One of the aspects I love about being a caterer is simply catering to people's needs. I really enjoy making something special for someone, especially if they're having a hard time finding what they need anywhere else. Often, this leads to creative experimentation -- another favorite activity. This happened this week at the bakery.
Yesterday, a local mom came in wondering if I could make her a batch of lactation cookies. She's had packaged ones, and didn't love them. She's tried mixes, too. I had never heard of them! We spoke, and I quickly got the idea: nutritional cookies to help boost lactation. I'm a mother of 3, and I happily nursed all 3 for as long as they'd let me. It wasn't always easy, but it was so rewarding. So, I definitely sympathize with moms' need for a little nutritional support while nursing. This mom asked me to find a recipe I liked and give it a try.
After a little searching, I saw a pattern. Most recipes for lactation cookies are a variation of oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, with brewer's yeast and flax seed meal added. There are various versions to meet other dietary restrictions -- something I always consider here at the bakery. I found, however, that at it's heart, these were really cookies, meaning lots of sugar and butter. Now, I love sugar and butter as much as the next baker (probably more so, if we're being honest), but if this mom is going to chow down on these in any great quantity to increase milk supply, she may not want all those empty calories. Plus, the amount of brewer's yeast and flax seed meal was pretty small -- little more than a serving in the entire batch by these recipes I was seeing. And the batches were large. So, I decided to play around a bit to boost the nutrition and minimize the fat and sugar.
In the end, I came up with 3 cookies, and made them each with slight variations to see what we like best. I used the same 4-tablespoon serving each of brewer's yeast and flax seed meal in all 3 versions.
First, I made a vegan, gluten-free savory chickpea cookie, flavored with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt-free seasoning. I used oat flour for the dough with no rising agent. I did add a little agave and some salt in the end. Some I rolled in salted sesame seeds and flattened very thin, and others I made a bit thicker with no seeds. The thin ones are nearly like crackers, and very tasty. The thicker ones are more like biscuits, but also very tasty! These could be adapted with a variety of flavors, and they make a great savory cookie for vegans, as well as everyone else!
The second recipe was a variation of cheddar shortbread, made with a mixture of whole wheat and white flour. I added egg and reduced the butter by half. A more traditional recipe would have tasted very good as well, but I was going for lower fat. I flavored these with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Again, I rolled some very thin like crackers and others I left a bit thicker. Both results were good. These could easily work with all whole wheat flour for more nutrition or with gluten-free flours. Omitting egg and cheese and substituting olive oil would give a nice vegan cracker. In this case, I'd add more of the brewer's yeast to get more flavor.
Finally, I made the oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, because nursing mom's need more than just nutritional support. They also need a little pampering and a special treat. I boosted the yeast and flax seed meal a bit and added some blackstrap molasses for more minerals. I decreased the sugar just a hair, but added a little more vanilla and some extra chips, because, really! They're delicious. And in the end, a bit healthier than traditional cookies with a little less butter. I made them into bars (which are a little chewier) and cookies.
Mom came by to get her cookies today, and tried the cheddar shortbread, which she liked very much. I hope she enjoys the rest of them, too!