A recipe by Chelsie Kenyon
Chia seeds are not just for chia pets! In fact, Aztecs used this nutritious seed as an important food source, and Mexicans today continue that practice. One of the most common ways to use chia nowadays is to make a refreshing drink. The basic version of Chia Fresca is delicious, but since most things can be made even better with the addition of fresh lime juice, fresh strawberries, and/or fresh mint, I offer the following simple instructions for an exquisite and extra special naturally-flavored Chia Fresca. (The recipe is for Strawberry Chia Fresca; see notes about the Lime-Mint version below the recipe.)
- Ingredients for one glass:
- 12 ounces (350 ml, about 1.5 cups) fresh drinking water
- 4 fresh strawberries
- 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons of white or brown sugar, piloncillo, or sweetener of your choice
- 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh chia seeds
- 1 wedge of fresh lemon or lime
- Ingredients for a small pitcher:
- 48 ounces (1.4 liters, about 6 cups) fresh drinking water
- 1 pint (2 cups) fresh or frozen strawberries*
- 1/4 cup white or brown sugar, piloncillo, or sweetener of your choice
- 3 tablespoons fresh chia seeds
- one lemon or lime
Note: Room temperature fresh berries will release the most juice. If using frozen strawberries, thaw them first.
Gather the ingredients.
Heat the water to boiling. Add the sugar or piloncillo and stir until it has dissolved. Allow water to cool down considerably before continuing with recipe.
Note: If you are using an artificial sweetener such as Equal or Splenda, you can probably get by with just stirring the powder or drops into the water at room temperature, as these substances tend to dissolve more easily. Start with a little and add until you have achieved the desired degree of sweetness. My own personal sweetener favorite for this purpose is stevia; I use 7 to 10 stevia drops for a single glass of chia fresca.
In a bowl, use a fork to mash the strawberries until they are crushed and juicy.
Pour the berries into the glass or pitcher and use a whisk to incorporate the berries into the water.
Add the chia seed, stir, and let it sit for about 10 minutes. During this time, the strawberry juice will begin to flavor the water and 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.
Add ice or refrigerate your chia fresca to chill it.
Serve your strawberry chia fresca with a lime wedge on the lip of each glass, or with slices of lime (and perhaps a few additional slices of strawberries or a sprig of mint) floating in the pitcher, it you like.
To make Lime-Mint Chia Fresca:
Omit the strawberries. Prepare the sweetened water to taste as explained above, then add a tablespoon of freshly-squeezed Mexican lime juice per each glass of drink you are making. (Tip: Rolling the limes vigorously between the palm of your hand and a hard surface—or microwaving them for 10 seconds or so—before cutting into them will cause more juice to be released from each lime.)
Roll up one or two fresh mint leaves per glass of drink and slice the roll across into 2 millimeter slices. Unravel the sliced mint leaf pieces and drop them into the lime water.
Add the chia seed, stir, let sit for about 10 minutes. During this time, the mint oils will begin to flavor the water and the seeds will absorb the water and become gelatinous.
Refrigerate or add ice and serve (with or without garnishes) as explained above.
Edited by Robin Grose.