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food is caring, food is love

Recipe: chia seed drink

We patiently waited for the snow and got our exercise with the usual uphill skis and laps around the limited Nordic trails this last week. While we might normally bring Neva with us on these activities, the uphill traffic has been rather high and the designated dog-friendly Nordic trails haven’t had enough snow to remain open. So little Neva has been getting her daily fetch sessions or bike rides, which she loves all the same. Still, we can’t help but feel that she has also been skunked on what should have been a snow-filled winter break.

found neva staring at the clock one night – thinking existential thoughts?

But finally, a much-needed storm arrived in Colorado and it delivered nearly double the forecast amount in Crested Butte. We watched the clouds pour into our little valley on Saturday afternoon and soon the white flakes followed. It snowed all night and when we woke up early Sunday morning, the skies were clearing and the mountain had received 11 inches in total from the storm. Time to rev up the snow blower and chuck the powder skis into the car.

this is what we want to see in winter

jeremy floats through the magical, fluffy powder

We drove back home to the Front Range today, ready to resume normal life. And by calling it normal life, I do not mean to imply that Crested Butte is vacation life. Crested Butte is more of a working vacation. The only reason we can spend as much time as we do in Crested Butte is because of the internet. Normal life is non-holiday life. The lead up to the holidays runs us completely ragged and so it’s no wonder that we spend the actual holidays mostly in hermit mode. After baking and shipping or delivering all of those cookies and candies, I thought I never wanted to see another cookie again. I was wrong.

Anita had mailed a box of Totoro linzer cookies and a sweet thank you note from her daughter for the quilt I made. I opened it in the car as we traveled west, deeper into the mountains. Neva’s nose was suddenly at my left ear, sniffing the contents of the box. There is something about homemade food that reminds me of my childhood. It stirs up that warmth in your heart when you feel loved and cared for – like when Grandma gave me a bowl of her Chinese noodle soup after pre-school or when Mom cooked my favorite meal for my birthday. Anita’s cookies were enough to make my day, but as we pulled into our neighborhood in Crested Butte, there was a package waiting in our mailbox from Jennie, filled with delectable spiced treats from her kitchen. I couldn’t stop smiling. My beautiful friends had reached across the country from opposite coasts to wrap me in a hug.

the cutest totoro linzer cookies

a tin filled with love

I don’t typically spend a lot of time cooking or baking in Crested Butte. I do enough of that at home. But lately I’ve been making an exception. Last summer, my friend asked for help with dog walking duties. Not her dogs, but someone else’s dog. Duke is a sweet, gentle ten year old black lab whose person was adjusting to life without legs. OF COURSE I volunteered to walk Duke, but it was infrequent because we don’t live in Crested Butte full-time. Still, I figured any little bit helped. Over Thanksgiving, my friend was away on travel, so she sent me a link to Duke’s schedule. For some reason I had naively assumed it was all about Duke, but what I found was a community of volunteers signing up to walk Duke, bring dinner to Duke’s person, and drive Duke’s person to medical appointments. I had not realized just how much help Duke’s person needed, because he never asked.

So I volunteered to bring dinner, because that seemed to be what most people didn’t sign up for and it’s something I am actually good at. Duke’s person was pretty excited about the meals, and I was grateful to have the opportunity to help. I consider the making of food to be an act of caring and love. We feed people in celebration, we feed the grief-stricken, we feed those in need, we feed to soothe and heal. My dear Tara commented on Instagram “I believe, in the Jewish tradition, we’re supposed to be thankful to those who are in need, because they allow us to experience the joy of giving.” I wasn’t familiar with this, but I liked it very much.

rice, indian lentil soup, thai tofu curry, some sugar plums for christmas

cooking potatoes in spices

I try hard to accommodate dietary restrictions. Several of my friends have Celiac disease, some have nut allergies, others like myself, are lactose intolerant. Duke’s person was easy by comparison: flexitarian (eats chicken and fish) and low sugar. The hard part was sourcing ingredients in a small mountain town, but I’m getting better at it. Now that I’m home, I can plan ahead for the next trip to Crested Butte and bring the hard-to-find ingredients to make more interesting dishes. The other nice thing about being home is resuming a more normal pattern of eating. Earlier last year, I incorporated a new (to me) source of non-dairy calcium in this almond vanilla chia seed pudding. Over the summer, I decided to get my chia seed fix in beverage form.

white and black chia seeds

Some folks have issues with the texture and consistency of chia seed pudding, but they may find it easier to enjoy chia seeds in a more dilute medium. You’ve probably seen some bottled chia seed drinks in grocery stores. I tried my first chia seed kombucha last spring and rather loved it, which got my hamster wheels spinning. It’s easy enough to make your own chia seed gel – just add water and let sit. The gel can store up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

stir water into the seeds

the chia seeds gel in as little as 10 minutes

The gel can be mixed into a drink for an added boost of calcium. Use as much or as little as you like. Stir it into almond milk or soy milk, juice, kombucha, iced tea, whatever. I especially like the hydrating property of chia seed gel. I like to drink a glass of half water, half juice with several spoonfuls of chia seed gel before a trail run, hike, skate ski, or backcountry ski. Here are some of the ways I like to get my chia seed fix.

lemon, limes, lemonade, iced tea, kombucha, seltzer, simple syrup, raspberry syrup, chia seeds

chia seeds and gingerberry kombucha


half unsweetened iced tea and half lemonade

a dash of raspberry syrup

chia seeds


lemon and lime juice

a little simple syrup

top it off with seltzer and add chia seeds

fruity, fizzy, kombucha-y

Make it however you like. It’s quick, easy, and doesn’t require a blender. I keep a container of chia seed gel in my refrigerator at all times so I can stir some into a drink each morning, before and after a workout, or with a meal. A chia drink is far easier to consume than a chia seed pudding if you dislike the texture, but will still deliver all of the nutrients, calcium, and hydrating properties. So if you haven’t tried it, try it. You may like it. Heck, you might even love it.

get your chia on

Chia Seed Drink
[print recipe]

chia seed gel
1/4 cup (4 tbsps) chia seeds, white or black
1 cup water

drink ideas
arnold palmer (half iced tea, half lemonade)
sparkling (sparkling water, simple syrup, citrus juice)
fruit juice

Make the chia seed gel: Stir the chia seeds and the water together and let sit from 10 minutes to overnight. The chia seeds will absorb the water and a gel will coat each seed. You can store this covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Make your chia seed drink: Prepare your beverage and stir in as much of the chia seed gel as you like. Serve.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

almond vanilla chia seed pudding cranberry hazelnut seed crisps lemon poppy seed cake jicama pepita garbanzo salad

10 nibbles at “food is caring, food is love”

  1. angelitacarmelita says:

    I LOVE IT (them). I have been into chia seeds for years now, and put it in lots of foods and beverages. I’ve even got lots of my co-workers using them as well, they’ll look at my drinks or yogurt and ask “what’s in that?” When I travel, I even carry a jar w/me, as I find that I feel better when I consume them every day. Although I didn’t think to hydrate them in advance, or know they’d keep for 5 days in the frig. BONUS! Thank you Jen!

  2. Kristin says:

    I tried the pudding, and it wasn’t for me. Thanks for this new possibility! I love how thoughtfully you are cooking for Duke’s person. I’ve backed off on one volunteer gig, and have been meaning to call about volunteering at a local food kitchen, because I love feeding people. The girl child is back to grad school next week, so I guess it is time to call!

  3. Melissa says:

    I love this. That is so awesome that you are cooking for him. Sorry to wander off about me here but… I was just talking to Steve about that subject this week. I saw a random article about what you can do to help people during tough times and it mentioned things like cleaning and cooking for them. It made me think about how when my good friend Vicki was dying last year, I spent probably the last 4 out of 5 months of her life bringing her and her kids dinner once a week. I am not a nurturer. I am not a mom. I am not even very good at comforting people. But I can cook and nourish them and make them happy with delicious things. Vicki told me she always felt nurtured in my presence (<3) but I feel that the food was really my method of care. I smile now to think how I was able to bring her some of her favorite dishes, which she may have never had again otherwise. :) Food is love!

  4. hungry dog says:

    Jen, this post brought tears to my eyes. It’s no wonder you have such lovely friends who send you beautiful and delicious things, when you yourself are so generous. My heart goes out to Duke’s owner–but what a wonderful community he seems to have. xo

  5. Veronica Woo says:

    Jen, you are amazing. I think cooking for someone is sharing love. There is too little of that right now.
    Duke’s owner is lucky because I know you won’t be just making any meal !

    Happy New year. Looking forward to all your great recipes.

  6. jenyu says:

    angelitacarmelita – Yay! So great that you’ve been spreading the gospel :)

    Kristin – The pudding… I can handle it from time to time, but not daily. The drink is easy! :) I have looked into getting involved with local food pantries, but some understandably require a pretty steady schedule, which is hard to commit to when I’m splitting time between two places. But I find other ways to contribute, too. Good on you for volunteering!

    Mel – I’m so sorry about your friend, but I love that you used your mad skills to help her and her family. I think we, as cooks, take it for granted that everyone cooks great food. But the reality is that most people don’t cook, and those who do aren’t necessarily cooking great food. Such a gift, you are. xoxo

    hungry dog – You’re very sweet. I was struck by how down Duke’s person seemed over the holidays. Most of the folks who help out were either out of town or busy with their own families, and he doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so seemed particularly lonely and perhaps depressed. But one of his friends took him to a hot springs for a couple of days over the new year, and it really boosted his spirits. I can only imagine how hard it must be to have been a super active individual who loves the outdoors, who is now dealing with the limitations of his new life. That said, he is a fighter and is enrolled in programs that help those with physical disabilities remain active outdoors, as well as a fitness program in a nearby town. I hope the new year brings lots of progress and a resumption of him living his life to the fullest.

    Veronica – Thank you xxoo

  7. Steve says:

    Hey Jen! I loved the vanilla chia seed pudding recipe you had posted previously. It works great as a super quick breakfast. Definitely curious to try making some drinks up with the gel! Thanks for the idea and inspiration.

    PS Lorna and I got our first winter snow hike up here in the mountains of NH this past weekend. Totally hooked! Now I just need to get on a set of skis.

  8. jenyu says:

    Steve – You’re welcome! And I think a pair of cross country skis will serve you well (you can find used pairs around there easily). Waxless skis will be the easiest and I imagine Lorna will be THRILLED to go out for a ski tour with you :)

  9. Susan Campbell says:

    Delicious, wonderful, am so stoked. I bought a bag of chia seeds from….and guess what? they’ve been sitting in the pantry. Over the weekend we drove to Moundsville, WV, and I insisted that my boyfriend buy expensive bottle “Booch Hooch”….and one with chia seeds in it. I had pondered the mystery of fermenting my cha cha cha chia seeds…but didn’t know how and am eyeball deep in my Master of Science Capstone. Needless to say I’m taking the time to write you a thanks. Thanks!!

  10. Susan Campbell says:

    P.S. Melissa – Maybe divine intervention brought you to Vicki? The Lord works in mysterious ways, and maybe the situation warranted you seeing you are a BIG-TIME nurturer. I have known many mothers, and am a mother, and am not sure that these mothers would be able to stomach doing this for four months, or even four days. You are so blessed to be you.

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