If you’ve read “Born to Run,” you don’t need me to tell you there’s a higher purpose for chia seeds than growing sprout-like “hair” on a clay sculpture of an animal. In the book, Christopher McDougall describes how chia fresca—chia seeds, water, citrus juice and honey—serve as a “home brewed Red Bull” for the Tarahumara, a tribe of natural superathletes in Mexico who routinely run 50 to 100 miles at a time.
And that’s not where the seeds’ alleged super powers stop. Dr. Andrew Weil discusses the myriad health benefits of chia seeds in this Prevention magazine column. A Huffington Post story titled—no joke—”Change Your Life With Chia” rattles off even more healthy, almost miraculous, properties.
What runner wouldn’t be curious? I picked up a pack of chia seeds at Whole Foods, and set out to make me some chia fresca.
The more messageboards I read, the more freaked out I got. One runner after another raved about the delicious drink, which they almost unfailingly described as “slimy” and “gel-like.” Really, runners? Aren’t “slimy” and “delicious” mutually exclusive?
I tried this Chia Fresca recipe from the aforementioned Huffington Post story, whose author describes it as “the perfect before-the-gym endurance drink:”
1 cup spring or filtered water
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
Whisk the chia seeds into the water and allow them to soak for 10-15 minutes.
Stir in lemon or lime juice and agave and whisk well. Drink immediately. Makes 1 serving.
Guys, I tried. I really tried. And I almost vomited from the first sip. The gooey, slimy, chunky texture was just too much for me. I’m sure my opinion would be more favorable had a glass been given to me after 50-mile run through the Mexican desert, but in my kitchen before a swim at a DC pool, it’s a no-go.
But as horrified as I was by chia fresca, I wasn’t going to give up on chia seeds. Weil recommends sprinkling them a salad or mixing them into yogurt, and I tried the latter a few hours before my run on Tuesday.
I masked the seeds, which I was now thoroughly freaked out by, with almonds and Kashi cereal, plus some berries and peaches from this week’s CSA offerings.
I ate it a few hours before my run on Tuesday … and …
The jury’s still out. It tasted perfectly fine, but I’m not sure I felt any pronounced energy boost. My stomach felt a little gurgly during the run, but that likely has more to do with the uber-hilly route and the DC summer heat than the new fuel.
Next up: chia seeds in a smoothie, and chia energy bars, an idea I got from Matt at No Meat Athlete. Matt says he came to try this recipe to avoid the “little globs of chia snot” in chia fresca. Glad I’m not the only one!
Do you use chia seeds? What in the world do you put them in to make them tasty? Is chia fresca an acquired taste (if you tell me you loved it from Day 1, I’ll never touch the stuff again)?