In Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run, the author briefly discusses an energy drink that the Tarahumara Indians consume before they embark on their ultra-long runs. For those who have not read the book, the Tarahumara Indians are known for being able to run up to 200 miles in one session…..in sandals. You may think that this mystical energy drink is loaded with taurine or Panax ginseng (e.g. Red Bull or Monster); however, the main ingredient is a tiny seed that became famous in the states for another reason.
No, the Tarahumara Indians did not eat Chia pets. Instead, they made an energy drink using chia seeds, called iskiate. Chia seeds are a good source of protein, fiber, omega-3 fats, manganese and phosphorus (good for your bones and teeth). They also have a very low glycemic index and may help stabilize blood sugar levels (when chia seeds are soaked in liquid, they develop a gelatinous coating that helps prevent spikes in blood sugar).
Chia seeds can easily be added to your diet. Try sprinkling the dry seeds onto Greek yogurt, in your cereal or in your salad. Some of my favorite chia seed recipes are:
Mexican Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding:
- 1/3 c. chia seeds
- 1 c. non-dairy milk
- 2 Tbsp. cacao or cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp. raw honey or maple syrup
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- pinch of cayenne (optional)
-Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight for at least 8 hours. Transfer mixture to blender and blend until completely smooth. If pudding is warm from blending, return to refrigerator until chilled.
Chia Breakfast Eggs:
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp of chia seeds (preferably white seeds)
- half a small onion
- handful of baby spinach
- about 2 teaspoons of milk
-Whisk the egg and milk and soak the chia seeds in the mixture for 15 minutes. Chop the onion finely and gently fry in a non stick frypan with a little butter or oil until soft and slightly brown. Add the egg/chia seed/ milk mixture to the pan and stir until set. Add the baby spinach leaves and stir the mixture until leaves are slightly wilted. Season to taste, (great with a little sea salt and ground black pepper).
Chia Seed Smoothie Bowl:
- 1 1/4 c. almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
- 1 c. frozen strawberries
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds (plus more for garnish)
- 1 large handful fresh spinach
-Pour almond milk into blender and top with remaining ingredients. Blend on high until smooth, thick texture is achieved. Pour into a bowl, garnish with chia seeds and enjoy.
And of course, the famous iskiate:
- about 10 oz of water
- 1 Tbsp dry chia seeds
- a few teaspoons lemon or lime juice
- honey or agave nectar, to taste (optional)
-Stir the chia seeds into the water; let them sit for about five minutes. Stir again, and let sit for as long as you like. The more it sits, the more gel-like the seeds and water become. Add citrus juice and sweetener to taste.