Pre-Race Pinole & Chia Waffles

Hello again!  This is Christine, and this week I have a batch of vegan waffles to satisfy your sweet tooth!  But these aren’t just any waffles: They’re based on the diet of the Tarahumara, a Mexican tribe of superathlete ultramarathoners.

Ok, I’ll admit it, long after Matt’s post on Tarahumara pinole and chia, I’m only half way through Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. But I am already chomping at the bit to give pinole and chia a whirl.  While I’m sure some of the claims are exaggerated, these foods seem like the magic cure for any ailment!

Will Run For Waffles

Heading out for a 48-hour trail run?  Legend has it that a satchel of pinole on the hip is all the Tarahumara require.  Need to bound up this cliff like a mountain goat?  Have a sip of chia gel. Run yourself ragged? Drink a cup of corn gruel.

Of course, a lot of things take on mythical proportions out in the depths of the Sierra Madres.  Can pinole and chia work their magic in my world—not just for an afternoon run, but to fuel the 9-5 grind too?

I developed this recipe for waffles to give pinole and chia a chance in my modern world.  And by “modern,” I mean that anything with the word gruel in it is unacceptable.

Beyond the allure of tribal running hunks, secret villages, and mystery gruels and gels, it all comes down to foods crazy-dense with nutrients and foods lacking in junk.  That is, unless you consider blindingly-strong corn-beer to be junk.

Vegan Pinole-Chia Waffles

  • 3/4 cup medium to finely ground cornmeal or pinole
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup oats, ground
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup hemp milk
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

If starting with cornmeal instead of pinole, toast it lightly in a pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until it is lightly browned and fragrant.  If you are using real pinole, grind in a coffee grinder to make a fine flour.

Preheat waffle iron.

Stir together the cornmeal, chia, ground oats, salt and baking powder.   In a separate bowl, mix together the applesauce, hemp milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.  (The coconut oil needs to be at warm temperature or warmer to mix, so you may need to microwave it to get it to a liquid state.)

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry to combine into a smooth batter.  Spray the waffle iron with baking spray even if it is nonstick, and pour batter into hot iron.  Follow the directions of your waffle iron, or wait until the iron stops steaming.

Carefully remove waffles from iron, respray with cooking spray, and repeat.  This was enough batter to fill my waffle iron 2 and a half times, making 5 small waffles.

To enjoy immediately, top with maple syrup and the fruits of your choice.  Alternatively, slice into bars, freeze and take on your next run.

These pinole-chia waffles were surprisingly delicious!  I was nervous they would be too gritty, but the pinole provides an amazing crunchiness that transform them from “pastry” to “hearty breakfast.”  While I can’t promise that these will propel you up the side of a mountain, I will tell you that Matt is planning on making them for his 50 miler!

I  originally set out to develop a waffle recipe because Caleb and Rita left comments describing vegan waffle tragedies, but now I am on a total pinole and chia kick!  I want to put a Tarahumara spin on everything— any requests for what to try next?  I’d love a good challenge!

See you next Friday!


About the Author: Christine Frazier writes vegan recipes through lots of research, trial, and error … now she is applying the same theory to her other passion, writing stories. Follow along as she deconstructs bestsellers and learns how to write a novel.



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  1. Oo these sound really good- I love the unique combination of ingredients!

  2. Sound delish! May have to give them a try as I have two races in the next six weeks – none like Matt’s though.
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..The Run =-.

  3. Those sound great! Can’t wait to try them. What about a muffin w/ pinole/chia and maybe some goji berries and dates? Just a yummy thought…..

  4. I can’t believe Matt’s run is next weekend! That’s so exciting! And I got my No Meat Athlete T-shirt in the mail today; it’s great! Going to wear it for my 10k this monday 🙂
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Being kind to me =-.

  5. I think a cookie recipe would be great! I am venturing into the world of vegan baking, and am looking around at different possibilities!

    Thanks for the awesome post!

    • Hey Hannah,
      I have several vegan cookie recipes up, but you should definitely check out “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

      Maybe I’ll try out a pinole chia cookie with lots of oats, dates, and nuts. Mmm!

      • Kevin D says:

        Hey Christine, you sound like an adventurous experimenter in the kitchen. Just curious, have you come up with a way to make the Carob Strawberry Chia Energy Bars Matt described in a way that they aren’t so moist and needing freezing? I used fresh dates and frozen strawberries and found the only way to get them more firm is to dehydrate for 7-8 hours. Thanks.

        • Hi Kevin,
          I haven’t tried that recipe yet. I think I would try sprouting the buckwheat and grinding it into a paste, using more dates and fewer strawberries, possibly adding almond meal or ground oats to get a firm dough, and then bake on a low temperature. Looks like another project for me to tackle!
          I’ll keep you updated,

  6. Mary Ellen says:

    Have you tried making bread with either/both? Or maybe a quick bread type recipe: chia banana bread? I can’t wait to try the waffles!

    • Hi Mary Ellen!
      Chia Banana Bread sounds great! I looove banana bread. Wonder if I could throw some pinole and chia into some sort of pita or flatbread recipe too?
      Thanks for the suggestions!

  7. We had these for breakfast this morning. They were super yummy. Love the density of these….and the awesome crunchy texture. Not boring at all! And super DELICIOUS! We will definitely be making these again!

  8. haha “need to bound up this cliff like a mountain goat?” Awesome line.

    I’m totally reading Born to Run too. It’s so nice outside these days though that reading takes a back seat. These totally look incredible though!!! Great recipe!
    .-= Diana @ frontyardfoodie´s last blog ..Pregger Pics Week 26! =-.

  9. This just looks delicious
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..The Best Cereals =-.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    This recipe looks great! I made cornmeal muffins a few weeks ago and was afraid the cornmeal would make the muffins too gritty. It actually worked out really well! I’ve also noticed quite a few people touting chia seeds. I may have to try them out.

    A challenge? Do you know any good vegan key lime pie recipes? With summer right around the corner, I’m beginning to crave summer pies!

    • Hey Elizabeth,
      I have seen Vegan Key Lime recipes; I used to make one for a vegetarian restaurant made with tofu, but I would be interested in experimenting with an avocado-agar combo. Maybe a pinole chia crust? I’ll definitely make that a post this summer!
      Great idea!

  11. Now I’m craving waffles! Yum. For those of us without a waffle iron, could these be turned into pancakes too?
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Feeling like a fraud =-.

    • Hey Sagan,

      Usually waffle batter is a little thinner than pancake batter so that it fills the the squares nicely. I think this batter is actually kind of thick already because they are hearty waffles, so I would just use the same batter without any changes in a greased frying pan. You could pop in some blueberries to the batter too!


  12. Kevin D says:

    These sound great…but where do you get the pinole? I asked in our local Mexican grocery store and got blank stares. Thanks.

  13. Kevin D says:

    Thanks Matt. I actually did try your recipe instructions and made my own and it was pretty good. And it wasn’t too labor intensive but I was going to cost compare to just purchasing it. I tried baking it but need to play with the recipe as it ended up too dry for use on the go. It’s all about experimentation I guess.

  14. Are the chia whole or ground? We are making this as an experiment instead of leaving it to Easter to try. 🙂 I think I need to take them out sooner as they are sticking and getting too dark. They taste great though.

  15. KravRunner says:

    As far as pinole goes, I found a cornmeal that is nearly identical to Tarahumaran meal. The brand is Maseca and its treated with limestone (like the Tarahumara). I toasted some, added cinnamon and organic sugar and went running with it and a small bottle of iskiate. One scoop got me 10.5 miles at about 5:48 per mile and another scoop took me another 8 miles back home (holding the pace). I’m 17 and hadn’t run seriously for about a month, so I am definitely impressed. I also study Krav Maga (the Israeli martial art) and have found pinole a worthy partner for the long, endurance-based workouts. On Maseca, its only about $2.88 for almost five pounds at Walmart. I’m doing another marathon this September, but I’ll definitely be using pinole and iskiate instead of gatorade and energy gels (much cheaper, bettter for you, and obviously much more effective). Have fun, folks, and good luck!

    • Hi, do you mean the Maseca flour that is used to make tortillas? Do you just add the scoop to the iskiate? I can’t find pinole where I live, but Maseca is produced here?

  16. Lauren Yonce says:

    Can you make these as pancakes instead?

  17. Are you using ground chia seeds or not? thanks!

  18. These look so good!

  19. I have been a runner for 7 years and a vegetarian for nearly 5 years. I really like the taste of these waffles, however, I am not finding any extra energy when I eat them before I run. I don’t feel any difference… I am wondering if I did something wrong! Was I supposed to add spices to the cornmeal when I toast it? I will continue to make and eat them, because they truly are delicious!

  20. I’ve been making these and keeping in my freezer, ready to grab and go. I bake them in my Waffle STICK maker, so I can break off a stick as needed! It’s one of my favorite recipes for pre- or mid-run nutrition!!!


  1. […] chia waffles are also a great mid run snack if your stomach can handle it.  I got the recipe from here.  Lately I’ve loved the peanut butter oatmeal balls.  They are a great combination of protein, […]

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