In Mexico, chia seeds are often stirred into fruity drinks. When combined with a liquid, the seeds turn gelatinous and add a nice texture to the beverage. Chia was a "superfood" prized by the Aztecs, who took advantage of its protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids (including high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid).
When the seeds absorb enough liquid, the outer layer creates a gelatinous film around the seed. The seeds themselves have a grassy flavor if you crunch them open, but the jellylike coating keeps the seed intact, preventing the hydrated seeds from imparting any flavor to your beverage.
Making chia fresca is the quickest, easiest, and most delicious way to get some of these seeds into your diet.
- 12 ounces cold water
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons sugar (or another sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- Optional garnish: Lemon slice or wedge and/or a sprig of mint
- Optional: Ice
Gather the ingredients.
Pour the water into a tall glass.
Before cutting the lemon, roll it back and forth on the counter while pressing down firmly. Rolling like this for about 10 seconds will help loosen up the juices inside and get the most juice out of your lemon.
Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water.
Stir in the sugar or add sweetener to taste.
Add the chia seeds. Stir the seeds into the lemon water and let it sit for about 10 minutes. During this time, the seeds will absorb the water and become gelatinous. Stir the limonada occasionally if the seeds seem to be floating or falling to the bottom.
To serve the chia fresca, add a slice or wedge of lemon and/or a sprig of mint to the glass for garnish. You can also add ice or place in the refrigerator to chill.
Using Piloncillo as a Sweetener
- If using piloncillo (Mexican raw, pure cane sugar) to add sweetness to this or other beverages, you may want to dissolve it first in boiling water to make a simple syrup. To do so, start with 1 pound of piloncillo and cut it into chunks. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add the chunks of piloncillo. Stir frequently and simmer until the piloncillo has dissolved. Let it cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes over very low heat. Use a spoonful of this syrup as you'd use a spoonful of sugar. Store the rest in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Limonada for Everyone
For a pitcher of chia fresca you'll need:
- 48 ounces cold, fresh drinking water
- 4 large lemons
- 1/4 cup sugar or sweetener of choice
- 2 tablespoons fresh chia seeds
Follow the directions for making one glass, adding ice if you prefer. Garnish with whole mint leaves, if desired.