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.
My personal 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. Use all-natural sugar (e.g. raw sugar, real maple syrup, or honey) and cut the amount of sugar denoted by a traditional cookie recipe in half. Use dark chocolate chips, raisins, or nuts to flavor the cookies.
I developed a recipe for homemade lactation cookies when Alden was about 6 months old. I would bake a batch or two of the cookies and freeze half of them. I would eat maybe 3 or 4 per day and I definitely felt a difference. Some women claim they have robust milk production that causes heavy leaking, but I never did. I could feel the extra milk, though! The following recipe is what I developed, and a good example of a cookie recipe that utilizes the aforementioned healthy suggestions:
Gluten-Free and all-natural “Lactation” Cookies
-WET Ingredients- -DRY Ingredients- -Optional-
2 T water ¼ c coconut flour 1/3 c dark chocolate
2 T flaxseed meal 1 T tapioca flour chips, pecans,
2 T coconut oil, melted ½ t baking soda almonds, or raisins
½ c natural sugar OR ¼ c honey ¼ t salt
1 T pure vanilla extract 2 T brewer’s yeast
¾ c peanut butter OR almond butter
1. Soak the flaxseed meal in the water for about 2 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
2. 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.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
4. 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.
5. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
6. Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until slightly brown. Allow the cookies to cool before eating.