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​Forbes recently published an article about ultra-processed foods in March, 2024, stating, “Ultra-processed food is not just killing us, it’s making us sicker, fatter and more miserable. A British Medical Journal study examined evidence from 2009 to 2023 and found that eating more ultra-processed food—ostensibly junk food— leads to a 50% increase in cardiovascular death and a 12% jump in Type 2 diabetes.”

When they say ultra-processed it leaves room for confusion, as if some processed foods are ok. I intend to teach kids how to use simple ingredients and make their own food, using something like this basic recipe. 

We will continue to discuss ultra-processed foods, let’s start with refined carbohydrates. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.  Freedom Kitchen classes focus on getting essential fatty acids, essential protein, and fiber. As someone who has struggled with high blood sugar and does better on a low-carb diet, I know first-hand the impact of too many carbs.

Surprising Amount of Protein in Chia Seeds 

Chia seeds are a surprisingly good source of protein, especially considering they are tiny little seeds. In just one ounce (about 28 grams) of chia seeds, you can find approximately 4.7 grams of protein. This amount may vary slightly depending on the specific variety and brand of chia seeds.

As for kids, protein is an essential nutrient that plays numerous critical roles in their growth, development, and overall health:

  1. Growth and Development: Protein is essential for the growth and development of children, especially during infancy, childhood, and adolescence when they are undergoing rapid physical growth. Adequate protein intake supports the formation of new tissues, including muscles, bones, skin, hair, and organs. It provides the necessary building blocks (amino acids) for the synthesis of proteins required for tissue repair, maintenance, and growth.
  2. Muscle Health: Protein is vital for maintaining and repairing muscle tissue. Children need protein to support muscle development, strength, and function. Whether they are engaging in physical activities, sports, or simply growing, sufficient protein intake helps ensure that their muscles can repair and grow optimally in response to stress or injury.
  3. Immune Function: Protein plays a crucial role in supporting a healthy immune system. Many components of the immune system, including antibodies and immune cells, are made up of proteins. Adequate protein intake helps support the production and function of these immune system components, helping children defend against infections and illnesses.
  4. Energy and Satiety: Protein-rich foods tend to be more satiating than foods high in carbohydrates or fats. Including protein in meals and snacks helps children feel fuller for longer periods, which can help regulate appetite, prevent overeating, and support healthy weight management.
  5. Brain Function: Protein is essential for the health of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that facilitate communication between nerve cells in the brain. Adequate protein intake supports optimal brain function, cognitive development, and learning abilities in children.

Healthy Fats Needed for Brain Development

Healthy fats play a crucial role in supporting brain health in several ways and when I ask the kids in class how many of them are eating salmon or sardines I get a lot of head shaking and icky faces. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are critical for brain development, neurotransmitter function, anti-inflammatory effects, and neuroprotection. Including sources of healthy fats such as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil in your diet can support cognitive function, mood regulation, and overall brain health throughout life.  

While gram for gram fatty fish would be better for EPA and DHA, the health benefits of chia seeds is undeniable.  Let’s look at how they can help our brain:

  1. Structural Component: The brain is primarily composed of fat, with about 60% of its dry weight being lipid (fat). Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are key components of the cell membranes in the brain. These fatty acids help maintain the integrity and fluidity of cell membranes, which is essential for proper neuronal function and communication. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are highly concentrated in the brain and are vital for brain development and function throughout life.
  2. Neurotransmitter Function: Fats are involved in the synthesis and function of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that facilitate communication between brain cells (neurons). For example, omega-3 fatty acids are precursors to neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which play important roles in mood regulation, memory, and cognitive function. Adequate levels of these fatty acids are necessary to support optimal neurotransmitter function and mental well-being.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Certain fats, especially those found in fish oil and nuts, possess anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming healthy fats can help reduce inflammation in the brain and protect against these conditions, promoting long-term brain health and cognitive function.
  4. Neuroprotection: Healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been shown to have neuroprotective effects. DHA, in particular, is crucial for the maintenance of neuronal structure and function and has been associated with improved cognitive function, memory, and learning ability. Studies suggest that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against age-related cognitive decline, improve cognitive performance, and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Low-Carb Health

Since there are no essential carbohydrates I teach the kids about the impact of total carbs on their blood sugar.  In our chia seed pudding recipe, they read the labels to see that there are naturally occurring carbohydrates, especially when making a berry chia pudding. 

Eating a low-carb diet can offer several potential benefits for overall health and well-being. While they may not need to eat a ketogenic diet it is important to know why to limit the grams of carbs consumed every day.  Here are 3 valid reasons to limit carbohydrate intake:

  1. Improved Blood Sugar Control:  By minimizing the intake of carbohydrates, especially refined sugars and starches, blood sugar levels can be better controlled and stabilized throughout the day. 
  2. Enhanced Mental Clarity and Focus: Some people report experiencing improved mental clarity, focus, and cognitive function when following low carb diets, particularly during periods of ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body switches from using glucose as its primary fuel source to using ketones, which are produced from fat breakdown. 
  3. Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Low-carb diets have been associated with a reduced risk of various chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancer. 

Chia Seed Pudding

In the recipe card you will find the simple steps using basic ingredients. The basis of this low card chia seed pudding is just chia seeds and milk, with a touch of vanilla extract and salt. This can be put in a mason jar and allowed to thicken overnight.  While this can be made with any type of milk, we used unsweetened almond milk in cooking class.  I prefer to teach the kids about various non-dairy milk because the purpose of Freedom Kitchen Kids is to teach them options.  Personally, I like full-fat coconut milk, as I need the extra fat.  I will even add some egg to mine for more protein and fat as I do best on a keto diet. 

Other ideas include mixing in peanut butter or almond butter, or making chocolate chia pudding by adding some unsweetened cocoa powder.  A great option is to make a chocolate pudding with chocolate chips and some peanut butter for a peanut butter cup flavor. Chia pudding can be rather boring for kids so adding fresh fruit, fruit jam and a little maple syrup helps a lot.  We made parfaits layering chia seed pudding, with strawberry jam, homemade muesli, and baked granola.

This can be an easy breakfast or a healthy dessert and is can be done as part of your weekly meal prep. 

I will wrap this up saying that carb addiction is real and my classes often require weening people off of sugar and increasing their grams of fiber, fat, and protein. Since this has been my personal experience I am very passionate about empowering the kids with better nutritional information. 

Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seed pudding parfaits
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4


  • Mason jar
  • Refrigerator


Chia Pudding

  • 2 1/2 C Almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk
  • 3 T Maple syrup or honey, optional
  • ½ t Vanilla
  • c Chia seeds
  • Pinch salt

Baked Granola

  • 3 c Baked Granola


Make Chia Seed Pudding, in advance

  • The easiest and healthiest pudding you can make!
  • Just add all the ingredients to a mason jar, shake well, then refrigerate until it thickens.

Make Berry Jam, and refrigerate

    Make the Baked Granola, let cool

      Put Parfaits Together

      • In parfait glasses (or even plastic cups), layer chia seed pudding, berry jam, baked granola, then repeat, chia seed pudding, berry jam, and baked granola.


      Serving: 1cupsCalories: 1358kcalCarbohydrates: 248gProtein: 19gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.04gSodium: 314mgPotassium: 839mgFiber: 21gSugar: 151gVitamin A: 33IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 503mgIron: 7mg

      Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

      Additional Info

      Course: Breakfast
      Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

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      About Lisa Jendza

      Cooking is the competitive advantage for your child. As a former IT Consultant turned health coach my classes are an experiential process to teach critical thinking. The courage, confidence and creativity derived from my classes will impact all areas of their life. Freedom begins and ends in the kitchen.