Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-chia! I never had a Chia Pet, but oh, I wanted one! I am thankful for their comeback into the North American mainstream, this time as a healthy addition to salads, smoothies, desserts and drinks. These little amazing seeds pack a nutritional punch. Chia seeds contains more omega 3 fatty acids than salmon per serving. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 137 calories, 1g of saturated fat, 11g of fibre, 4g of protein, 177 mg of calcium, and 5g of omega-3 fatty acids.
Thousands of years ago, chia seed was a staple in the diets of ancient Mayans and Aztecs. The word chia is derived from the Mayan language, meaning “strength”. It is said, Aztec warriors relied on chia seed to boost energy and increase stamina. Today this tiny seed is a favorite of athletes, especially distance runners, who tout it as an endurance enhancing superfood. Chia is a tiny seed that can soak up to 12X its weight in liquid. They are great for enhancing endurance and for keeping your body hydrated in the heat.
Chia seeds are great fibre for the digestive tract. The mucilaginous quality of chia (similar to flax) is a great addition to your diet to increase fibre intake and aid in digestion. They can really help to keep things moving, and I’ve seen them be very effective with clients experiencing constiptation.
Chia Fresca is a drink you will find in Mexico. It is usually a fruit juice or lemondade with chia added. The soaked seeds don’t add flavour, but they do add a wonderful texture as well as some great nutrients. This delicious drink really surprised me. I loved the idea of it and I knew I would enjoy it, but I was shocked to find my kids drinking it with such gusto!
If you don’t have much experience with these amazing little seeds, you may find the idea of a drink filled with tiny mucilaginous seeds… well, sort of gross. I assure you, it is amazing!!
For this recipe you will need:
8 cups of water
1 cup of fresh mint (a great way to use the mint growing wild in your garden!)
1 English Cucumber, peeled
Juice of 1/2 a lemon, or 1 whole lime
1 tbsp local wildflower honey (optional)
3-4 tbsp chia seeds (according to your preference)
Boil the water, then add the mint and honey (if using). Turn off the heat and let the mint steep until the water is cool.
Peel a cucumber and add it, along with the lemon or lime to a glass pitcher. Once the mint water is cool, pour over the cucumbers and let sit for a few hours.
Once it has cooled, you can either strain the liquid into a glass pitcher and add 3-4 tbsp of chia seeds (make sure to whisk several times in the next few minutes), or you can prepare individual bottles.The first time you make it, start with three tbsp of seeds – I like more, but you may not! I like to use mason jars, add two teaspoons – 1tbsp of chia seeds for 2 cups of liquid. Give it a good shake, several times in the first few minutes to avoid clumps of seeds. These jars can be kept in the fridge for several days. However you do it, wait at least 10 minutes (20 minutes would be better) after adding the seeds so that they have time to plump up.
You really have to get over the weird factor for this one. Those who love chia seeds will be ALL over this. If you haven’t yet discovered the amazingness of chia seeds, you should try them out soon!! I will be posting chia pudding parfaits soon!
Enjoy your chia fresca!