The most delicious chocolate, hemp and tart cherry lactation bars
Rolled oats, dark chocolate, tart cherries and nutty hemp seeds make these the ultimate lactation bars. Whether or not you're trying to make more milk, these are to die for. And if you are working on making milk, they work. I mean, they reeeeeally work.
Hey there, world. I’m finally coming up for air and happy to report that all’s well on Laurel Street.
Camila, who we lovingly call Mila, is seven weeks olds today. She’s a doll — truly. I know that they say second babies are easier, but this one is really, really easy. She’s like a unicorn baby. She sleeps, eats, and only fusses a little when gassy (which is totally understandable).
Between nursing, burping and making googly eyes, I’m surprisingly still finding time to cook. Correction: I’m making time to cook.
This time around, I’m not making excuses for doing all the things that make me feel human. Cooking and feeding myself a proper meal (along with showering, exercising and having social interactions with others who can speak in full sentences) is high up on that list.
With the holidays now past and Lulu (my big baby) back into a routine with her nanny, I’m finally getting my act together to post a new recipe. I actually wrote it back in November when I was anticipating baby and wanted a stash of these ready to go in my freezer. At the time I couldn’t find a single lactation cookie or bar recipe on the internet that I actually liked — they were either too crumbly or too bitter or just downright nasty. So, I simply made one of the tastiest recipes I know and added the necessary milk-making ingredients.
Whether or not you’re trying to make milk, these cookies are the BOMB. They’re so good that I’ve had to hide them from my mother, husband and nanny. That’s because they’re actually just a slightly modified version of the no-fail, no-bake tart cherry, chocolate and hemp seed oat bars from Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s beautiful book Alternative Baker.
True to Alanna’s style, these are vegan, gluten, and dairy-free treat. I only added a couple of different nut butters, as well as brewers yeast and flaxseed, which are the key ingredients needed to make these lactation bars. And I swear they work. I have enough milk to feed a small village of infants.
So, if you’re about to give birth, or already in the thick of nursing (or pumping) and would like to give your milk supply a boost, I implore you to make these. If nothing else, they’re a delicious, arguably healthyish, treat to look forward to every day.
These freeze beautifully. I made these before giving birth, and now I can just grab one straight from the freezer when I need one.
MAKES ABOUT 16 BARS
PREP TIME: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 20 minutes TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes
½ cup smooth unsalted almond butter
½ cup cashew butter
¼ cup tahini
½ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup unbalanced sliced almonds
½ cup dried tart cherries
¼ cup hulled hempseeds
3 tablespoons brewer’s yeast
2 tablespoons flax seeds, ground and soaked in ¼ cup water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil
¾ cup (130 g) chopped bittersweet chocolate
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
- In a large bowl, whisk together the nut butters, tahini, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until smooth. Set aside.
- Place the oats in a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet set over low heat and toast until golden and fragrant, 8 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour the warm oats into the bowl with the almond butter mixture. Wipe out the skillet and add the almonds, toasting over low heat and stirring frequently until golden and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the almonds to the bowl with the oats, then add the dried cherries, hempseed, brewer’s yeast and flaxseeds. Use a flexible spatula to fold the mixture until well combined. Let sit until cool enough handle, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Line an 8-inch pan with a sling of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on each side to use as handles. Scrape in the oat mixture and use damp hands to pack the mixture firmly into an even layer.
- Next make the topping by placing the coconut oil and chocolate in a small saucepan and set it over the lowest possible heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof silicone spatula until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour the melted chocolate over the bars, and tilt the pan gently to coat it in an even layer; there will be just enough. Sprinkle the top with a pinch or two of flaky sea salt and several large pinches of cacao nibs and hempseeds. Chill the bars until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
- Loosen the edges of the bar with a small, offset spatula or the tip of a knife, and use the parchment handles to lift it up and out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to cut 16 squares.
- Store the bars airtight in the refrigerator or in the freezer.