Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip "Nursing" Cookies

Don't be afraid of the name.  These cookies are for everyone.  They are delicious.  They are made with stuff you find at the grocery store.  They won't make you... you know... unless you're already nursing.  (In which case they're supposed to help with your milk supply.)  They're safe for both Dukes and Duchesses.  I wish I had a better name for these delicious, chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies that are just filled with good stuff, but "Delicious, Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies That Are Just Filled with Good Stuff" is too long, and I'm terribly uncreative when it comes to naming things.  (It took a week and approximately 1,243 trips through a thesaurus before we landed on Wholesome Duchess, just to give you an idea.)  Any names I DID think of were already taken by people who make these types of cookies for a living, and I didn't want to take away from their hard work.

What makes these cookies special?  They basically have lots and lots of extra good stuff that you don't normally find in a cookie.  Things like Omega-3s, LOTS of fiber, B-vitamins, vitamin E, folic acid, protein and essential amino acids and minerals, which are exceptionally good for people who are stressed or who have low energy levels.  (People like, but not limited to, nursing moms.  Hence the name of the cookie.)  For more on exactly what's going on inside this little cookie, and why they help nursing  moms with their supply, click here.

These aren't diet cookies, and shouldn't be taken exclusively if you're trying to increase your milk supply.  They're still made with butter and white sugar and flour (yum yum!).  But they are a yummy 2am snack if you're nursing (or even bottle feeding) and need something to eat one-handed, and can often help exhausted parents get those few extra calories they need to sustain themselves at all hours of the night (and make milk!).  (I recommend freezing them in pairs in sandwich baggies, inside a large freezer bag.  When you're up at 2am, remove the cookies from the freezer, set aside with a glass of milk, nurse the munchkin, then eat and head back to bed.  A good energy supplier, and tasty too!)

A few preparation notes:
Browning the butter-- You don't have to do it.  You could just cream the butter and sugars together.  But I've found that the browned butter tastes SO MUCH BETTER that I generally do it now.  Plus it makes an even more moist cookie.  To brown the butter, don't use a dark-bottomed pan, it makes the browning hard to see.  If this is your first time browning butter, its not as hard as you might think-- just don't walk away from it while its on the stove.  Put the butter in the pan, turn it on med-high, and keep stirring until you see brown at the bottom of the pan and it starts to smell nutty.  You might think its browning, but keep it on the stove until you KNOW.  There is what I call and "ah-HA!" moment, when you know its browned.  As soon as you reach that moment, take it off the heat and out of the pan.

Millet Flour-- Millet is a whole grain that originated in ancient China.  It adds a "sweet" flavor to baked goods so it seemed a natural addition to the cookies.  You can find it in "healthy" stores, as well as in the health food section of your grocery store (or maybe even near the flours, I suppose it depends on where you shop).  If you're not inclined to try it or you can't find it where you live, you can substitute any kind of whole grain flour that's good for baking sweets or even all-purpose flour instead.  It won't change the texture terribly, but will cut back on the extra "goodness" of the cookie.

Brewers Yeast-- Three things to know:
     1) You'll find Brewer's Yeast in the health supplement section of your grocery store (next to protein powders, etc).
     2) I'm still not sure if Brewer's Yeast and Nutritional Yeast are essentially the same thing; there seem to be varying opinions on that both online and actually AT the yeast companies, who I called.  What I know to be true is that people have made cookies similar to these with nutritional yeast and they like them fine.  I opted for brewers yeast because vegan websites have made lots of mention of the "cheesy flavor" of nutritional yeast, and I didn't want to risk it in my cookies.
     3) Brewers yeast is, well, a form of yeast.  If that's a problem for you, then leave it out.  (This means don't use if you or your munchkin have thrush or any other type of fungal infection.)

Chocolate Chip "Nursing" Cookies

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 Tablespoon wheat germ (found in cereal aisle near oatmeal, etc)

1 cup of butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar (I like dark brown, but use what you have)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup millet flour
1/4 cup Brewer's Yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups oatmeal- thick cut or old-fashioned (no instant or quick oats)
1 cup (or more) chocolate chips

Preparation Instructions

Wisk together water, flax seed meal and wheat germ in a small bowl, and set aside.

Brown roughly 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) of butter in a large pan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with heat resistant spatula or wisk.  You'll know its done when it starts to turn brown (there is an "ah-ha" moment) and it starts to smell nutty.  Pour into heat safe bowl and add remaining 4 Tablespoons butter and allow to melt, stirring occasionally.  Add both sugars and stir until blended (it will be VERY thick).  Add vanilla and eggs and mix until incorporated.  Let sit 3 minutes, stir for 30 seconds, and repeat two more times.  (This allows the sugars to melt, making them even more yummy.  You could skip all this and just cream butter and sugars with vanilla and eggs, but trust me, its worth the time.)

While the butter and sugar are getting to know one another, in another bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients except oatmeal and chocolate chips.

Once the butter and sugar have sufficiently mixed together, (3 sets of "3 min sitting and 30 seconds stirring"), mix in the flax seed mixture until incorporated.  Then slowly blend the dry ingredients into the wet.  Add the oatmeal and chocolate chips until just mixed.  Scoop or drop onto an un-greased cookie sheet or stoneware (I use about 3 tablespoons of dough per cookie).  Bake 8-12 min depending on size of cookie, until they're browning around the edges and looking mostly dry in the center.  They also transfer to a cooling rack better if you let them firm up on the sheet out of the oven for about 2 min before moving them.