“Mommmmm!” Amalia’s voice issued from the sunporch-cum-temporary kitchen one day earlier this week, in an untempered, raggedy wail. In the living room, I dropped what I was doing (laundry, of course) and ran to her. What was it? An injury? A slip-up with a sharp knife? An intruder? A rabid rat threatening her? A just-now-discovered, vast and enigmatical puddle of blood?
Something even worse?
I found my daughter standing, arms hanging limp at her sides, in front of Steve, our refrigerator. The freezer door was hanging open, and dismay was frozen (no pun intended) on Amalia’s pretty, flushed face. She turned to me and whimpered piteously . .
“We are out of chia seeds!”
Oh. Okay. Alrighty, then. I took a deep breath, willing my blood pressure back down to normal levels. I breathed a sigh of semi-relief. It was a bit of a setback to have run out of chia seeds, it’s true, but all things considered . . . I was relieved that a sudden trip to the emergency room was not forthcoming. Been there, done that.
Many times, as a matter of fact.
“Honey. They sell chia seeds at the store,” I said in an encouraging tone, quickly glancing at my daughter, hoping to avoid a major meltdown. “We’ll put them on our list! We could even go get some right now!” I grabbed a pen off the counter and, one eye on my potentially-volatile daughter, I jotted “chia” down on the grocery list.
“See? It’s on the list. Shall we go?” I asked.
It is show week, and we are all wound a bit tight. That very morning, for example, I had gone back to bed in tears when Timothy had dared utter a simple criticism of our show. It was a criticism that would propel me to make some changes which I knew would result in a better show. But still. I knew, from experience, that this was going to be a tough week. Our fourteenth annual melodrama that we would direct and produce would open in just a few days. For a change, we were putting on four shows in three days, an ambitious departure from our usual two shows.
The house was littered with costumes and props; everything was a bit topsy-turvy, and we were all more than tired.
Emotions were raw.
And now, this: icing on the proverbial cake of difficulties: we had run out of chia seeds.
How, oh how could I have let this happen? 🙁 No clue.
We needed every possible weapon in our good health arsenal, this week of all weeks: lots of good fresh veg and fruit, fermented foods, kombucha, daily exercise and vitamin D supplements, lots of fresh water, natch’, and . . of course . . . chia seeds.
I first was introduced to chia seeds years ago when I read this fabulous book on running, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
I’ve been a runner all my life, although various injuries have kept me from doing as much running, alas, as I’d have liked for the past couple of years. It’s as if my body (my joints, in particular) is saying “Enough. Enough with all the ridiculous running, already!” I miss it heartily. But reading this book about the amazing distance runners, the Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyon area in Mexico, was inspiring and exciting. The author, Christopher McDougall, also an injury-plagued middle-aged (cough) runner, traveled to that area in Mexico to study how these hardy folks can run hundreds of miles without tiring or injury.
Um, yeah, that’s not a typo: hundreds of miles at a stretch.
What he found—well, you’ll have to just read the book (or listen to it while running/walking, that’s what I love to do)–at least, one of the things he found, is that the runners actually keep handfuls of chia seeds in their pockets for fuel.
Yup. Tiny dinky chia seeds, in large part, fuel these runners.
Back when I read this book the first time, many years ago, I hadn’t even heard of chia seeds, and I had to search a bit to find them: I ordered them from Azure Standard, I think, a natural foods coop. I started soaking them overnight, and putting them into our green smoothies.
And why not? After all, they pack quite a nutritional punch. Today, you can find them at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, so I guess they are basically mainstream now. You can buy them on Amazon, from Mountain Rose Herbs, and from any health food store, too. They are pretty fascinating little seeds, from a dietary aspect.
Here’s something new I recently learned: chia seeds are harvested from a flowering plant in the mint family known as Salvia hispanica, which is native to parts of Mexico and Guatemala. Being a relative of mint, I’m guessing that it’s probably extremely easy to grow (most mint types grow like weeds and are actually pretty invasive). I’m really tempted to plant a few seeds this summer in an out-of-the-way spot on our place, just to see. 🙂
I love a good garden experiment, don’t you? It definitely adds interest to my gardening to pick out something new–or several somethings–to grow, just for fun. 🙂
Here’s something else you might not know: chia seeds have become a commercially popular health food in only the last decade or so, but they’re actually a very old dietary staple of Mayan and Aztec diets. These tiny seeds can expand to hold up to 10 times their dry weight in liquid, and when they do so, they swell into gel-like globules not unlike miniature tapioca balls.
In fact, when I took a chia seed fruit juice beverage that I made recently to my folks to try, they both guessed that I had put tapioca in it.
There are lots of great reasons to–if not carry handfuls in your pocket–at least incorporate chia seeds into your daily diet. These diminutive seeds are:
- rich in B vitamins
- a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber
- a rich source of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc
- a good source of protein
- rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
- loaded with anti-oxidants
To get these teensy nutritional powerhouses into your body, you can:
- stir them into smoothies or other drinks
- add them to your breakfast granola or cereals
- bake them into energy bars
- stir them into your breakfast yogurt
- cook them into tortillas
- bake them into bread
- carry them in your pocket for a quick source of energy while running 🙂
- make them into a pudding (not unlike tapioca pudding, Mom!)
Or! You can make chia seed fruit juices, which is what we’ve been doing at our house. These drinks that we’ve been making–they are the best-thing-ever, excepting brand new babies and the first teensy lettuce leaves of early spring, you know, but of course that goes without saying. Or noting.
Unnecessarily, as I just did.
One more chia-seed-related anecdote, and then I’ll cut to the chase and get on with this recipe.
Oh, Gentle Reader. Picture this scenario: the kids and I were in St. Louis this summer, becoming acquainted with the adorable and utter-perfection-and-unspeakable-beauty-in-new-babe-form-Wesley, and offering a bit of love and support to Matthew and Rachel and big brother Emmett. It was a lovely week, though fraught with a bit of tension for me, since I’m a bit of a chicken about driving in big cities. Well. We made it through the week without my killing us all, due mostly to Amalia’s excellent and cool-headed navigating (hint to those learning how to drive in big cities the hard way, i.e. by just doing it, get yourself an excellent and cool-headed navigator, stat).
What on earth, you may be wondering, does all this have to do with chia seeds, and well done, you, for asking, too. I’m getting to that part.
So the kids and I went for a grocery run, early in the week, and Amalia was tossing things into the cart with wild and reckless abandon
as is her wont in a carefree manner, and she plucked a couple of small bottles from the cooler. Acquainted as she was with my hardfisted tightwaddery budget-minded grocery habits, she strategically stood between the cart and the price tags. Savvy move, daught . . .
“Let’s treat ourselves, Mom,” she said. “Let’s try these–don’t they look yummy?” I studied the bottles. Hmm. Fruit juice with chia seeds in suspension, it seemed. They looked . . . intriguing, to be sure.
So we bought a couple of the dainty-sized bottles, against my usual habit. I mean, really: chia seeds. Fruit juice, in a smallish bottle (10 ounces) for nearly $4.00. Not my usual spending mien.
But we popped them open, and drank those puppies down toute suite. They were really delightfully delicious, and I loved the feel of the chia seeds in my mouth. Immediately we started scheming on how we would make them ourselves, once we got home. We were addicted (after only one!) but there’s no way that I was going to buy many of them at that price. Or, any more.
Happily. You can make exactly the same thing yourself, at home, very easily. We’ve been experimenting and here’s the recipe that we came up with:
Chia Seed Fruit Juice Bevvie
Stir 3 Tablespoons of chia seeds into 1 cup of warm water. The seeds will swell and you will end up with 2 cups of chia gel in a few hours. Cover and let sit in your refrigerator overnight.
Next day, take 1 cup of the chia gel and mix with 1 cup of your favorite fruit juice or fruit juice blend. Stir until all the seeds are swishy and suspended in the juice. (Makes 2 glasses of chia bevvie)
In this particular bevvie pictured, I used about a half cup of pomegranate juice, and a couple of Tablespoons of concentrated frozen orange juice and it was yummy. The kids were scrabbling all over me for sips. We nearly came to fisticuffs over it. 😉
Back, kids—-back! Make your own!
Oh I guess, one more thing . . . I just can’t stop today! If you don’t have any chia seeds at your place and you can wait a day or two to make your own chia seed fruit juice bevvie, consider ordering it from this link:
(And thank you!)
You can add nearly anything to these chia seeds, by the way. They don’t have a lot of taste, so any of your favorite beverages are fodder for this recipe. Consider adding the soaked-overnight-chia-seed-suspension to:
- coconut water and fruit juice combination
- coconut water
- citrus juice, with the peel blended in
- iced coffee
- ginger beer or ginger ale
- your favorite smoothie recipe
Shoot, really, the sky’s the limit. Now that you are aware of how easy this is.
Viva la awareness! Have a great day, Gentle Reader. Share this post, if ya wanna.
I’ll love ya forever, if ya do. And actually–even if ya don’t. 🙂
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