favorites list

I’ve been around many expectant Mamas in the past couple weeks.  They’re all glowing, growing and gorgeous and it’s given me major belly jealousy!  I know not every woman loves every minute of pregnancy, but I loved almost every moment.  Or maybe I loved many moments and forgot the others, but it was amazing anyway!  And speaking of those glowing women…the weather is finally starting to look up and glow a little, too.  The sun is peaking out and the temperature is creeping up.  This is me just over a year ago, enjoying the sun in all my 36-week glory.


I hope you take time to enjoy a few things that make you happy and bask in your Mama beauty!  Since I’m on a roll…if I were a pregnant Mama, this would be my list of favorites right now:

using this

doing this

wearing this while going here

listening to this

eating this, this and this {not at all healthy, but i specifically craved apple fritters while Baby A was a bun in the oven} and drinking this

also drinking this {after someone else made and served it} while I put my feet up and visualize myself here reading this {because I actually need to finish it for book club}

wearing these {because I couldn’t paint my own toe nails and they have a lovely stretchy quality} and this {even though I can’t read the website and am fairly sure I can’t afford it}

and definitely doing this with other Mamas


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happy birthday, (sans) sugar

My little Peanut’s 1st birthday is coming up in less than a month. Okay, technically it’s her second if you count the day she was born, but she’s turning 1 year old. And she’s still my BABY, so it’s her 1st birthday in my book. And with a birthday comes a birthday bash and the opportunity to make an adorable cake in her honor!


Making a cake from scratch has become one of the birthday traditions in our house. Every year for my husband’s birthday I make him a layered carrot cake. It’s vegan, but I’m not sure he actually knows that. I like to take every opportunity I can to sneak healthy stuff into traditionally tasty-but-not-so-good-for-you foods. So recently I’ve been thinking about how to make Peanut Girl’s cake cute and frilly and yummy but without loads of sugar. In the last year it’s become more important to me than ever before that my family eat a healthy diet (although I cannot be held responsible for everything my husband eats) and I’m not going to throw that mindset out the window for one cake on one day. Birthday or not!

So, I created this banana cake recipe very loosely off one I found at wholesomebabyfood.com. The cake below has no sugar though. Instead it’s sweetened by bananas and applesauce. It would be hard to make this cake wrong. And the frosting could not be easier. It’s greek yogurt, plain and simple. Honestly, I would challenge anyone to make a more simple frosting. Not possible. One ingredient! And Peanut cannot get enough yogurt. It’s currently her favorite food. Basically she gets to eat her favorite food and it comes with the bonus of a banana cake underneath. Her lucky day!

So, here’s the cake and frosting. Take your own liberties and tell me about it in the comments.

Happy birthday to your little ones! And Happy Noshing!


Baby A’s Banana Birthday Cake

2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil

1 1/2 ripe bananas

splash vanilla extract

sprinkle cinnamon

4 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce*

1 egg (see note below for egg allergies**)

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1 cup flour (see note below***)

You’ll make the whole cake in just one bowl (hurray!), so find one that’s medium-large sized. Put the coconut oil in the bowl and microwave just until melted, about 40 seconds. Mash in the bananas with a fork. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, egg and applesauce and mix until blended. Add baking soda and flour and stir to mix. Line a small round baking dish or ramekin with coconut oil. I used this Corningware mug that I also make oatmeal in and it worked perfectly. Bake for 36-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Make sure the cake is fully baked or it will be a huge puddle in the middle (and not in a good way). Let it cool and run a knife around the edge before flipping over and tapping the bottom. It should slide out easily after a few good taps.

Yogurt Frosting

1 cup Greek yogurt

splash of vanilla extract (optional)

This is the easiest frosting in the world. Use plain whole milk greek yogurt, it should be a brand that’s pretty thick in order to hold it’s shape on the cake. I use The Greek Gods or Fage would also be good.

Frosting and decorating the cake:

Place the cake in the middle of a platter or small plate, whatever you want to use for the final presentation. Tear 4″x4″ish pieces of tin foil or parchment paper which will be used as a work surface so you don’t have to clean up the plate after. Slide them under the cake so they’re just barely under the outside edges of cake but covering the plate. Then, after you frost, you can slide them out with all the excess frosting and your plate underneath will be perfectly clean.


I used an icing spatula to slap on the frosting (aka yogurt) and smooth it out. I put scoops on the top of the cake and worked my way down (imagine the lunch lady scooping mashed potatoes on a tray and use that method). Just smooth it out with a light hand so there’s a thin layer covering the whole cake. You don’t want to get too close to the cake, but it doesn’t have to be perfect at all. I used some sprinkles and a single candle to decorate. (Note, these natural sprinkles do have sugar, but they’re dyed with vegetable juices. I just used about a teaspoonful so I’m not overly concerned about the sugar.)

This cake should be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it because it contains eggs and yogurt. It would be the worst if the yogurt melted off the cake. So, maybe put it in an air conditioned car (or your trunk if you live in MN like me) if you’re taking it somewhere.

•••UPDATE ON 6/19•••
To make 1 dozen cupcakes, use the adjustments below. These will be smallish cupcakes, perfect for little hands and stomachs!

2 whole bananas
Add 2 T water with the applesauce
1 full cup flour

Bake 18-25 minutes. The cupcakes should be set when you jiggle the pan and spring back if you lightly touch the tops.

photo 1

* It’s a little harder to find organic unsweetened applesauce, but I think it’s worth it. If you’re trying to avoid giving your little one sugar, it defeats the purpose to use applesauce that has some strange sweetener.

**Use 2 tablsepoons ground flax seed and 4 tablespoons water mixed together if your your baby has an egg allergy

***It’s best to use a mix of flours to keep the cake light. I used a mix of gluten free flours – teff, sorghum and oats ground into a flour (in the coffee grinder). You can also use whole wheat, quinoa flour, almond meal, raw coconut flour (you may need to add water if using coconut). Please leave a comment and let me know what worked…or didn’t.


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‘making more milk’ with la leche league

When I started making lactation cookies, I knew I would talk to Mamas who were struggling with low milk supply.  But I didn’t anticipate how much they would open up to me and the lengthy conversations we would have.  The more I interact, a desire grows to learn more so I can help them.  I’ve learned a lot from my own experience, but I’ve admittedly had a fairly easy time breastfeeding.  We had a rocky start with a few bumps and some scary issues with low supply, but overall nothing medical and I never had to supplement with formula or donor milk.  It’s been amazing and my body is working the way it’s supposed to.  My daughter also picked it up pretty quickly and we got off to a good start.  All in all, we’re a great team.

Many of the Mamas I talk with are in similar situations and I’m able to advise them and pass along some of the things that worked for me to increase my supply.  They need to produce a few more ounces a day to keep up with growing babies, they were sick and their supply took a hit, they need to bulk up supply for an upcoming trip, they’re donating breast milk to another family or any number of reasons to increase supply.  These are things I was familiar with and had a good hunch that I could provide some insight that would help them through the hours, days or even months that they struggles.  Occasionally though, I talked with a Mama who thought she was out of resources.  I knew there were other ways to help and more information she could benefit from…but I didn’t have the knowledge myself.

So, I was ecstatic when Erin at Enlightened Mama told me about the La Leche League of Mn/Dakotas Spring Conference  called ‘Making More Milk’.  Could this have been any more perfect? ! The answer is no.   I’m positive they developed the content specifically with me in mind.  The breasfeeding Gods were smiling down on me!

Leading up to the conference, I was in a normal state of disarray – no babysitter, not enough sleep, running late the morning of, no presentable clothes to wear. Typical.  But, once I pulled it all together and stepped out of the house on the morning of the conference, a rush of excitement came over me.  I was excited to be surrounded by women in the birth and breastfeeding community and have an entire day dedicated to learning.  I was going to soak up everything I could.  By the time I drove across town, I was practically giddy.

I walked in and felt immediately at ease in a room full of women who are comfortable in their own skin.  There was a sense of comeraderie.  Maybe that’s how it always is when lactation counselors/consultants, La Leche League Leaders, nurses, midwives, doulas (I could go on…)  get together.  There’s a palpable energy in the air and they’re anxious to collaborate, share and learn from eachother.  They’re passionate about what they do and the families they serve.  It’s inspiring to be around!

Diana West gave three talks that day.  Her goal was to give everyone 3 more tools than they currently had to address how to ‘make more milk’.  She was amazing!  She commanded the room and her talks were entertaining.  She’s full of knowledge and experience.   I saw more nipple photos than I can count, learned about medical conditions I never knew existed and heard stories that opened my eyes to a whole new world.

I was encouraged to hear Diane say that when she’s working with clients who are struggling with low breast milk supply, the first thing she suggests are natural (ie food) galactogogues.  She recommends them first because there are virtually no side effects.  They also deliver nutritional benefits that postpartum and nursing women need, like iron, fiber, calories and good fat.  In my personal experience (this is Emily talking) I’ve found them to be extremely effective and they start to work almost immediately.  Many Mamas have reported notable increases in pumped breast milk the first day they start eating lactation cookies.  (Back to Diane…) Diane also listed steel cut/old fashioned oats, whole grains and malunggay as natural lactogenic foods.  I didn’t have any expectations, but it was magical to hear Diane mention ‘lactation cookies’ and validate some of the other things I’ve been preaching!

At the end of the day, I got a kick out of was Diane’s talk about communicating with ‘Millennial Moms’.  I am comfortably in that generation, so it was humorous to hear her talk about things that all come natural to me, but that women of other generations may struggle to relate to.  This includes taking your phone to bed (note that I didn’t have to specify ‘cell’ phone because you already knew), using an iPad app to play white noise for your baby at night, preferring to ask a quick question to a facebook group rather that wait 2 days for an appointment with a healthcare provider.  See what I mean?  Good reminder though that these things don’t come naturally to all of our peers or the people we rely on for breastfeeding, parenting, sleep or medical guidance.

Then Chris Clark talked about biological nurturing.  She told a story about trailblazing kangaroo care for her own preemie son.  It reminded me of all the women who have come before us and had the courage to do things they intuitively knew were right even when everyone else acted like they were crazy.

I also gained perspective from LaVonne Moore, a Midwife and IBCLC that serves a population of primarily African-American women.  Her talk was about the impact of birth practices on breastfeeding, and I took away even more about connecting with, respecting and embracing the communities we serve.  It was a good reminder that every person has different experiences and perspectives and to approach everyone with an open mind and heart.

I didn’t want to leave at the end and I didn’t anyone else to go either.  The women I’ve met in the birth community have enriched my life beyond words.  Around every corner, and even at the most unexpected times, I connect with Mamas, Dads, Kiddos, Grandparents…complete strangers, who have some snippet to share about breastfeeding.  It always adds value and brightens my day.  That adds up quickly, and if I can pass on even a little bit of it, it makes me a very happy Mama!

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banana bread oatmeal for a slushy day

It’s April 11 and we’re under a winter storm warning. It was raining, then snowing, then icy, then slushy. And now it’s cold and I can hear the dripping of melting snow falling off the roof and landing on various objects outside. But the birds are chirping. Minnesota weather is so bi-polar!
I had a busy night with swim lessons and then was at the kitchen baking cookies, so I didn’t have time to make oatmeal last night.
On this unseasonably cold morning though, I had a craving for one of my favorite oatmeal recipes: banana bread oatmeal. The smell of warm banana and vanilla make the weather a bit easier to take on somehow.

Banana Bread Oatmeal:
1/2 C rolled oats
2 T quinoa
1 banana, sliced
Handful or walnuts or pecans
1/4 t vanilla extract
Pinch of cinnamon
1 t ground flax or chia seeds optional
Splash of milk (optional, but it makes this recipe extra good)
Dump all the ingredients into a bowl and share half the banana with baby (or at least that’s how it goes at my house). Heat in the microwave for 90 seconds. This oatmeal doesn’t need to soak overnight because there are no steel cut oats or oat groats.

Something about the banana and milk and vanilla all together will make you feel so very warm and cozy!


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Update from my first post:

I heard back from the MN Dept of Agriculture and FDA and have good great news to share.  Mama Nosh got approval to call lactation cookies, ‘lactation cookies’.  Sounds small, but it’s a big deal!  There’s more, too.  I can also use the packaging to tell Mamas that  they “can help boost breast milk supply”.

My response to the MDA/FDA is below.  Thank you all for your words of encouragement and for writing letters in support of Mama Nosh.  [I’ll post the letters, anonymously, in the comments of this post].

Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with information about Mama Nosh lactation cookies and for your time and attention.  I know you’re all extremely busy and appreciate you giving this matter the attention it deserves.

I want to be clear that I am not representing any other company who makes a lactation product. I am simply trying to bring awareness to the fact that these products do exist, do work to boost milk supply in many women and are in growing demand.

The testimonials below were sent to me about Mama Nosh lactation cookies and illustrate this point.

“I pumped 7oz (3 hrs since feeding)!! Way more than normal!!” – Megan, mother to a 3-month-old baby, sent via facbook private message

“I got 11.5oz on Monday (I almost cried I was so excited!) THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!” – Kendra, mother of a 5-month-old baby, sent via facebook private message

To clarify, [a specific question about fenugreek] Mama Nosh lactation cookies do not contain fenugreek. My cookies contain only natural food galactagogues that might typically be consumed anyway – steel cut oats, rolled oats, flax seed, quinoa, brewer’s yeast, coconut oil. These are all gluten-free, mostly organic and are natural foods. There are no herbal supplements or medicines in Mama Nosh lactation cookies. They are perfectly safe for any person to eat (with the exclusion of any person who may have allergies or otherwise should not eat these foods).

As a country and a community, we need to support breastfeeding and the women who are pursuing it. I have met many women who want to breastfeed their babies for 1 year (American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation) or even 2 years and beyond (World Health Organization recommendation), but are not able to for various reasons. Common reasons are a lack of sufficient supply due to returning to work and relying on pumping, medical complications, adoption, dietary issues or a variety of other reasons. In addition to the effect on breast milk supply, Mama Nosh cookies also provide nutritional benefits to nursing mothers. Mayo Clinic and the University of California both provide information about the needs of nursing mothers, which include:

-Intake of an additional 200-500 more calories per day – Mama Nosh cookies contain 220 calories each

-To get these extra calories, opt for nutrient-rich choices, such as a slice of whole-grain bread with a tablespoon (about 16 grams) of peanut butter… – Mama Nosh cookies are made with gluten-free whole grains

-Should eat 2-3 servings of protein per day – Mama Nosh cookies contain 4g of protein each

-Iron also is important for breastfeeding mothers. If you are 18 years of age or younger, you should get 10 milligrams of iron per day. For those over 19, the suggested daily intake is 9 milligrams. – Mama Nosh cookies contain 8% of the iron needs for a 2,000 calorie diet

The use of galactogogues by breastfeeding mothers to increase or initiate breast milk supply has been passed down as traditional wisdom for generations.  I understand there’s not a plethora of medical evidence to support how they work, but there’s no denying the multitudes of lactating women who have experienced increased milk supply as a direct result of eating lactation cookies that contain these galactogogues.  Since there are some women who experience oversupply issues, we would be doing a disservice to breastfeeding women by not informing them of the likely effects on their milk supply from consuming the galactogogues in lactation cookies.  I’ve gathered information from credentialed individuals, like Kelly Bonyata, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, who says,

“a frequently heard recommendation for increasing milk supply is eating a bowl of oatmeal each day…some moms say they see an increase in supply when they eat anything made with oats, including instant oatmeal and oatmeal cookies.”  

These are two of many certified and recognized experts who advise on the use of lactogenic foods.

To further demonstrate the demand for lactation cookies, I’ve attached emails… written to you specifically for the purpose of helping you understand their feelings, which echo those of many other women.

I’d like to address the importance of breastfeeding and impact it has on the health of mothers, babies and our country as a whole.  I understand that not everyone is as interested or informed on this subject as I am, so I’m sharing the information below to shed light on the importance of breastfeeding and how it applies here.

 “The AAP Section on Breastfeeding, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Family Physicians, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, and many other health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life…

Obstacles to initiation and continuation of breast- feeding include insufficient prenatal education about breastfeeding; disruptive hospital policies and practices; inappropriate interruption of breast- feeding; early hospital discharge in some populations; lack of timely routine follow-up care and postpartum home health visits; maternal employment (especially in the absence of workplace facilities and support for breastfeeding); lack of family and broad societal support; media portrayal of bottle feeding as normative; commercial promotion of infant formula through distribution of hospital discharge packs, coupons for free or discounted formula, and some television and general magazine advertising; misinformation; and lack of guidance and encouragement from health care professionals.”

In the same statement, AAP advises those health care professionals to “…Encourage development and approval of govern- mental policies and legislation that are supportive of a mother’s choice to breastfeed.”

I believe the MDA and FDA, as the organizations who oversee regulation of food products intended to support breastfeeding, are directly included in this call to action to support the mother’s choice in breastfeeding.

In January 2011, the Surgeon General released The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding stating“One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself is to breastfeed. However, in the U.S., while 75 percent of mothers start out breastfeeding, only 13 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed at the end of six months. Additionally, rates are significantly lower for African-American infants.”

I find the below section particularly relevant, as Mama Nosh will provide a support community to nursing mothers, by making lactation cookies which can help with milk supply issues and by helping to make breastfeeding a more public and accepted act through marketing and awareness efforts.

“Lactation Problems – Without good support, many women have problems with breastfeeding. Most of these are avoidable if identified and treated early, and need not pose a threat to continued breastfeeding.”

I realize this is a very long email, but this is a complex (and possibly unchartered) topic for the MDA/FDA.   Again, I sincerely appreciate your time, attention and openness throughout this process.  I look forward to hearing back from you.


Emily Baynard


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pb&j day

It’s national peanut butter & jelly day, which makes me want to do a peanutbutterjellytime dance.  PB&J sandwiches have always been a favorite, so I felt it was important to celebrate today.  For dinner, I made a gooey, crunchy, sticky and sweet pb&j&banana sandwich on gluten-free bread and washed it down with a glass of ice cold milk.

But, what I was extra excited about was my PB&J breakfast.  Ever since needing to increase my breast milk supply after going back to work, I eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning.  Oats are a well-known lactogenic food (galactogogue) and provide iron, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and give a fullness that busy breastfeeding Mamas need.  Whole oat groats are the least processed and most nutritious, steel cut oats are next best and then rolled oats.  The instant or quick oats have been steamed and processed and likely contain other ingredients you don’t want.  They’ve lost a lot of their nutritional value and usually taste gluey.

Plus, there’s something about a really hearty bowl of oats that I’ve made the night before and can enjoy in the morning – it’s like my cup of coffee (not in the wake-me-up way, but more the warm-me-up-with-a-big-ole-mug way).


It’s become such an important part of my day that I turned part of our kitchen nook into my oatmeal corner.  Then, everything I need is easily accessible so I can make my oatmeal the night before and even do it with one hand (baby in the other) if needed.  Why at night you ask?  Oat groats and steel cut oats need to be soaked before they can be eaten. (they verge on the crunchy side if not), so I let them hang out overnight.  Lots of people think steel cut oats are a pain, but they’re not!  I just put all my oatmeal ingredients in a bowl, cover them with water from the tap, put a lid on and they’re ready to be heated and eaten in the morning.

To make it even easier, I bought this durable green Corningware mug with a spill-proof lid.  It was less than $10 and well worth the investment.  In the morning, I throw it in my purse/diaper bag/suitcase and warm it up at work.  It’s so easy.

I can definitely tell a difference in my milk supply on the days that I do and don’t eat oatmeal.  Eating oatmeal means more milk to pump!


PB&J Oatmeal:

1/4 C oat groats

1/4 C thick rolled or steel cut oats

1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter (I like crunchy)

1 handful strawberries or raspberries

1 cup water

1/2 t vanilla, brown sugar, maple syrup or coconut sap sugar optional

1 t ground flaxseed or chia seeds optional

Splash of milk (almond, soy, hemp, goat, cow, whichever you like)

Dump all the ingredients in a bowl 1 or 2 nights before.  Cover with a lid and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.  Add more water if needed and heat in the microwave for 90 seconds.  Then you’re ready for peanutbutterjellytime.

Happy noshing!

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one last hurdle for Mama Nosh

As we speak, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the FDA are evaluating whether or not to give Mama Nosh a license to sell lactation cookies based on the validity of claims such as ‘lactation cookie’ and ‘can help boost breast milk supply’.  Since the nature of the cookies involves mothers and babies, it’s a sensitive area, as it should be.  Their concern is that the claims are not backed by scientific evidence and therefore can not be used on the packaging.  It’s true that the current research does not prove unequivocally that food galactogogues will increase milk supply (there’s more information about medicinal and herbal galactogogues than food).  What I do know is that almost every mama that’s tried lactation cookies, has reported an increase in her breast milk supply.  For years, women have been passing this knowledge on to eachother.  I think it would be doing a disservice to NOT label lactation cookies as such.  (To be clear, MDA/FDA are not concerned about the safety of the product, but rather about making claims about the performance of the cookies.  Mama Nosh has taken all other necessary steps to comply with safety/laws/guidelines.)
You and I know how important it is to support eachother and to have breastfeeding resources readily available.  As mothers become more connected, we hear about lots of lactation products in the marketplace (tinctures, teas, supplements, even cookies).  Since the FDA is involved, all of these products could potentially be affected.  I’m learning that breastfeeding/lactation is still new to many people, including the government agencies who are regulating these products.  I’m trying to educate them on what galactogogues are and how they work.  But, I need your help!!
I’m scouring books, the internet and contacts in the birth community to compile research and evidence.  Additionally, I’d like to demonstrate that there are many women who know that lactation products (specifically cookies) work, as well as making clear the demand and desire from the public to be able to purchase these products.  If you’d like to help, please take a couple minutes to write an email to the MN Dept of Agriculture.  They are managing this case and seem to be a reasonable people, so I’m confident that with your help we can educate and help them understand.
I’ll compile your letters along with my research and proposal for alternate wording.
Please send your email to me at mamanoshinfo (at) gmail (dot) com.  Keep in mind the two things they need to know:
a)  Lactation cookies have helped you/someone you know increase breast milk supply
b)  You think lactation cookies should be made available for purchase by the general public and that they should be labeled as such (with things like ‘lactation cookie’ and ‘with ingredients to boost breast milk supply’)
Thank you for your time, support and consideration.  This is time sensitive, so please send emails in the next day or so.  Your email will make a difference and help send a strong message!

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