No other food has become sexier in the ultra community than chia seeds. I mean, we’ve all read Born to Run. That blend of maize and chia seeds that fuelled the desert ultra runs of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico is enough to make me want to throw out all my protein bars and gels and live the desert life.
For those of you who haven’t read the book, 1. Get with the program and send me a message. I will lend you my copy. 2. let me explain the awesomeness of chia seeds.
Chia seeds are high in protein, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, iron, manganese and phosphorous. As well as being exceptionally nutritious, Chia seeds have a special property which makes them the ideal endurance food. When they are soaked in water, the soluble fibre forms a thick, gel like mass. It is believed that when Chia seeds are eaten, the gel-forming reaction occurs in the stomach, forming a barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar. The net result is that Chia seeds are a super slow release energy source, avoiding the usual blood glucose highs and lows. The other important result of this gel-forming reaction is the retention of water. Chia seeds are exceptionally hydrophilic, able to absorb up to 12 times their weight in water. When in the gut, this means that water loss is minimized and electrolyte balance is maintained for longer.
Basically, they give you ALL THE THINGS.
Last April, when I did the trek in the North Dakota badlands, I took a bag of chia seeds with me and I mixed them into my morning oatmeal for a morning punch in the face.
I also would occasionally mix them with water and eat it as a snack with no flavouring, but to be completely honest, it tasted a bit awful. Desperate times, desperate measures.
However, having returned to civilization, I have a few of my favourite chia recipes to share.
Chia Seed Energy Balls – Great for a pre-run snack
Chocolate Chia Cereal - Fabulous for all the cereal lovers out there. And I know you are there – I’ve read the comments!
And last, but not least, a Chia Seed Energy Gel for when you are on a long run.
1 Tb chia seeds
1 Tb coconut oil
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 Tb honey
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp. cacao powder
1 Tb. tart cherry juice concentrate (optional – to add cherry flavour)
Chia is a great addition to a healthy diet. I love how it helps cut that feeling of constant hunger when you are putting in long training weeks and adds a bit of texture to normal recipes.
What are your favourite chia recipes?
Do you make your own energy gels?