Oatmeal Cookie Bars

I bake with oatmeal quite a bit. Chiefly because it’s cheap and lasts a long time in the pantry though also for it’s health benefits. During our baby years while there were infants to nurse, I’d eat plenty of oats everyday to help boost my milk supply. Now, I like to feed oatmeal to my kids in their snacks.

This recipe is one I make frequently because it’s quick to throw together and my husband in particular loves it. I adapted itIMG_0359_1 from a Holly Clegg recipe for low fat Oatmeal Cookies, making changes for convenience and our own personal taste preferences. This cookie bar has a creamy, chewy center and crispy exterior. It’s great for dipping in milk or to eat crumbled over ice cream. We also have them as a quick breakfast bar on the go or for a filling snack. I make a batch of these for my family every weekend to keep on hand for the school/work week. To change things up or for a special occasion I’ll add chocolate chips. This can also be made into a birthday cookie by baking into a pizza pan prepared with nonstick baking spray.

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Ingredients

  • 2/3 C oil (I prefer canola, use what you like)
  • 1 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 or 4 t vanilla extract
  • 3 C all purpose flour (or 1 1/2 C whole wheat & 1 1/2 C AP flour)
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned or quick cooking oatmeal

Method

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare a jelly roll pan with parchment paper overlapping the sides. You could also just spray the pan with baking spray but parchment allows for easy removal once the bars are cooked and cooled as well as much easier clean up when it’s time to do those dishes.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In your mixing bowl combine the oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir until dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Stir in the oats.

Drop by heaping spatula or spoonfuls onto your prepared baking pan, dispersing evenly. This dough is a bit thick & sticky so rather than dropping the whole bowlful into the middle it helps to drop in little bits all over the pan and work the blobs together as evenly as possible. Once you’ve got the cookie dough spread across the pan place into the oven and bake for 18 minutes. Once baked remove to a cooling rack and cool in the pan. If baking with parchment, allow the bars to set a few minutes then you can pull them out by grasping the paper and remove to the cooling rack. Otherwise allow to cool in pan. Once cool, cut into bars and enjoy!

Lactation Cookies to Boost a Mother’s Milk Supply

 

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March 2006

To be honest, if baby formula had been within our budget (or free) when we had our first child, I’d have gone that route. I found breastfeeding to be miserable and very, very difficult. My poor baby didn’t gain weight for the first 6 weeks and even after that she wasn’t chubby. She nursed every 30 minutes to an hour because my output was so low. But I had to stick with it to save money and ultimately am so glad I did. I found that a Lactation Consultant is worth their weight in gold and that any breastfeeding problem, no matter how hopeless it may seem, can be fixed with their help.

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June 2008- tandem nursing

I continued to nurse that first baby through a pregnancy, her 2nd birthday and alongside her baby sister to spite the fact that I promised myself I’d quit after 5 months. I went from hating it & counting the months until I could quit to loving it and wanting to help other moms succeed like I had.  With our second baby I was suddenly a high producer and it. was. AWESOME!

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May 2012- Struggling to make milk again

Then… with our 3rd, I barely made enough to sustain a flea and sought help from a Lactation consultant again. I was given a supplemental nursing system to feed my little one his formula while getting the stimulation I needed and avoiding getting him hooked on bottles.

That combined with taking a lot of fenugreek had me exclusively breastfeeding by the time baby was 2 months old.  I would not have been able to do it without the help of professionals and now I’ve nursed 3 babies through toddlerhood. Can you tell I’m proud? 🙂

Medela's "starter" SNS
Medela’s “starter” SNS

I enjoy these cookies with a hot cup of Mother’s Milk tea and some Jane Austen. Don’t fret if your husband and children want some, they won’t suddenly start lactating as a result and this recipe makes more than enough to share. I like to make up a batch and deliver along with a box of tea to anyone who has just had a baby. You can type up the recipe and put it in a card for a baby shower. I don’t need much of an excuse to make cookies though. Happy baking & milk making!


 

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Lactation Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen

Preheat your oven to 325° and grease your cookie sheet.

Combine then set aside to soak :

  • 4 T water
  • 2 T flax meal

In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine then set aside:

  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 12 fenugreek capsules, open, sprinkle powder & discard capsule (optional)

With a stand or hand mixer, combine:

  • 1 C softened butter
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 C brown sugar

Once those are creamed, mix in:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 T brewer’s yeast
  • pre-soaked flax meal

 

Add dry mixture, stir (mix gently). Then add:

  • 3 C oatmeal
  • 1 C chocolate chips

Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto a lightly greased (or use parchment paper) cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. After removing from oven, allow to set for a minute before moving to a cooling rack.


Tips

Oven Temp: You can bake these cookies anywhere from 325° – 375° depending on how crispy you want them to be. Keep in mind they’ll cook more quickly at the higher temp. My family likes them soft so I cook them at a lower temp. If you consistently burn or under-cook foods, use a thermometer to test the true temp of your oven and then adjust accordingly.

Chocolate: It’s not a good idea to omit the chocolate chips from this recipe. They mask the flavor of the brewer’s yeast which is sharp and somewhat bitter. You won’t taste it at all with the chocolate in there, though!

Special ingredients: I find flax meal in all my local grocery stores either in the cereal or baking aisle. Brewers Yeast and fenugreek can be found in organic/natural food sections. Kroger, Safeway & Albertsons stores all have these special sections or you can go to a vitamin supplement store. As an added bonus, the fenugreek adds a pleasant maple flavor to your cookies.

Oats: Whole grain oats are great for helping stimulate milk production. That may be where the idea that beer is good for milk supply comes from! In addition to these cookies I eat a ton of granola bars when nursing an infant.

Banana Bread

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So tired of dry, bland banana brick!!! Excuse me, had to get that off my chest. Here is my tried and true recipe, modified many times until I was satisfied with the result. Eat it warm from the oven, butter melting on a slice, or cold from the fridge with a cuppa joe. This bread is so irresistible that I need to make 3 at a time just to have it last more than a day. In fact the loaf in this photo was pulled out of the oven a little too early and didn’t get the usual high crown on top. It just smelled too good and we couldn’t wait any longer to drop the hammer on the warm, cakey goodness. With ice cream. Mercy.


Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf

Preheat your oven to 350° and grease your bread pan.

With a stand or hand mixer, combine:
1/2 C softened butter
1 C white sugar

Once those are creamed, add:
2 eggs
4 bananas, smooshed (a good task for the rugrat hanging from your apron strings)
1/2 t coconut extract (if you don’t have just double the vanilla- no sweat)
1 t vanilla extract

In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine:
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg (if you don’t have, or don’t want, these spices, feel free to substitute apple pie spice, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, whatever you like)
1/2 C chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. A dry spaghetti noodle stuck into the center should come out clean, not gooey. Cool for about 20 minutes before running a knife around the bread and gently loosening from pan. I like to shake the pan back and forth and feel for the bottom to release before inverting.


Tips

Baking powder: It causes your banana bread to rise and gives you that nice crown on top. If the powder has been open more than 6 months you will not have as good of a rise so if you don’t know how old it is, use a new can. Also, it’s not a good idea to buy baking powder in the bulk dry goods section because there is no way to know how long it has been sitting there.

Flour: When measuring flour you want it to be light and airy, not heavy and packed. Before measuring, I use my scoop to toss the flour about in it’s container. Some bakers swear by using a spoon to gently measure it out or to sift it. Keep this in mind if you end up with a dense or dry baked good.