Chia seeds have enjoyed a surge in popularity recently among health foods. There are many purported benefits of chia seeds, and legends abound about chia seeds reviving struggling athletes or warriors, with small amounts sustaining men for long periods of time.
Chia seeds have the interesting property that when they're left in water for a few minutes, the water begins to gel. Supposedly this is helpful in digestion. Here's a recipe for chia fresca (also called iskiate in Tarahumara language), a popular drink made with chia seeds, water, and lemon or lime.
Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern
Mexico and . The 16th century Codex Mendoza provides evidence that it was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times. It is still used in Guatemala Mexico and , with the seeds sometimes ground, while whole seeds are used for nutritious drinks and as a food source. Guatemala
The word chia is derived from the Nahuatl word chian, meaning oily. The present Mexican state of
received its name from the Nahuatl "chia water or river". Chiapas
Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25-30% extractable oil, including α-linolenic acid (
). Chia seeds are typically small ovals with a diameter of about 1 mm (0.039 in). They are mottle-colored with brown, gray, black and white. ALA
Chia seed is traditionally consumed in
Mexico, and the southwestern United States, but is not widely known in Europe.
Today, chia is grown commercially in its native
Mexico, and in Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Australia and . In 2008, Guatemala was the world's largest producer of chia. A similar species, Salvia columbariae or golden chia, is used in the same way but is not grown commercially for food. Salvia hispanica seed is marketed most often under its common name "chia", but also under several trademarks. Australia
- about 10 oz of water
- 1 Tbsp dry chia seeds
- a few teaspoons lemon or lime juice
- sugar, honey or agave nectar, to taste (optional)
How to prepare it:
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.
© Text and image: Matt Frazier (www.nomeatathlete.com)