seed the soul

In pre-Columbian times the Maya and Aztecs revered chia seeds for their amazing energy and natural healing powers. One tablespoon of the seeds was considered capable of sustaining a warrior for 24 hours. A component of both societies diets, the ancient grain played a prominent role in religious ceremonies, too. Today, chia is the force behind the famous long distance runners, the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon. Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family, which grows in North and South America. Consumed as early as 3,000 B.C., chia seeds were eaten as a grain, mixed with water, ground into flour, mixed into medicines, and pressed for omega-3 oil. As anyone who has followed my capricious dietary peregrinations since the start of this site knows, these extraordinary seeds offer a complete nutritional profile of omega-3, balanced dietary fiber, complete protein, antioxidants and minerals – chia really is one of the world’s healthiest whole foods.  Now along comes Mamma Chia, a new all-organic beverage pairing chia seeds, fruit juice, and a light touch of agave. With flavors like Blackberry Hibiscus, Cherry Lime, Raspberry Passion, Coconut Mango, and Pomegranate Mint, it’s official: chia has gone mainstream. Which is a good thing, really, because I’m addicted to the funky viscosity of these little super seeds.

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when citrus meets summer

Hazard a guess as to how many limes it takes to make a single liquid cup of juice? Twenty four. Good thing then that I happened to have on hand a five-pound bag of Persian limes that I didn’t know what to do with. (As someone recently said while noticing the strategically placed Costco satchel in my kitchen: Wow, that’s a lot of limes.) I say good thing because a friend who’s obsessed with all things Food Network just passed on to me the most curious of recipes:  Chia Limeade.  That’s right, chia as in Chia Pet or chia seeds, a nutritional supplement I happen to have gone bonkers for over the course of the past year. Take note: it’s not just for sprouting green fur on the clay cast figurines of poodles and frogs anymore. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the seeds are native to Mexico – Chiapas is named for the seed – and were once used as a form of tribute among the Aztecs due to their high nutritional content. Modern research shows the humble seed also aids the body in slowing down the metabolism of carbohydrates – meaning a spoonful of chia goes a long way in leveling blood sugar spikes as well as hunger pangs. What I never imagined was that it could also make a refreshing summer beverage. Limeade by definition is a proportionate mix of sweet and sour and the addition of chia – which forms a protective gelatinous coating around itself when exposed to water – adds a nice texture of slippery crunch. Bottled it looks curiously like a science experiment. Yet served up over ice in a tall glass muddled with mint leaves, it’s a healthy, tasty addition to the summer repertoire – well worth the effort of juicing your way through two dozen uncooperative limes.

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