In Mexico, chia seeds are often stirred into fruity drinks where they turn gelatinous and add a nice texture to the beverage. Chia was a prized "superfood" for the Aztecs who took advantage of the seed which contains protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids including high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid. Chia can be used in breads and baked goods as well, but I find that making Chia Fresca is the quickest, easiest and most delicious way to get some chia seeds into your diet.
When the seeds absorb enough liquid, the outer layer creates a gelatinous film around the seed, so you can drink it effortlessly. The seeds themselves have a grassy flavor if you crunch them open, but the gelatinous layer keeps the seed intact so the hydrated seeds impart zero flavor to your beverage. When the seeds outer layer has absorbed enough liquid, it reminds me of a tomato seed with that slippery, outer covering, but on a much smaller scale. Chia seeds are tiny, about a millimeter long and they are a mottled brown and gray.
How to Make Chia Fresca
Ingredients for one glass
- 12 oz cold, fresh drinking water
- 1 large lemon (it should produce about 3 tablespoons of juice)
- 2 teaspoons sugar or sweetener of choice (see below for details)
- one teaspoon fresh chia seed
Ingredients for one pitcher:
- 48 oz cold, fresh drinking water
- 4 large lemons
- 1/4 cup sugar or sweetener of choice (see below for details)
- two tablespoons fresh chia seed
Preparing the Limonda (Lemon-Water) Pour the water into either a glass or a pitcher (depending on how much you are making.) Roll each lemon while pressing firmly, on a sturdy surface such as a counter. Rolling them like this for about ten seconds will help loosen up the juices inside.
Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water. You want about three tablespoons of lemon juice for a single 12 oz. glass, but of course add more or less juice to taste. Stir in the sugar or add sweetener to taste.
Sweeteners If using granulated sugar or piloncillo, you may want to dissolve it in boiling water first to make a simple syrup otherwise it will take a while for it to dissolve in the cold water. Other sweeteners can be used such as artificial ones like Equal or Splenda, start with a small amount, such as a sprinkle and add more to taste. I find that natural Stevia drops offer the best sweetening power without the extra calories. I use 7-10 drops for a single glass, or one dropper full for a pitcher.
Adding the Chia Once you have achieved the sweetness level you prefer, it's time to add the chia. Just stir it into the lemon water and let it sit for about 10 minutes. During this time, the seeds will absorb the water and become gelatinous. You can stir it occasionally if the seeds seem to be floating or falling to the bottom.
Fresh seeds will float throughout the liquid, while older ones tend to sink to the bottom. If they sink, that is fine, you will just need to stir them up a bit to keep them evenly dispersed.
Serving the Chia Fresca I like to add a slice or wedge of lemon to my glass for garnish. You can also slice a lemon and let the slices float on the Chia Fresca in the pitcher. You can also add ice to it to chill it, or keep it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. A sprig of mint can also be added to each glass, or whole mint leaves can be added to the top of the pitcher. Mint is very strong and can be overpowering, so it's best to add it just before serving.