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Vanilla Ensure Chia Pudding (makes 2 servings)

Digestible Dietitian Bites

By Denice Hynd RD, MPH

Recipe and Pictures by Brianda Younggren, MPH 06/01/2022 

As we age, or with decline in motor function, we may fatigue prematurely when we eat. This can lead to reduced oral intake, which in turn can lead to unintentional weight loss, ultimately increasing our risk for malnutrition.

Chewing leafy greens, or steamed vegetables, although they are healthy for us, they offer very little calories – and they take a prolonged time to chew. The purpose of this article is to encourage you to re-think the way you prepare  and consume meals in order to maximize your nutritional intake at each bite. In dietetics, we call this style of eating, fortification, or following a fortified diet.

Goal: to meet or exceed current nutritional needs in the smallest amount of volume to avoid signs and symptoms

of fullness, nausea, and weakness.


  • Sugar free

  • Diet

  • Low calorie

  • Low fat/fat free

  • Water with meals; drink water in between meals



  • Nut butters (almond, peanut, sesame, walnut, cashew, and sunflower seed butter)

  • Jam, jelly, preserves, marmalade, apple and pumpkin butter

  • Hummus made with olive oil, avocado oil, avocado, and guacamole

  • Honey, agave, maple syrup, brown sugar, and molasses

  • Pesto made with olive oil, avocado oil

  • Real butter, cottage cheese, block and sliced cheese, cream cheese

  • Mayonnaise and sour cream

  • Olive, avocado, toasted sesame, and canola oil

  • Creamed soups

  • Sauces and gravies

  • Barbeque sauce, ketchup, ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, thousand islands, oil based-vinaigrette,   tartar sauce, French onion dip prepared with sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt

  • Apple sauce, pudding, overnight-oats, chia pudding, apple-pie filling, cherry-pie and pumpkin pie filling,        canned fruit cocktail in light syrup

  • Sweet potato, white potato

  • Edamame, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, beans, and lentils

  • Sour dough and whole grain bread, buns, rolls, wraps and pitas, white and whole wheat pasta

  • Prepared chicken, tuna, egg, potato, pasta salads; prepared spinach and artichoke dip, 7-layer dips

  • Full-fat yogurt, ice cream, cow’s milk, half and half, heavy whipping cream, Kefir

  • Soy milk (almond, rice, hemp, and oat milk has an insignificant amount of protein)

  • Prepared protein shakes, protein powders

  • Electrolytes during nausea/vomiting (Gatorade, PowerAde, Pedialyte)

  • 100% fruit juice, fresh or frozen bananas



Vanilla Ensure Chia Pudding (makes 2 servings)

Recipe by: Brianda Younggren, MPH









Images Illustrated by: Brianda Younggren, MPH



½ cup vanilla Ensure (or any prepared vanilla protein shake)

½ cup full fat plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup chia seeds

Sliced bananas

Add jazz by sprinkling your favorite spices: apple pie spice, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, almond extract, the

options are endless!


Mix vanilla Ensure, Greek yogurt with chia seeds. Mix well. The chia seeds will thicken the yogurt and

the Ensure into a pudding-like consistency. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least one hour. Top with sliced

bananas, and spices of choice. Enjoy cold!



If the chia pudding is too thick for your likening, add less chia seeds next time, or add more ensure.


Fun Fact:

Did you know chia seeds are a complete protein? They contain all essential amino acids and are

packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Getting our omega-3 properties from a non-marine source such as chia

seeds allows us to skip the concern surrounding mercury intake. Lastly, chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds offer 10 grams of fiber! Aim for 25-35 grams/fiber/day.

Nutritional Considerations for Parkinson’s Disease:

Keep in mind, we also want to focus on drug-nutrient interactions, this means we want to avoid eating 1-hour before and after taking certain PD medication since this will affect medication absorption. Other PD

medications require food with medication intake. Foods rich in protein should be taken separate from L-dopa as this may also interfere with medication absorption.

The recommended medical nutrition therapy for PD is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, high in antioxidants.  Severe neurologic impairment often compromises the mechanisms and cognitive abilities needed for adequate nourishments. A common result is dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Modified food textures are often required for the individual with swallowing challenges.




Why chia seeds?

Chia seeds are high in antioxidants helping us reduce inflammation. Chia seeds naturally gel and coagulate liquids similar to manufactured thickening agents sold in pharmacies. The beauty of chia seeds is that they are a natural thickener, provide fiber, antioxidants, omega 3, and a complete protein!

With decreased fluid, food, and movement constipation may also arise. The fiber naturally found in chia seeds supports gut-motility and promotes healthy gut-function.


Where do I find chia seeds?

Chia seeds are conveniently found at all major stores! Places like Walmart, Target, Food for Less, Safeway,

Kroger, Costco, Grocery Outlet and even some $0.99 stores! Often, they can be found in the baking aisle,

hot cereal aisle, or the vitamin section.

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