This article was originally shared in Regenerate Magazine.
One of the biggest challenges is cooking and eating with this amazing, wonderful and needy new child. The first time I ever burned food beyond repair was after my second child was born. My daughter had colic and it was the time of day when the painful crying would last for hours. My four-year-old son needed his mom, too. We all needed to eat. When I saw my green beans burnt to a crisp in the pot and overcooked chicken, I just sat down and cried. How was I supposed to take care of two children, make sure I kept my milk supply, lose the baby weight and eat healthily?
Thankfully, we all ate some avocado toast and survived. After that night, I made it my mission to come up with some easy to make meals I could easily prep during nap time, would provide lunch and snacks for at least three days, deliver vital nutrients and boost my milk.
Keeping your supply up
Let’s talk about the foods that boost your milk supply and replace vital nutrients that were diminished during pregnancy and birth. Eating the right foods will give you much-needed energy, improve the little bits of sleep you get, help your hormones get back to normal and keep your immune system strong. Eating the right stuff will also help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight or, if needed, set you up for long-term weight loss success. Here is what is recommended:
This food is famous for boosting lactation. Not only does it help with milk production, it is high in iron, fiber and B vitamins. It is also easy to prepare, making it the perfect staple for a breastfeeding mom. To make your life easier, I recommend making my lactation cookies (recipe to follow) or and make overnight oats. Both are easy to eat when your hands are full, and the cookies make a great grab-and-go snack.
Nuts and seeds
High in vitamin E, iron, magnesium, calcium, protein and carbs, they help boost your milk, ease skin itching, give you much needed calories and help you stay full. An easy snack is a banana topped with almond or peanut butter. You don’t even have to plate it! Peel the banana, grab a spoon and that jar of peanut butter. Scoop it out and put it on the banana before taking a bite.
Ask your partner, best friend, mom or dad to grill up pasture-raised chicken thighs, a grass-fed beef steak or wild-caught salmon and make a Starbucks-inspired protein plate. High protein intake is essential for maintaining your milk supply, energy levels and keeping you satiated. There’s no need to make anything fancy – get food storage containers and put in cubes of meat, a hard-boiled egg, grapes and a couple cubes of cheese. And now you have several easy-to-eat, one-handed meals.
Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens are nutrient powerhouses and especially high in B-vitamins, which are absolutely necessary for your energy level and overall health. An easy way to include greens into your day is to add them to smoothies. Grab some frozen berries, an orange, flax meal, protein powder, a couple handfuls of greens, water and ice and you will have a delicious, filling and milk-boosting smoothie. Salads are always my personal go-to, and I also like to add them to soups during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Foods rich in good fats
Your milk is half fat (and a ton of cholesterol for their growing brain and nervous system). You need to consume at least 40% of your calories from healthy fats. Let’s put the dangerous “low fat” craze in the trash heap. And remember – fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does. You and your baby need a lot of fat to maintain your milk supply; boost brain health; absorb all the fat-soluble nutrients in those dark leafy greens; absorb vitamins A, E, D, K2 and powerful antioxidants to help fight inflammation; keep you full (thus promoting weight loss) and maintain energy levels. Don’t be afraid to smother your vegetables in butter, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to your salad dressing, eat an entire avocado on that toast or add coconut oil to your coffee or tea.
Desiccated liver capsules
This may not sound appealing, but hear me out. Nutrients for your child were taken from your body and some of the food you ate. The absolute best way to replenish your stores is to consume the most bioavailable sources possible, and liver is it. I did this with my second and the difference between baby 1 and baby 2 was astonishing. It’s worth the investment and capsules make it really easy. Just like taking a vitamin!
With your hormones all over the place, constipation is a real problem in the early weeks. In addition to this, your milk is also a pre- and probiotic-rich elixir that will help populate your precious baby’s gut. Consuming probiotics is a must. You can get them from capsules, but the most cost-effective way to get them is to eat fermented, probiotic-rich foods. You can buy raw sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented pickles from health foods stores, or you can make them yourself at home.
It’s not a food but is incredibly important for your health and milk supply. Drink it cold, warm, flavor it with fruits and herbs, but make sure you’re drinking 10 cups a day or more. You may also enjoy herbal teas, but be careful which ones you choose because not all are breastfeeding safe.
You got this
I know this can seem like an overwhelming list, but the most important things to remember are lots of healthy fats, protein, and water. Depend on your support system, buy pre-cooked meats, premixed salads, or frozen green smoothie packs. I also recommend keeping a huge jar of nut butter and fruit on hand. Peanut butter was my lifesaver! I wish I had known about lactation cookies back then. I would have had my freezer full of them! This is why I’m excited to share this recipe with you!
Gluten Free Lactation Cookies
Finding done-for-you gluten free lactation cookies, from a dedicated gluten free kitchen, is difficult and expensive. Having a new baby is expensive already! If you have the energy, make this recipe, and if you don’t, ask a friend to make them for you. They are worth their weight in gold! They freeze well and will last up to 30 days in the freezer.
You will need 1 1/2 cups gluten free oat flour, 2 cups gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats, 1/4 cup flax meal, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp cinnamon powder, 2 tbsp brewers yeast (not gluten free) or nutritional yeast (optional), 2 eggs (or 2 flax eggs) , 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 cup raw cane sugar or maple sugar, 6 tablespoons butter or virgin coconut oil, 1/4 cup milk of choice, and add in’s of choice. Three options are ¾ cup mini chocolate chips or ¾ cup raisins and/or ½ cup chopped nuts.
To make oat flour, pour olf fashioned rolled oats (not the 2 cups for this recipe though) into a food processor and process until it becomes a flour-like consistency.
To make flax eggs, take 2 tablespoons flax meal and mix with 6 tablespoon water. Mix well and put in the fridge for 10-30 to gel completely.
Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. In a large bowl, add the oat flour, oats, flax meal, nutritional or brewer’s yeast (not gluten free and optional), baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. In a separate bowl, add in the eggs (or flax eggs), vanilla, sugar, coconut oil or butter, and milk. Mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix by hand with a baking spatula completely. Then stir in your add-in of choice. Using a spoon or scoop, form 2 inch size balls of dough and line your baking sheet. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Remove from the oven and move to a cooling rack.
Store in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month.
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Gluten Free Lactation Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups oat flour
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 cup flax meal
- 2 tbsp nutritional or brewers yeast not gluten free
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 eggs or two flax eggs. See directions above.
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp butter or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 1/4 cup milk of choice
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips or nuts optional
- Preheat the oven to 325 F
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet
- In a large bowl, add the oat flour, oats, flax meal, nutritional or brewer’s yeast, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, add in the eggs (or flax eggs), vanilla, sugar, coconut oil or butter, and milk. Mix well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix by hand with a baking spatula completely.
- Stir in your add-in of choice.
- Using a spoon or scoop, form 2 inch size balls of dough and line your baking sheet.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes. Remove from the oven and move to a cooling rack.