Chia seeds are all over the health blogosphere these days, so much so that I was beginning to think they were a fad superfood. But then Brendan Brazier included them in Thrive Fitness, and with all the research he does for his books and career, I tend to trust ol’ B-squared when it comes to nutrition.
The problem, for me, is that chia gels in liquid. I’ve tried it in chia fresca, or iskiate, and then in some Thrive Fitness sports drinks. And it’s fine; I can tolerate it, but I just don’t really enjoy drinking those little globs of chia snot. So I was really excited to find that Thrive Fitness includes some energy bar recipes with chia, and Erin and I tried one out yesterday while we were snowed in. (You’ll see that the recipe calls for salba, which is white chia, the heirloom variety of chia seed that Brendan recommends.)
As I was gathering the ingredients, I couldn’t resist taking a photo; it’s not often so much nutrition gathers in one place. It’s kind of like a nerdy All-Star game:
Starting from the bottom and going clockwise, that’s white chia, sunflower seeds, raw cacao (substituted for carob powder), dates, toasted buckwheat flour (substituted for soaked or sprouted buckwheat, so mine isn’t quite raw), ground flaxseed, and hemp protein powder in the middle. (By the way, you can get all of this stuff at iHerb.com and get five dollars off your first purchase if you use my coupon code, RAZ652.)
Here’s the recipe.
Carob Strawberry Chia Energy Bar
(from Thrive Fitness, reprinted with permission)
- 1 cup fresh dates (or substitute soaked dried dates)
- 1/4 cup raw carob powder (or substitute roasted carob powder)
- 1/4 cup hemp protein
- 1/4 cup salba (white chia seeds)
- 1/4 cup strawberries
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt to taste
- 1/2 cup sprouted buckwheat (or substitute cooked) (optional)
- 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
Process everything except buckwheat and frozen strawberries in a food processor. After processing, work in buckwheat and frozen strawberries with your hands, then shape and cut.
Brendan gives the warning that the moisture of your dates and berries will vary, so you might need to add more of the dry ingredients or the wet ingredients to get the right texture. We doubled the amount of ground flaxseed to make the mixture easier to work with, and as I wrote above, I toasted some buckwheat flour since I didn’t have whole buckwheat to sprout or cook.
The best part about these bars: They’re completely raw and vegan, and they’re loaded with nutrients and omega-3’s. The worst part: They need to be frozen if you don’t want them to be mushy, so they’re not really suitable for bringing on runs. Once you’ve taken the mixture out of the food processor, you can just put them in a pan lined with parchment paper and freeze it, then cut into bars later.
The flavor is okay—since the point is the nutrition, I don’t really care about the taste as long as it’s minimally palatable. You could probably improve it by adding some agave nectar or cutting back on the hemp protein, but then you’re either adding sugar or losing protein.
Enjoy the snotless chia! Let me know if you come up with any flavor improvements, or a way to give them a firmer texture, unfrozen.
For more posts (and recipes) on natural sports nutrition, check out the Running Fuel page.