Our eldest son recently spent a weekend glued to the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall in which the author explores the world's greatest distance runners and their secrets to success.
There is a passage in Born to Run dedicated to the wonderful power of iskiate - otherwise known as Chia. The author speaks at great length about the nutritional value of chia and its long history as a revered, sacred food in Mexico.
"Chia was once so treasured, the Aztecs used to deliver it to their king in homage.
Aztec runners used to chomp chia seeds as they went into battle and the Hopis [tribe] fueled themselves on chia during their epic runs from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean."--------------
There is a drink described in the book that the runners use - chia fresca - that is made by dissolving chia seeds in water (it creates a viscous jelly) and adding a touch of sugar and lime.
After reading this passage, my son promptly grilled me about chia seeds and then politely requested (or something like that) that we procure some on the double.
Black chia seeds - resemble poppy seeds
Chia fresca is different from anything I've tasted before. It has a very distinctive texture that may not appeal to everyone at first blush. It's slippy and gummy a bit like rubber jelly - but tasty too. I enjoyed it and my son loved it.
For the purposes of this post, I thought I would do something a little more dressed up. This is a wonderful pre or post work-out bar although, if you ask my son, you definitely want to have it before a run to improve your performance (wink). Judging from his results, who am I to argue!
Chia Running Bars
- 2 + 1/2 cups 7 grain flour (you can experiment with different flours or combinations of flour as desired)
- 1/3 cup demerara sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup walnuts, pecans or almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp chia seeds* for topping
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 Tbsp honey
*Chia seeds can be found at most health food stores. They are quite expensive (at least in this part of the world). Flaxseed has a very similar nutritional profile and is much more reasonably priced.
Heat oven to 325 F.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 chia seeds with 1/2 cup of water and allow seeds to soak up moisture to create a paste.
Meanwhile, in a larger bowl, stir together flour, demerara sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, 1/2 cup of the nuts, and cherries.
In a separate bowl, stir together: vanilla, melted butter, chia paste (should be approximately 1/2 cup), ricotta cheese and milk. Add butter mixture to flour mixture and stir gently to combine. If the mixture is overly wet and sticky, add a little bit more flour until desired consistency is achieved.
Place dough onto a floured surface and shape into a long rectangle with your hands - about 4" x 14" similar to a biscotti log. Transfer log to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.
Brush surface of log with honey and then add the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts to the top of the log, sprinkling them over the surface and pressing down gently into the dough with your fingers. Sprinkle remaining Tbsp of chia seeds over top before sliding log into oven.
Bake the log until it is golden brown, about 45-50 minutes (if the surface of the log is becoming overly brown, gently tent the log with foil). Turn oven off and allow log to sit for another 10 minutes in oven. Remove log from oven and allow it to cool further on a rack.
Once cooled, cut the log into bars, with a serrated knife. These will be softer, chewier bars than thrice baked biscotti.
Makes 12-14 bars.
Some photos from the Fall Colours Marathon that our sons participated in over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Our 13-year-old ran in his second 10K event of the year and our 11-year-old tried his hand (feet) in his first ever 5K. They both did a fabulous job! - it was a beautiful day in a gorgeous country setting:
- Congratulations Boys!!