My eight year old daughter claims to hate meat. I couldn’t even tell you when her anti-carnivore stage developed because she has had this aversion to red meat for as long as I can remember. Emmalynn will eat chicken but she will turn her nose up at any red meat. Whenever our family eats steak or burgers for dinner, I try to bribe her into trying a small bite. I inevitability fail. The scene typically ends with her in tears instead of tearing into a steak.
As for her diet, my practically vegetarian daughter will drink milk, loves eggs, eats any variety of beans, some nuts but hates peanut butter. She will also eat piles of fruits and vegetables, but turns her nose up at any sort of meat that isn’t shaped like a hot dog or a nugget. To top it all off, she also is a very sloooooow eater and has an aversion to certain textures of foods.
At her last wellness visit, our pediatrician was very concerned about Emmalynn’s slow growth and weight gain. Compared to her last visit, she had dropped below the 25th percentile from the 50th and for a prepubescent girl, that can be lead to some developmental issues.
Since we had already seen her diet causing problems with her ability to focus at school, I decided it was time to make a serious change before it caused any more problems for her. The change in diet started the week of FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test), our state standardized test. As a former educator, I knew the importance of eating a good breakfast on test days, so I planned meals that would offer foods rich in Vitamins A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, anti-oxidants, Omega-3s and most importantly, protein.
Every morning, I prepared some sort of egg dish because I read that eggs provide Vitamin A which is great for the eyes. I also served her smoothies every morning instead of just a bowl of fruit on the side. I experimented with the flavors of smoothies and the right amount of chia seeds to see how my somewhat picking eater and hyperactive daughter would react to the addition of Omega-3s in her diet and the texture of the seeds. Thankfully, the berries masked the seeds of the chia seeds and she drank them quite happily. She even asked for seconds!
In the running and fitness community, I have heard wonderful things about chia seeds, an ancient seed that was once was held in high esteem by both the Mayans and Aztecs for increasing vitality and strength. I’ve read numerous blogs touting the benefits that chia seeds offer in terms of protein, fiber and healing properties.
To quote Christopher McDougal, author of Born to Run,
“In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone. As tiny as those seeds are, they’re superpacked with Omega-3s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber and antioxidants. If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn’t do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home.”
Many doctors, such as David Perlmutter, MD author of the Grain Brain, speak about how bad grains cause cause problems but claim adding chia seeds and fish oils to ones diet can produce amazing results in the brain.
sneaking adding a few tablespoons into her favorite fruit smoothies, I could give her the complete protein and antioxidants her body, especially her brain, needed. We also saw huge changes in her behaviors and overall performance at school. She still requires redirection but at least she is eating properly, thanks to the chia seeds. I think I even noticed a little growth spurt.
Since Mamma Chia sent me two large bags of chia seeds to try, I used these chia seeds to create many varieties of smoothies. This Berry Cherry Black Forest Smoothie was unanimously a favorite flavor with the whole family.
For this particular recipe, I used the Organic Black Chia Seeds to add to the “Black Forest” effect, but you can use whatever chia seeds you have. In addition to the wonderful healing properties, protein and fiber of the chia seeds, this smoothie recipe uses Greek yogurt for another source of protein, plus cocoa powder and maple syrup which also offers healing properties, not to mention all the added antioxidants from the cherries and strawberries. I used frozen cherries because they are not in season yet, but you can certainly use fresh cherries and strawberries too when they are in season by you.
But most importantly, it tastes really good!
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 cup frozen pitted cherries
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, trimmed
- 1 large banana, peeled
- 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 cups ice
- Add all ingredients into blender. Blend on a medium-to high speed until ice is completely blended through and smooth. Pour into a glass and serve.