While I was at the beach a few weeks ago I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. If you haven’t read it and are at all interested in running or just cool stories, I highly recommend it.
The book tells a bunch of different stories – it follows a hidden Mexican tribe of runners, a few people who run super-marathons (100 miles without stopping), and one crazy dude name Caballo Blanco (white horse) who used to be the latter, but is now closer to the former.
I really related to the author in the book because, like him, I enjoy running but I’m just not great at it. I usually run 3-5 miles and then just kind of decide that beer is way more fun than running the next 3-5 miles. The idea of running a marathon, or four in row, is not something I can even picture in my mind.
As you can imagine, if you’re running 60-100 miles at a time, it’s pretty darn important what you fuel your body with. When the author was hanging with the cool Mexican tribe, Tarahumara, they introduced him to a drink called Iskiate which he claimed gave him an immediate boost of energy. Like, he drank some and then ran 10-15 miles. No sweat.
It should go without saying that I had to try this stuff out.
1) Mix water, and lime juice in a small pot until steaming, but not boiling.
2) Stir in chia seeds and stir well so they don't stick together. Add sweetener and continue to stir.
3) Cook for another minute or two, stirring continuously.
4) Chill completely and drink a cup or two of it a few minutes before doing something active.
There are really only 3 ingredients in this drink. It’s dumb simple to make, but the key ingredient is a good dose of chia seeds.
I think Chris McDougall does a great job of summing up the nutritional power of these little guys:
In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone. As tiny as those seeds are, they’re superpacked with omega-3S, omega-6S, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants.
And guess what… they don’t taste that bad to boot!
Here’s a close up shot of those little guys. Unlike flax seeds, your body can digest these whole so there’s no need to grind them up or anything.
Making the Drink
While you could make this drink one cup at a time, I decided to make a larger batch of it and then just store it in the fridge. It’s good for a few days without a problem.
To do this, I added the lime juice and water to a small sauce pan and let it heat up. Once it was steaming (no need to boil it) add in all the chia seeds. Stir them up really well. They might stick together some, but that’s okay.
Add the agave nectar and continue to stir it. If you don’t have agave, you can definitely use honey or sugar. Agave is the real deal though.
Just stir this all together really well for a minute or two and then stick it all in the fridge to cool down.
Once the drink is cool, you’ll notice that most of the seeds have settled and all the seeds are partially dissolved. I don’t know how else to describe it, but as the seeds dissolve, they give the drink a very light slimy texture. I realize that doesn’t sound appetizing, but it’s not heavy at all. That said, I’ve never drank anything like it in my life.
Once it’s chilled there’s no need to serve it with ice or anything. You can just drink it straight. I added some ice to mine though just to keep it really nice and cold.
It’s good to give the drink a stir every once in awhile or all the seeds will settle. You want those seeds!
I did a little unscientific test yesterday to test this drink out. Normally after I cook at the homeless shelter on a Tuesday, I’m pretty spent the rest of the day. I usually try to get in a short run or something, but it’s never a fun experience. I usually just want to go to bed!
Today though, I drank a big glass of Iskiate about 20 minutes before going for a 3 mile jog. It definitely wasn’t like I turned into Superman or anything, but I did feel a lot better! Considering I didn’t eat anything all morning before the run, I had a good amount of energy and when I normally hit a wall (mile 2ish), I just breezed right through it! I definitely felt like I could’ve ran for a few more miles.
Now, of course, this could’ve been 100% psychosomatic. I could’ve felt better running because I thought I was supposed to be feeling better while running.
But who cares? Psychosomatic or not, the run went well! And the drink is actually quite refreshing because of the lime and sugar.
It’s not the most visually appealing drink ever created, but hey, if people run 60 miles and attribute even a fraction of their energy to a simple-to-make drink with three ingredients, you better believe I’m on board with it!