Chia Trial #2: Chia flax power "crackers"
Week two of experimenting with nutritional powerhouse chia seeds, we had to go with the second recipe included on this post from the super New Zealand ultra-running blog that inspired Dave to explore chia potential in the first place. Last week went so well. Preparation was easy, with effective results. So much so, it would have been tempting to plan a big adventure run mid-week purely for the sake of trying out another chia concoction, if only work weren't in the way.
The making of these "Marching Crackers" was a bit less straightforward by comparison. Not that the recipe was complicated; we just had to adapt it. First, we nearly didn't allow enough time to soak our seeds (flax and chia in water), but we caught ourselves just in time. Then, our model recipe didn't specify pan size; we may have spread our mixture a bit thicker than the word crackers implies, but this is really a personal choice with a good bit of leeway.
Next puzzle in store was determining temperature. New Zealand goes by Celsius, of course, but the 50 degrees Celcius converts to a lower temperature in Fahrenheit than our oven allows (about 122). We tried as low a setting as we could (about 150 degrees F), and then left in the oven to further dry overnight, but the result was still too squishy. So, finally, we came up with our own method, which I'm pretty satisfied with, though there are surely many routes to follow for similar, and equally happy, outcomes.
Key to making these fuel bar "crackers" is drying out the mixture well, whether you're using a food dehydrator, air-drying, or baking in the oven. Until you do, the seeds have a bit of an odd, bitter aftertaste. Plus, the initial crunch is much better when well crisped. Regardless, however, one of the amazing things about chia seeds is the ability to absorb and retain water, and after only a few seconds chewing, your bar will take on an easily digestible paste-like quality. Dave ate one at the tail end of a 16 mile tempo run loop, and described the sensation as "three seconds of chewing, and then it all broke up into soft little ball bearing-like bits."
OK, in case you had any doubt, these power bars are not going to be confused with snack bars, ala Luna or Z-bars. At first glance, they might, though. The cocoa powder cultivates a deceptively dark chocolatey richness. Only these are pretty decisively endurance fuel, and as such, they really aren't bad, at all. They're good, even. Just not "cookies". "They just glide down," Dave said, and that's a good thing. He's had issues in past races and hard training sessions getting fuel down, even gels, let alone bars. These won't make their to Santa's plate any year (although they could probably help him stay up through a long night and keep his muscles powered up for lifting packages as needed), but as long as marathons, mountain treks, and ultras are on the cards, this recipe's a keeper.
- 1 cup Chia seeds
- 1 cup flaxseeds
- ½ cup cacao or cocoa powder
- ½ cup honey, agave, or maple syrup
- ½ cup raisins
- Soak the Chia seeds and linseeds overnight in 2 ½ cups of water.
- Add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spread onto a 9 X 13 tray (nonstick or sprayed lightly with cooking spray) and bake at 300 F for 1 hour. Slice into sections that allow you to turn over without breaking. Return to the oven and bake at 300 F for a further 1 hour.
- Slice into squares/bars to taste. Return to still-warm oven and leave overnight to continue drying before use.
Chia's water-absorption properties make it a good candidate for puddings, and this Marta Stewart vanilla chia pudding is especially intriguing. There's also this interesting chocolate one from Shape. And while it only asks for two tablespoons of seeds, who can not be a little tempted by the mention of chia brownies? Speaking of the brownies, I saw them on this site, which hosts a whole slew of chia recipe ideas. I think I'm going with Ms. Stewart next...unless...? What would you choose?