I’m still on my make-ahead kick over here, preparing for those exhausting first few weeks of nursing a newborn around the clock. When my son was born, I recall being hungry all day long. Having a quick snack on hand, like these energy bites, was a real life-saver.
Even if you don’t have time to make these snacks ahead of time, they are unbelievably quick and easy to prepare– ready in about 10 minutes from start to finish. They are loaded with ingredients that are thought to boost your milk supply, including oats, flax seeds, and healthy fats, but they are a delicious and nutritious snack regardless of whether you’re a nursing mom or not! My toddler adores them.
(As an added bonus for pregnant women, they are a great way to sneak in your 6 dates a day if you are still waiting for your baby to arrive…)
What I love about these energy bites, as opposed to traditional lactation cookies, is that they are naturally-sweetened with only fruit and can be prepared a lot faster than baking a batch of cookies. Simply throw everything into a food processor, roll them into bite-sized balls, and devour! I imagine you could customize this recipe into a variety of flavors, but I’ve decided to keep it simple using a classic combination of organic peanut butter, sea salt, and vanilla. Feel free to add in a handful of dark chocolate chips to make these bites taste like cookie dough straight from the fridge!
Before we get to the recipe, please keep in mind that the absolute best way to boost your milk supply is to simply breastfeed as often as possible. During the first 6 weeks, when you and your baby are establishing your supply, baby should be offered unlimited access to the breast, even if they are simply using you as a “pacifier.” Breastfeeding is a supply & demand process, so the more your baby demands (a.k.a. nurses), the more your body will make– unless it’s interfered with through the use of pacifiers, supplemental formula, or trying to stick to a timed schedule. For more evidence-based breastfeeding information, I highly recommend checking out KellyMom.com.
Now, let’s snack.
Date & Oat Lactation Energy Bites (Vegan, Gluten-free)
Makes 16 bite-sized balls
1 cup soft dates, pitted (Soak them in water for 10 minutes and drain well, if not soft and squishy already)
1/3 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats
6 tablespoons organic unsalted peanut butter, or nut butter of choice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an s-blade, process the dates until a sticky ball is formed. Add in the flax, oats, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla and process again until finely ground and crumbly. The mixture should stick together easily when pressed between your fingers. If the mixture doesn’t stick together, try adding one tablespoon of water and process again.
Use your hands to roll the dough into bite-sized balls, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Arrange them in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet, cover tightly, and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve. (Once cold, you can pile them into a smaller storage container without them sticking to each other.)
Note: You are welcome to roll these balls in a fun topping, if you like, such as crushed peanuts, cacao powder, or shredded coconut. For best results, I recommend rolling them while the dough is still at room temperature, so it’s still slightly sticky.
- In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an s-blade, process the dates until a sticky ball is formed. Add in the flax, oats, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla and process again until finely ground and crumbly. The mixture should stick together easily when pressed between your fingers. If the mixture doesn't stick together, try adding one tablespoon of water and process again.
- Use your hands to roll the dough into bite-sized balls, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Arrange them in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet, cover tightly, and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve. (Once cold, you can pile them into a smaller storage container without them sticking to each other.)
Calories per energy bite: 80, Fat: 4g, Carbohydrates: 9g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 2g
Substitutions: This recipe easily lends itself to substitutions since you can taste and make adjustments as you go. If you’d prefer to avoid peanut butter, feel free to use almond butter, or even sunflower butter or tahini as nut-free options. If you want to avoid using dates, I’d recommend working with my Salted Peanut Butter Truffles recipe instead.
Also, I know brewer’s yeast is a common ingredient in lactation cookies, but I just can’t do it. The flavor is SO overwhelming, and I can’t force myself to eat something that doesn’t taste good. So, feel free to add it if you like, but start with a very small amount to make sure you don’t ruin your recipe. I found that brewer’s yeast wasn’t necessary to help with my milk supply last time, so I will continue to skip it and enjoy the cookie-dough-like flavor of these energy bites.
I hope you enjoy them, too!
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite healthy snack to keep on hand?