There was a time in David’s life when he wasn’t a picky eater. He ate every single thing we put in front of him. Green beans! Butternut squash! Catfish! Tofu!
I’m ashamed to admit I was smug. I gave myself credit for his palate. I had, after all, done everything right.
Then one day David became picky. It’s like he realized he had a choice in the matter, and he chose a life of subsistence on Goldfish crackers, pepperoni pizza, and pickles.
I spend a lot of time trying kid-friendly foods, but he rarely goes for it. He no longer eats the zucchini-carrot-apple muffins I used to make because he doesn’t like “the green parts.”
Mary Virginia is even worse.
I put teeny tiny bits of spinach in their pizza sauce, and Mary Virginia picks it out and wipes it in her napkin. Not a total loss, though, because what a great fine-motor activity, AMIRIGHT?!?
I often make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for my kids’ lunches, and David recently asked me if I would make him a jelly-only sandwich.
I winced. Without the peanut butter, his lunch would be reduced to carbs and sugar and whatever minimal nutrition was left in the fruit from the jelly.
Then I stumbled across this recipe — jam made from fruit and chia seeds. This recipe is around, if you search “Chia seed jam” on Pinterest, you’ll see lots of versions, but I wanted to post it here to share with my mom friends, because I was so excited about this as a healthy, easy lunch substitute for toddlers.
If you’re not familiar with chia seeds, you should be! They’re a easy add-in with lots of stuff like protein, omega-3 fats, fiber, antioxidants. You can read more about their benefits, uses, and even how to grow them yourself in this article.
Here’s how you do it.
For the full recipe scroll to the bottom of the post.
Start with fruit. I used strawberries because I happened to have a bunch of frozen strawberries in the freezer. Fresh and frozen fruit render the same results. If you use frozen, let it thaw first.
Next, measure two tablespoons of chia seeds, add two tablespoons of water, and mix it up really well. Let that sit for about five minutes.
While you’re waiting, read this article on the health benefits of chia and daydream about your child absorbing actual vitamins and minerals for the first time since you weaned him three years ago.
The chia and water comes together and makes a jelly-like substance. I stirred it up so you could see.
Next, plop it all in the blender.
Blend it until it’s smooth, and this is the result.
Confession: I didn’t blend this in the kitchen. Mary Virginia and Thomas were sleeping and I was worried the blender would wake them up, so I staged the photos, then took the blender into my bathroom and blended it there. #momlife
Taste it and see what you think. Every other recipe I found included some sort of added sugar — maple syrup, honey, agave. I didn’t add any sugar because that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid. My kids get plenty of sugar in their daily bowl of marshmallows. Instead, I added a pinch of salt because salt magically balances the sweetness of the strawberries.
However, if you want sweeter jam, just add some sugar.
Then pour it in a trendy Mason jar, and pat yourself on the back for your mom-genuity.
Next, the real test. I made a sandwich and gave it to David.
Look, David! A jelly-only sandwich! Just like you dreamed of! I gave it to him and tried to not make eye contact. (Except that I stuck my camera in his face, I suppose.)
Guess what? He loved it.
Recently David started asking me if foods are healthy or not. It’s actually really hard to answer. First, because there are a surprising number of ambiguous foods. Tell me, are pickles healthy? What about pretzels? My best answer is…sort of? They’re sort of neutral, right? Not really healthy or unhealthy. Plus, I’m probably over-thinking this, but I’m careful because I don’t want to label foods “good” or “bad.” Birthday cake isn’t healthy, but I don’t want my kid thinking it’s bad.
Instead of telling him if things are healthy, I tell him about the nutritional value. Mommy, are these noodles healthy? Well, David, noodles have lots of carbohydrates that give you energy to run and play.
Stuff like that.
But I love when I don’t have to hesitate. Mommy, is this jam healthy? Totally, David. It’s super-duper healthy because it it’s made with strawberries and chia seeds so it’s full of Vitamin C, fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, manganese…
Kids love that sort of conversation.
Chia seed jam
– 2 cups fruit (frozen or fresh; I used frozen strawberries)
– 2 Tbsp chia seeds
– 2 Tbsp water
– 1 tsp salt
Measure chia seeds in a bowl. Add water and mix. Let sit for five minutes; mixture will become gelatinous.
Add fruit, chia seed mixture, and salt to a blender. Blend well, until ingredients are smooth.
Add a bit of honey or maple syrup if you’d like sweeter jam. Otherwise the jam is done and ready to eat.
This will keep in the fridge for about two weeks. You can also freeze it in an air-tight container.