Controversial opinion: my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the sides. Sure, turkey is the most iconic dish, but I don't think there's another meal served all year with so much deliciousness packed into the supporting foods. I fill my plate to the brim with sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and at least twelve rolls. I also like that there's a lot of room to be creative with sides, which you can't do as much with turkey (please don't fry your bird, I'm begging). My current side obsession? This potato and fennel recipe that can increase your milk supply.
Breastfeeding moms struggling to have enough milk isn't a new phenomenon, but it can really put a damper on things like Thanksgiving dinner if you're panicking about having enough for your baby to eat. One solution to the lactation shortage problem that moms swear by is by eating galactagogues. In case you hadn't heard, galactagogues are herbs and medications that can increase milk supply, as the American Pregnancy Association explained, and you're probably using them in your recipes all the time without even noticing. Things like oats, nutritional yeast, and green veggies can all help increase lactation, and it's mega easy to add them to your daily diet, as well as your special occasion menus.
You can make galactagogues part of your Thanksgiving dinner in a bunch of ways, but I think incorporating fennel into a recipe would be a fun way to do it. Very Well Family explained that fennel has been used for hundreds of years to help increase milk supply as a result of the estrogen-like elements within the plant, and the fresh taste it brings will definitely be an asset to any Thanksgiving dinner. This Crispy Cream-Braised Potatoes and Fennel recipe, created by Emily C. and shared on food52, is ideal for a galactagogue Thanksgiving side dish.
There are so many reasons I'm excited about this dish. First, the taste. The fennel cooks with the potatoes so the flavor really sinks into the dish, and Emily combines rosemary, thyme, pecorino, and orange zest to give the dish a surprising kick. Second, Mashed potatoes are great, but it's a nice change from the typical starch sides served at Thanksgiving. Plus, the recipe is mostly cooked on stove top (it only needs 3-6 minutes under the broiler, which, be honest, you can totally spare). And finally, the dish is so Thanksgiving appropriate that no one but you even has to know you're serving it to give your milk supply boost; everyone else will just be applauding your mad cooking skills. It's honestly the perfect Thanksgiving addition regardless of if you're breastfeeding or not.
The icing on the potatoes? These bad boys aren't too complicated to make, so you can be on your way to more milk more quickly than your out of town relatives can ask for an extra toothbrush. Head to food52 for the full instructions, but you can check out the ingredients below (they're so pretty that I'm convinced by that alone to make it), so that you can at least add them to whatever last-minute shopping list you've got.
- 3 yukon gold potatoes (about 1.5 pounds)
- 2 fennel bulbs (about 1.5 pounds)
- About 2 to 3 cups of half-and-half or cream, or enough to cover the vegetables
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
- Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
- 3 or 4 large springs of thyme
- 1 large leafy sprig of rosemary,
- Heaping 1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano (or parmesan reggiano)
- Zest from 1 small orange
- Olive oil
On a day totally dedicated to eating, no one should be worried about producing or consuming enough food. Once you and your little one are both full enough for that glorious post-meal nap, and save room for a milk supply boosting dessert.