade lactation cookies to me when I was on maternity leave with Avery — six years ago, you most definitely could not buy commercial lactation cookies.

Now, the Seattle-based Milkmakers is selling lactation cookies and teas in grocery stores around the country. Last week, I spotted them at H-E-B. “Cool! Lactation cookies!” was my first thought, followed half a second later by, “For $20? What’s in these things?”

The cookies contain all the ingredients you’d find in one of the thousands of lactation cookie recipes on the internet. They were so expensive, I struggled to imagine myself as a new mom spending $20 when I really needed that money for diapers or other groceries.

There’s all kinds of scientific proof that even one lactation cookie can increase your milk supply, and they are inexpensive to make once you have some of the ingredients on hand. Brewer’s yeast is the only ingredient you might have a hard time finding in a physical retail store. I hear mixed reports on whether nutritional yeast, which is more widely available and almost identical to brewer’s yeast, works as well, but you can buy brewer’s yeast inexpensively online.

My mama friend Mary Helen Leonard, whom I met through her food blog, Mary Makes Good, made a ton of lactation cookies (well, bars) when she was breastfeeding her son, and the recipe shows how easy — and inexpensive — they are to make.

When she first published the recipe, she joked that the cookies were so good that she had to forbid her husband from eating them all. They are also packed with nutrients, and Leonard, who is working on her second book, “The Naturally Handmade Mama,” for release early next year, recommends making extra and freezing them for visitors who are helping you during those first few weeks and months.

She uses a large baking dish to make this dough into a bar, but you could experiment with dropping them onto a sheet pan to make round cookies, too. The may bake quicker or take extra time if you use a different size pan, as the thickness of the bars will change. Just watch them carefully as they bake, keeping an eye on the color and hardness of the cookies.

Baby Mama Postpartum/Lactation Cookie Bars

The cookie starts off with a classic sugar, flour and butter base, with a dose of iron-rich molasses. Whole oats, flax seeds, hemp hearts, brewer’s yeast and almond flour give the cookies a rich array of protein and nutrients. Dark chocolate chips are added for the sheer pleasure of them. If you prefer, try swapping out the chocolate for raisins or another type of dried fruit. You can find hemp hearts, almond flour and flax seed in the natural food section of many grocery stores.

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

4 tablespoons water

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup molasses (blackstrap, if available)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/4 cup almond flour/meal

1/4 cup hemp hearts (hulled)

4 tablespoons brewer’s yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup dark chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flax seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 10 minutes or until fluffy. Add the soaked flax seeds, eggs, molasses and vanilla and mix until well blended. (Scrape the sides down before blending to make sure everything mixes evenly.)

Whisk together the whole wheat flour, almond flour, hemp hearts, brewer’s yeast, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer in two parts while mixing continuously on a slow speed. Mix until just combined. Add the oats and chocolate chips on a slow speed. Mix until just combined.

Line a 10-inch-by-15-inch (4 quart) baking dish with parchment paper. Drop the cookie dough into the dish and do your best to spread it evenly across the dish — touch each side and corner. It doesn’t have to be completely even. It’s OK if it is a bit lumpy.

Bake the bars for about 30 minutes or until the bottom of the bars are a deep golden brown and the middle of the pan appears to be thoroughly baked. Rotate the pan about halfway through cooking. (You may need to bake for an extra 10 to 15 minutes if using gluten-free flour.)

Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing into bars. Fully cooled bars can be frozen for up to three months in airtight packaging. Makes about 28 bars.

— Mary Helen Leonard, Mary Makes Good



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Austin360 Eats

REVIEW: Alvvays is just as light live, and it’s all good
REVIEW: Alvvays is just as light live, and it’s all good

There wasn’t a fog machine at Alvvays’ Tuesday night Mohawk show, but lead singer Molly Rankin’s voice still seemed like it was making its way through a thick haze. It wasn’t your ear buds. The band’s signature light-as-air sound was just as fuzzy live. Alvvays does not pack a punch. But the dream-pop group, whose...
From sexist to schmaltzy, 10 terrifyingly awful classic country songs
From sexist to schmaltzy, 10 terrifyingly awful classic country songs

If October is the time for all things spooky, perhaps I should emerge from my Spotify cocoon and and tune in to the radio and the mainstream. For there is nothing more terrifying to me than … Modern! Country! Music!  Or is there? Sometimes at night, when the midnight drive home leaves me alone with my iPhone and only a few hundred cars...
The secret sauce to Fischer & Wieser’s success? Family and new flavors
The secret sauce to Fischer & Wieser’s success? Family and new flavors

No jam, jelly or savory sauce is too weird for Fischer & Wieser’s product development team to try out. Weird is what won them the country’s biggest specialty food award in 1997. That’s the year the Fredericksburg-based food manufacturer became nationally known for its roasted raspberry chipotle sauce, a smoky-sweet sauce that became...
Weekend music picks: Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and more
Weekend music picks: Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and more

Friday: Tom Petty birthday tributes at Hole in the Wall and One-2-One Bar. Tom Petty cover bands had popped up all over the country long before his death earlier this month, including at least two in Austin. Both will be in action on Friday, which would’ve been the iconic rocker’s 67th birthday. The Damn Torpedoes, with ...
How to get stuffed peppers right — the peppers, the sauce, the filling
How to get stuffed peppers right — the peppers, the sauce, the filling

Fresh peppers, hot and spicy, sweet and crunchy, are the ultimate quick change artists. I roast poblanos and jalapenos for Mexican-style rajas, puree red and orange bells into soups and sauces, dice green bells and Anaheims for omelets and gingerly tuck habaneros into salsa. When the farmers market baskets overflow with varieties not regularly found...
More Stories