Zingy, sweet-tart Chia Limeade is a citrusy drink for the whole family. It’s a simple, fresh thirst-quencher, and a step up from lemonade.
When Chef Geraldine Gilliland put this Chia Limeade on the menu at her restaurant Lula Cocina Mexicana in Santa Monica, Calif., she had a funny reaction from customers. They ordered the drink, and then when it arrived, they sent it back because they thought it had bugs in it!
Those little chia seeds, so unfamiliar to people back in the day, looked suspiciously like bugs taking a lazy swim! Good thing she persevered, because this is a refreshing, simple drink that you’ll reach for all year long. It adds a burst of citrus freshness, a welcome, non-alcoholic quaff anytime. (Of course, if you’re over 21, and you want to splash in some tequila or vodka, I won’t tell.)
How to make Chia Limeade
1. First, gather your ingredients, as always. In this case, it is only a couple of main things — a bunch of limes, and some chia seeds (and the more mundane sugar and water). I have white chia, but you can use darker chia if you like; it doesn’t matter.
2. Make simple syrup, which is a 1:1 ratio of granulated sugar and water.
3. Squeeze a bunch of limes to get 1 cup of juice. Limes vary greatly in juiciness, and the last time I did this, it took me 1 pound of limes to get 1 cup juice. Your mileage may vary, depending on how juicy your limes are.
4. Add simple syrup, lime juice, water and chia seeds to a large pitcher and stir. The chia seeds are just for fun — some will sink, some will float, it’s all good. Chia seeds swell up and absorb 12 times their weight in liquid, so they are often used to gel something. In this case, we’re not adding anywhere near enough to gel the limeade, just for them to float around a bit and be intriguing. It takes at least half an hour for them to absorb some limeade and swell. Stash the pitcher of limeade in the refrigerator after you make it, and let those chia swell before you serve it.
5. A word about the color of limes: Most limes from the supermarket are green and immature. Limes become pale yellow when they are fully ripe and develop sugars that make them sweeter than underripe green limes. They’re usually picked green because it is easier to ship unripe fruit since it is harder and stores longer than squishy ripe fruit. My limes in the photo above came from a backyard Santa Monica, Calif. tree, so were allowed to ripen on the tree.
6. Can you leave the chia seeds out? Sure. It’s still going to be excellent limeade. The chia just add interest and intrigue.
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About the cookbook:
The recipe comes from Chef Gilliland’s wonderful cookbook, “The Lula Cocina Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes form Mexico to Malibu ,” and it’s one of many treasures in the book. It might seem odd for a woman originally from Ireland to end up as chef-owner of a now 30-year-old Mexican restaurant in Southern California, but Geraldine Gilliland is not your average person. She took it upon herself to train with one of the best female chefs in Mexico (Lula Bertran), and then ended up naming her new restaurant in Santa Monica after her. She is equally passionate about the protection and rehab of abused and abandoned animals, and launched Chiquita’s Friends, a non-profit charity/sanctuary in Malibu, Calif. dedicated to the cause. Her cookbook is available for sale on Chiquita’s Friends . All proceeds from book sales go to Chiquita’s Friends.
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