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Iskiate

Posted Apr 13 2012 7:00am


Iska...what?

Iskiate (pronounced "iss-key-ahh-tay," or so says Google) is a simple drink made with the help of chia seeds.  The drink hit the mainstream recently when Christopher McDougall described it in his book Born to Run.  It has been used for a very long time by the Tarahumara as part of their race nutrition.

On a recent trip to Whole Foods to buy more chia seeds I noticed that a couple of companies have made chia drinks that are very similar to iskiate.  I was interested to see how they tasted, so I bought a bottle of each and decided to do a taste test.
Mamma Chia and Synergy are available at Whole Foods
The first chia drink I tried, Mamma Chia, was tasty once I got past the consistency.  Chia drinks are kind of... lumpy.  The seeds hold nine times their weight in absorbed water, so when they're added to a drink they take on a gel-like consistency.  Admittedly, it's difficult to get past the texture at first, but once you're used to it you barely seem to notice.
Mamma Chia was tasty.  From what I could tell it was fruit juice mixed with chia, nothing more or less.  While it was good to drink, at more than $3 a bottle the drink was pretty expensive.
The second drink, Synergy, was slightly larger than Mamma Chia but comparably priced.  The few extra ounces still didn't justify the price in my mind.  Forgetting about the cost for a moment, I popped the cap on Synergy and took a large gulp; I nearly spit the drink out!  Synergy markets itself as kombucha, a term which apparently means "fizzy, spoiled tasting juice."  The consistency of the drink was similar to Mamma Chia, but the fizziness of the juice reminded me of orange juice that had been in the fridge a tad too long.  I checked the ingredients on the bottle and noticed the following warning:
Synergy apparently ferments; I'm not a fan
Not wanting to be unfair to Synergy, I took the bottle back to Whole Foods and told them I thought it may have turned bad.  I got a new bottle and headed home to try it again; this time I found that fizziness is just a part of what Synergy is selling.  Some people may like this feature, but I'm not a fan.  If I return your product because I thought it had spoiled and then find out that's just how the product is, I'm probably not going to buy more.  Especially at over $3 a bottle.
As you've no doubt picked up to this point, I liked the idea of a chia drink but I didn't like the associated price tag.  Then inspiration hit me: if Mamma Chia is little more than juice and chia seeds, why not simply make my own?  I could doctor the recipe to my personal taste and save $$$ in the process!  I washed out a few old bottle of Coke Zero that I had finished and got to work on making my own iskiate.  
My personal blend; cherry, grapefruit, apple and orange!
BJ's (Kind of) Original Iskiate Recipe: 7oz. water 1 1/2 tablespoons of chia seeds 1 tablespoon sugar Fruit juice
I made my iskiate by combining the water, chia and sugar together in the Coke bottle (you can adjust the sugar amount to your taste).  I used warm water to help mix the sugar, and stirred the mixture several times in the first half hour to help avoid clumping.  I found that adding the water before the seeds helped to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the bottle.  After mixing it up, I let the mixture sit in the fridge overnight.
I prepared juice by getting a selection of fruit from the grocery store and juicing it at home using my Jack LaLanne Power Juicer (this is an awesome, easy and relatively inexpensive juicer!).  I mixed one orange, one apple, a large grapefruit and some cherry juice together, and poured the juice into the Coke bottle with the chia mixture the following morning when the seeds were fully hydrated.  There was enough juice to make over two bottles of iskiate.  And that was it!  A little shaking and my homemade iskiate was ready to drink, and in my opinion, it was tastier than either of the brands I had tried at Whole Foods.  Additionally, the cost of my mixture, between fruit, chia and sugar, was less than $2 a bottle, which is pricy but not outrageous!
So there you have it.  Give iskiate a try before your next long run, or as a pick-me-up first thing in the morning.  Need a way to strike up a conversation with coworkers?  Drink iskiate in front of them, it's a guaranteed ice-breaker!
Have you tried Mamma Chia, Synergy or iskiate before?  What was your experience?  Did you like it?  Let me know!  And definitely let me know if you decide to try to make some yourself!
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