Categories
Motherhood recipe

Nutritious Oatmeal Cookies


If you think being a parent is a strange new world, think again. It’s even stranger as a lactating mother. 

I went into Motherhood pretty cold because I refused to go down the rabbit hole. I didn’t want to scare myself. Those who know me will know that anything I put my mind to I go in with deep abandon. 

Breast feeding, is a wonderful experience and for most part, it is what they say – a great way to bond with your newborn. The chemical release of oxytocin floods through you – and for me, my tear ducts always flow.  

Then there’s the byproduct of the process – the glorious breast milk. Filled with it’s own cocktail of nutrients that miraculously changes as your infant grows. A mixture of vitamins, anti-bodies, fats, I think it’s a super food!

With Ciaran, my first born, I only managed up to 6 months. The stress at work at my previous company got the better of me and a first-time mum navigating the feelings and emotions of such a role that is motherhood — I had so many unrealistic expectations. 

That was when I first encountered this delicious word  – galactagogue.

To this day i find it hard not to chuckle. My first thought was Galactica Monologues? What fantastical thing could this be?  

It originated from the Greek word “galacta,” meaning milk.

Galactagogues help you with your breast milk. And apparently it’s a whole list of foods that ‘triggers’ or encourages your glorious pair of boobies to continue feeding your precious child. 

Fatty foods and a whole lot of herbs make the bulk of the list. From nuts to seeds, to garlic and fenugreek, it’s an interesting make up. 

Then there’s oats. Oats is the most popular one – as it’s the most commonly found ingredient and easily available. Oh and you can keep it for long. 

Having nursed my second child Eoin for the past 8 months, I was feeling rather good. But my supply has dipped of late. 

And I’ve taken it upon myself to make sure I catch up on my galactagogues. Lactation cookies were my immediate choice as I do love my oats. But I prefer not to call them lactation cookies because they are really just souped up oatmeal cookies that are ultra nutritious (and really shouldn’t be limited to lactating mothers).

The good nutritious stuff. These ingredients are easily available from iHerb (I’ve included links in the ingredient list) or your local supermarkets.

Brewer’s yeast and flaxseeds, almond butter is the brilliant trigger. And chopped chocolate chunks make them irresistible to other non-lactating humans. My son and husband enjoys them just as much as I do. 

It has been a week since and my supply has been steadily increasing. Try making these for yourself if you find yourself requiring some assistance (or even just an excuse to eat a cookie in the name of health). Brewer’s Yeast, a common key ingredient in lactation cookies is a rich source of B-complex vitamins, protein, and minerals, including a biologically active form of chromium. It is also said to be effective at supporting the nervous system and enhancing the immune system.   

Delicious nutritious morsels for lactating mothers or otherwise.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 227g butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1 tbsp barley malt* (optional)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup brewer’s yeast
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter (substitute in peanut butter or leave out altogether)
  • 3 cups rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill Thick Cut is my favourite)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate chunks

*Note: Barely malt is an excellent sweetener for baking and especially helpful for lactating mothers. It is barley grain that has been allowed to germinate. When this happens, the barley turns into a sweet syrupy malt that also contains a lot of beta-glucan (a prolactin stimulant, what lactating mothers need).

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 175 °C. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. Using a mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and barley malt until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
  3. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, ground flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast. Add this to the mixing bowl and beat until just combined.
  4. Add the almond butter and oats, mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks
  5. Drop 1.5 tablespoons of dough onto the lined cookie sheets. Bake s20-30 minute, or until the bottom is golden brown. Cookies will puff up a bit in the oven; if you prefer flatter cookies, press down on the top of each cookie with a fork. 
  6. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Store cookies in an air-tight container for up to a week; cookies will keep frozen for up to 3 months. Cookie dough can be made in advance and kept in the freezer 6-12 months (make sure it’s tightly sealed).
Categories
Life recipe

Eleven Madison Park Granola

As a self-professed foodie, I am on a constant hunt for memorable food experiences and flavours. The same adrenaline rush a climber gets from a successful ascent on yet another peak, that’s the same feeling I get when I cross paths with an utterly life-changing meal. To most, this sounds like a mighty exaggeration. Perhaps if you know me, and the fact that I live for food and what it stands for, you won’t be surprised.

The year I turned 30; a milestone marker for most, where we reflect and ask ourselves what have we achieved and done, I decided to take life by its horns and book myself a ticket to New York. Known to be a buzzing mecca of culinary delights and legends, New York had been calling out to me and this time I decided to jump out of my comfort zone and eat up New York.

Travelling alone is actually rather intimidating but when you’re at the cusp of 30 (I was 29 when I arrived and 30 when I left New York!), the world really seems like one big fat amusement park. You go on the most exciting rides, even that big rollercoaster you’d usually avoid.

The first ‘assignment’ you’re given after you’ve taken your seat is to punch out one ingredient from this card. This will have an impact on your dishes.

The highlight of my New York birthday present to myself was my visit to Eleven Madison Park. Having placed a reservation months before my arrival, I was gearing up to having a meal to remember. At that time, Eleven Madison Park was ranked 4th by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and that was a big deal (and a huge splurge) and arguably the highlight of my trip.

At the back-of-house, the kitchen, where I requested for a tour prior to my trip because I couldn’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The meal itself was very theatrical – just imagine yourself watching a culinary Cirque Du Soleil, where the servers and chefs are both storytellers and ‘acrobats’, manoeuvring their way around the kitchen and even the diner’s tables, serving up food that spoke volumes, in texture, flavour and beyond.

One of the my favourite course – the picnic basket. I really wanted to ask if I could buy their basket, and ceramic plate.

One of the things you left the restaurant with, other than an incredibly filled tummy and happy tastebuds, is a bag of treats – a chocolate bar and a whole mason jar of their iconic granola. Yes granola, and it’s nothing high brow. It’s really just homely hearty granola. But there was something about this granola. It was both sweet and tart and savoury, all at the same time. Super tasty and incredibly addictive. I finished it within days.

Since then, I have yet to savour a granola as good as theirs. I’ve always wondered what made their granola so special. I only found out years later – thanks to NYT Cooking. Sam Sifton, New York Times food editor posted the much coveted recipe to Eleven Madison Granola a few years ago and because of that, I was able to relive my New York trip and at the same time, share the joy with my family. Daryl agrees that this granola is pretty bad-a**. He doesn’t usually like granola (especially commercial ones) because they’re just too damn sweet. I’ve also made several minor adjustments, which can be found at the recipe below.

The granola mix, pre-baking. Remember to only put the dried cherries last, after it’s baked. You don’t want to risk burning them.
It’s hard finding nice plump dried sour cherries so I am pretty stoked with the ones by Eden Organic.
All mixed in!

The pistachios can be substituted with pecans if you wish. I know not everyone is a fan of pistachios.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¾ cups rolled oats (I used 3 cups)
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I used 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup dried sour cherries  (I get mine from iHerb – The Montmorency Tart cherries by Eden Organics is perfect) 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, coconut, pumpkinseeds and salt.
  2. In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the sugar, syrup and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Fold liquids into the mixture of oats, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well.
  3. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread granola over it. Bake until dry and lightly golden, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times along the way.
  4. Remove granola from oven, and mix into it the dried sour cherries. Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container. Makes about 6 cups.
A whole lotta granola! This will last you 1-2 weeks tops.
Categories
recipe

Easy Breezy Oat Squares

My g0-to fast snack option for the family. Takes less than 15 mins.

Snack bars are my achilles heel. Last month, I counted more than 6 varying types and brands of snack bars bursting through my pantry shelves. Granola, nut, protein, chia seed, wholegrain, and buckwheat bars, just to name a few. My husband Daryl has since banned me from adding to my impressive stash. I am trying to reign my obsession in. I would argue that snack bars are an essential. Fellow mothers reading this, I’m sure you’d nod in unison to all the reasons why snack bars are a must-have (especially with our on-going Covid-19 pandemic)!

  • You can multi-task even if inundated with back-to-back-to-back work conference calls; no time for lunch, no problem, a bar, 3 bites and all the energy to keep going
  • Keeps for longer, which means lesser grocery runs
  • Nutritious! Well most are, depends which ones you get. I like oat-based, wholegrain ones.
  • Great for when I feel peckish and trying not to open that bag of crisps.

But I’m not here to sell you snack bars or fawn all over them. I wanted to share a really great snack bar recipe I found and have been adapting every time I make it. Since I gobble that much snack bars, I might as well make my own and put in all the good stuff.

Pre-sliced oat bar in pan
No-bake oat snack bars, prior to slicing.

These bars are a cinch to make because they do not require you to bake and only involves 5 ingredients (excluding the fixings you decide to add).

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 heaping cup packed pitted dates (medjool/deglet noor)*
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave nectar or honey) 
  • 2 tbsp barley malt syrup*
  • 1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter (or any nut butter really)
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, coarse chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, toasted (I like to use Bob Red Mill’s Extra Thick Rolled Oats)
  • Cocoa nibs, raisins, cranberries, vanilla, or any other dried fruit etc would make great add-ins.

Method

  1. Process pitted dates in a food processor or blender (I use the latter and it works fine) for about 1-2 mins until it forms a sticky dough-like consistency.
  2.  If your almonds aren’t pre-roasted, toast them at 150°C for 10 mins
  3. Optional: Toast your rolled oats at 180°C for 10-12 mins (it should be a nice toasty golden brown)
  4. Combine rolled oats, almonds and date mixture in a bowl and set aside
  5.  Combine your syrups and peanut butter and warm them up in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over the oat mixture. 
  6. Use a sturdy spatula to mix thoroughly, until combined. Place in an 8×8-inch baking dish or a small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily.
  7. Press down firmly until uniformly flattened.  Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let firm up in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Remove bars from pan and chop into however many bars or squares you want, to size. I prefer small bite-size 1.5 inch squares.
  9. Store them in the freezer so they last longer.

Notes:
*Barley malt syrup is something I just discovered. It is easily available on iHerb and is an unrefined liquid sweetener made from soaked and sprouted barley. Its consistency is similar to molasses and golden syrup. I find that it helps bind these snacks better and I really like the flavour.
 

Tasty morsels filled with oat-goodness.

As a chocolate fiend, I had to resist throwing in chocolate chips into these bars. I wanted it to be healthy so cocoa nibs was a good alternative. It was a double-win actually – bittersweet meets natural gooey sweetness. Utter bliss and without (that much) guilt. I much prefer these bars now, and have indeed been buying less commercial made ones.

My son Ciaran is a huge fan of these snack bars.

Simple and (slightly) effortless, that’s everything you need to know about these bars. Blend, chop, mix, freeze and slice. I usually make them at night so they are nice and sturdy by the next day for my (and my son’s) enjoyment and due sustenance.