When I was pregnant, my husband – being the helpful and (sometimes annoyingly) organized guy that he is – signed us up for a few of those pre-natal courses at the hospital. One of them happened to be a breastfeeding course, and since I’d heard a few stories from friends and friends of friends about the challenges they faced, I thought “why not?”. Well I can now answer that question with a few reasons, the main being the fact that the woman teaching the class actually said that a mother’s diet does not matter when it comes to breastfeeding. DOES NOT MATTER! Insert record scratching noise.
After almost literally falling off my chair (and resisting the urge to throw it at her), I walked out thinking: is this the kind of misinformation women everywhere are getting from so-called “experts”? I was sick thinking about it. So when a friend of mine requested I talk about post-natal nutrition while breastfeeding on the blog I thought – yes, perfect! Let’s talk about boobs, breastfeeding and all the ways it DOES matter what you eat, starting first with fats. And of course, helping you get started turning your milk into a baby superfood with this week’s recipe: Vegan Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!
So I know when you’re done popping out a mini, fat is the last thing you want to think about since if you’re like me it is actually ALL you think about – mainly how much of it is on your body. But first, let’s give ourselves a damn break because we’re amazing and beautiful and having a baby is HARD! And second, fat (and more specifically eating it) is absolutely necessary for growing that mini into a happy, healthy full grown adult. Because duh – eating fat increases the fat content in your breast milk of course, and that’s how you get a nice, chubby baby!
Before going to far I should specify I’m talking about HEALTHY fats. Trans fats – like those found in that bag of potato chips, frozen pizza or tub of margarine – actually decrease the fat content in milk (yet another reason to stay away from processed foods!). Healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and fatty fish are the ones you want. Not only do they make sure you have nice fatty milk, they also increase baby’s levels of lipase, esterase and alkaline phosphate – the enzymes needed for baby’s optimal assimilation (absorption and use of vitamins and minerals) and digestion. Furthermore, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (most importantly AA and DHA) are essential for the development of baby’s nervous system, without which a baby will likely suffer learning disabilities and slowed development. I always advise clients to focus more on anti-inflammatory omega-3s (mostly because the average person gets more than enough omega-6s from their diet – sometime too much!). Chia seeds provide a good dose of both of these fats, but other good sources of omega-3s are wild caught salmon and other fatty fish such as mackerel, eggs, flaxseed and walnuts.
But my absolute favourite healthy fat is coconut oil. Unlike other fats, it is a medium-chain fatty acid that’s used quickly for energy (which all moms need) instead of being stored as fat! It also has antimicrobial properties (remember – your kiddo gets his or her immunity from your milk!), improves brain function (no more baby brain!), and I literally cannot get enough of this stuff. I stir it into my morning oatmeal; put it in my coffee; cook my eggs in it; and of course, bake it into all my goodies (like today’s recipe)!
These cookies are loaded with all the amazing fats I just spoke about. I like to sub in some pumpkin butter in combination with almond and peanut butter to add a good dose of immune boosting zinc along with my fats! But there are literally every kind of nut/seed butters out there now, from cashew to walnut to sunflower, so the sky is the limit! However, I do recommend not just using peanut butter since it can be inflammatory and is a common allergen for babies. I also recommend ensuring you pick a kind with a runnier consistency to save yourself the torment of trying to mix one that isn’t!
So mamas (and non-mamas), stop worrying about the fat on that gorgeous behind and start focusing on delicious, breast milk boosting healthy fats that will ensure you and baby are well fed and happy! And remember, even that annoying critical voice in your head can be silenced with a cookie. 😉
The Natural Blonde
P.s. Coconut oil is also amazing for treating any dry skin on baby (or yourself for that matter). Although warning: a baby who smells like delicious coconut does nothing to curb that monster breastfeeding appetite, so best not to have a dozen cookies lying around when using….
Vegan Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ cup natural smooth nut butter (I used the following combo: 2 Tbsp. pumpkin butter and 3 Tbsp. each peanut butter and almond butter)
⅓ cup xylitol (or coconut sugar)*
3 Tbsp. organic virgin coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup gluten-free rolled oats
⅓ cup gluten-free oat flour
¼ cup arrowroot flour/starch
1 Tbsp. coconut flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. sea salt
⅓ cup 70% cocoa chocolate chips
In a large bowl, combine the nut butter, coconut oil and vanilla and combine until smooth. In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients except the chocolate chips. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until completely combined. Last, add in the chocolate chips.
Using a large spoon, scoop 2-3 Tbsp. worth of dough per cookie onto a parchment lined baking sheet, then gently press down each cookie to flatten slightly. Bake for 10 mins, then remove and allow to cool for 2-3 mins. on the pan before transferring to the counter or a wire rack to finish cooling.
I like these cookies out of the fridge since they become chewy and dense when cold! They can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week but I guarantee you they will not last that long. I ate 3 while taking the pics for this post….
*I haven’t tried coconut sugar but I imagine that the cookies might be denser and perhaps drier than with the xylitol. You could also try coconut nectar or maple syrup but I’d chill the dough for 5 mins. or so before baking so you don’t end up with pancake cookies!
**This recipe was inspired by Oh She Glows One Bowl Chocolate Chunk Cookies