Some food, some drink.
Here’s a Frozen Coffee That’s actually Good For You (With The Power of Chia!).
Sugar and fat-laden beverages are the bane of most New Year's resolutions. They go down easy, and essentially contain a half-meal's worth of the worst kind of stuff for a dieter's total caloric intake. I was asked by one of the good people at Hays Kansas' own Main Street 24 Hour Gym and Fitness Center to come up with an enjoyable way to ensure that their clients stay on task, with one stipulation: Whatever I created had to contain chia seed. What I ended up concocting was a health drink in the guise of a frozen coffee beverage that's high in protein, low in fat, weighs in at under 200 calories, is chock-full of vitamins, and has all the fiber and those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids that chia is known for. This frozen coffee works great as a post-workout meal replacer and will keep you full until it's time for dinner!
When your mug appears on a kiosk back by the dairy case at Wal-Mart for the better part of a year, folks in a rural Northwest Kansas town tend to pick up on that. The other day while at my daughter's tumbling lesson, I was met with a challenge and a bag of chia seeds by my daughter's tumbling coach, Ms. Lu. Ms. Lu is also a personal trainer at Main Street 24 Hour Gym and Fitness, and was wanting to work some chia into her trainees' diets in an accessible way. I'd never really messed with chia much past granola; so of course this was a puzzle I wanted to figure out.
I should start with the disclaimer here that I'm in no way a health nut. I watch what I eat, but only because I crave salad and grains for the next 3 days after eating like Ron Swanson the Sunday prior. So, the first step for me was to try to get in the head of a person that might be on a new health regiment. My train of thought went something like this: People are creatures of habit, and diet and exercise only works when habits are changed or improved upon. Hmmm, now what's a habit that could kill a diet and exercise regiment?
The answer actually came to me on a weekend where me and the fam ended up at a fast food restaurant on an evening where the wife said I was not allowed to mess up he kitchen (she just did the floors). I see a frozen coffee on the menu and that got me thinking about all the people who run around with coffee-based beverages attached to their hand. Here is a drink that's pretty much coffee in name only and no better for you than an ice cream sundae, and yet some folks feel the need to guzzle one every day. Ergo, if you can give someone a "healthified" version of a frozen coffee, then I figure you'd be enabling the right way.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Add ice, ground chia, instant coffee, protein powder, almond milk, and sugar-free syrup to your blender and blend until smooth. Grab a straw!
- I soooo wanted to do this drink with some fresh-brewed (or even cold brewed) coffee, but those experiments fell short for a couple of reasons: First, as this is a frozen drink, you gotta watch any additional liquid added past the ice. Almond milk's already in the house, and the addition of liquid coffee actually melted the ice and diluted the drink. Second, if you're in a "dump it in the blender and go" sort of situation, you sure as hell don't wanna wait on coffee to brew and then cool.
- I read somewhere a while back that instant coffee is more popular in some parts of the world than a standard-brewed cup. That said, I'm sure that you'll be able to find a brand that doesn't suck. Generally speaking, If it's not made for American tastes, you'll probably be alright.
- If it seems fussy to have to mill chia seed to make this stuff (or if you're without a coffee/spice grinder), then it is possible to find the little buggers pre-ground. If you are grinding yourself, don't over-do it, lest you're looking to make chia butter.
- A crushed ice is the way to go here. I like "Sonic-style" pelletized ice in this application as it's forgiving in even the most broke-ass of blenders. However, I happened to score a Ninja at Christmas, so if you have one of those (or something even fancier) then the ice delivery is a non-issue.
So, yeah; this tastes like a creamy, rich, vanilla-spiked coffee that's been frozen. That by itself however isn't enough for this beverage to be successful. If you go out and buy a frozen coffee at a fast food joint or the like, know that the smallest size is gonna set you back 450 calories and 20 grams of fat; essentially undoing any hard work you may have put in at the gym that day. My bootstrap calculations from a bit of label reading say that this take on iced coffee has a mere 195 calories, 7 grams fat, plus 21 grams of protein! And let's not forget to mention that you'll also be getting half of your calcium, 20% of your dietary fiber, and substantial amounts of vitamins A, E, and D. That qualifies as a health drink in my book!
This is a frozen coffee full of options. Don't dig almond milk? How's about soy milk or even some skim moo-juice? Vanilla not your thang? Just grab another sugar-free syrup from the shelf and go crazy. The chia seed does add a wee bit of um, "heartiness" to an otherwise evenly-textured beverage, but the ice suspended in the mix masks the fiber more often than not. Anyway, don't skip the chia; it's legendary ability to absorb and hold water really works well to add some body to this drink, even as the ice melts; and besides all that omega-3, the chia makes this drink uber-filling. Seriously, I had one of these in lieu of breakfast one morning and I had to force myself to eat a light lunch just to keep my energy up.
If you're curious about some of the nutrition details of this drink recipe, you can pop on over to the recipe details for that info. I read some labels and did a little math to compile that information. While not gnat's-ass accurate (I have no place to put a bomb calorimeter in my house), these approximations will get you ballpark.