December 30, 2009

The Chia Gel

Iskiate is a refreshing energy gel consumed by the Tarahumara (running people) indigenous population in Mexico, and the Aztecs before them. I was fascinated by the description of this chia seed gel from the book Born To Run:

Months later, I'd learn that iskiate is otherwise known as chia fresca--"chilly chia." It's brewed up by dissolving chia seeds in water with a little sugar and a squirt of lime
As tiny as those seeds are, they're superpacked with omega-3S, omega-6S, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants. If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn't do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home.

Okay, so there's probably a bit of hyperbole in there, but nonetheless, I had to try some. Local health food stores like Strawberry Fields and Common Ground Food Coop sell chia seeds (at a hefty price), and they're also available on the internet for a little bit cheaper. The good thing is that a small quantity of seeds goes a long way.

I turned to the internet to figure out how to make it and found the results quite lacking. I ended up using the basic directions on the chia seed packaging I got from TheRawFoodWorld (chia and water only). Then I added sugar and lemon or lime to my liking. Here's a brief instructional video I made.

I tried adding the sugar and lemon/lime both before and after the chia seeds. I think it works a little better adding the chia seeds before the sugar and lemon/lime. I've tried both lemon juice and lime juice for flavoring, and I prefer lemon.

I eat the gel sometimes with breakfast, and I've been eating it from a gel flask during my long weekend trail runs for about 6-8 weeks or so. I'm not sure it's a perfect replacement for traditional energy gels (like Hammer gel), but it's a very good compliment. I've really enjoyed my homemade chia gel during my long runs. It's a lot easier on my stomach than Hammer gel.


Margaret said...

For more information about iskiate, chia seeds, and some recipe ideas, check out my website:

FFF said...

Thanks, Rob! I'm going to mix up a batch, per this "how-to" and see if I can stomach the gel consistency... I like them (chia seeds) in my Wheaties and Yogurt, but get burnt out on both pretty quickly. It will be (potentially) nice to have another alternative!

FFF said...

Follow-Up / Update 4/19

LOVE it! The sugar and lemon juice were great additions...thanks, Rob! Much more palettable than I anticipated. Reminded me somewhat of pomegranate seeds (which I love).

rob said...

Hi Rob,
I like this made with Pomegranate Juice, I like the flavour more than just plain lemon. More ideas and recipes for chia seeds at