Why Runners Should Love Chia
I love chia seeds. I slip them in my smoothies, use them to replace eggs in my pancakes, sprinkle them on salads. These tiny little seeds (they look like poppy seeds) have enormous nutritional beneﬁts:
- complete protein
- tons of ﬁber
- Omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of ALA)
- plus magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.
Perhaps most important to runners, Omega-3s ﬁght inﬂammation, which means faster recovery for your muscles. The more alkaline in your internal environment, the more quickly your body will repair itself.
Chia dissolves slightly in liquid, creating a gelatinous texture much like tapioca. While you can dissolve chia in your water or Gatorade (a recent study found that a 50/50 ratio of chia and Gatorade was just as effective at keeping distance runners hydrated as 100% Gatorade–meaning less sugar, fewer calories, and more ALAs with the same overall outcome), I like them best in the form of a pudding, which I can eat for breakfast, a snack, or as a recovery booster.
This is my current favorite recipe, dark chocolate ﬂavored, super simple (measure, pour, shake), and teenager approved (“This is the best one yet, Mom!”).
Makes about 4 cups
The order of the steps is important. Chia begins to gel the moment it makes contact with liquid, so if you add the ingredients out of order, you will end up with lumpy chocolate milk. And yes, I know this from experience.
- 2 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
- 3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons maca powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 generous pinch sea salt
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- In a 32 ounce Mason jar, combine milk, cacao powder, agave nectar, maca powder, vanilla extract, and salt. Cover with lid and shake until cacao powder is dissolved.
- Add chia seeds. Replace lid immediately and shake again until the seeds are evenly distributed in the chocolate milk.
- Refrigerate for at least four hours, periodically shaking the mixture to keep seeds distributed.
- Chia seeds are widely available. I buy mine in a large bag at Costco, but you can ﬁnd them at Trader Joeʼs, Whole Foods, and most co-ops.
- I used organic soy milk in my pudding, but any non-dairy milk will work well.
- Substitute regular cocoa powder for raw cacao powder. Or use homemade chocolate syrup, adjusting other ingredients to taste.
- To create an all raw pudding: use homemade cashew or almond milk, raw honey, and the seeds from one vanilla bean to replace the non-dairy milk, agave, and vanilla extract.
- I like this pudding topped with red berries. Bananas and coconut are also delicious additions. Red berries, a dollop of vanilla-scented coconut cream, and a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips or cacao nibs would make this dessert almost company worthy!