Indigenous Cooking: Chia Power Bars | KCET
Indigenous Cooking: Chia Power Bars
Watch our documentary Tending The Wild on KCET TV, February 7 at 9:00 p.m.
We are the Chia Cafe Collective, a grassroots group of southern California tribal members and collaborators committed to the revitalization of Native foods, medicines, culture, and community. Our work honors the vast traditional knowledge and spiritual relationship to the land, and the nutritive and medicinal bounty the land offers us. Through workshops, classes, demonstrations, and native foods celebrations, we focus on ways to re-incorporate Native food plants into our daily diets to take back responsibility for our health and well-being. We hope our recipes can help you reconnect with the land through gathering, gardening, and cooking Native foods.
We promote an ethic of gathering and cultivating native plants in a manner that is sustainable, and we stress the importance of preserving native plants, plant communities, habitats, and the land for the future generations of all species.
I used to call this "chia candy," but I changed the name to Chia Power Bars because of the health benefits. I started adding unsweetened coconut, then the dried fruit, the different nuts. It came out to be like a chewy granola bar.
It's something you can take with you on a hike in a little baggie. It really boosts your energy level.
1 lb chia seeds, toasted
24 oz organic agave syrup or honey (amount depends on what else you add)
Add some zest & chunk:
Toss in a variety of dried fruits and berries, like currants, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, or cherries.
Add toasted, chopped pine nuts and/or sunflowers seeds, walnuts, pecans, or almonds.
Remember that if you add a variety of items, it will extend the recipe and make a larger amount.
I find coconut powder in East Indian markets, Asian markets, or health food stores. It’s just coconut, finely chopped with no sugar added. I usually toast the coconut, as it brings out the flavor.
First, toast the chia (careful not to burn) and whatever other zesty and chunky ingredients (coconut, pine nuts, etc.) and then set them aside. If you toast too long or the flame is too high, the chia seeds will start to pop.
More from Tending the wild
Next, you’ll want to reduce the moisture content of your syrup or honey, concentrating its stickiness. Do this by pouring the syrup or honey into a small pot over medium heat, bringing it to a boil. Lower the heat and continue cooking, stirring constantly, being careful not to let it burn, until you achieve a moderate thickness. Test if it’s done by dropping a bit of this syrup into ice water. It should form a ball that stays firm and pliable but is still sticky between your fingers. It’s important not to let the syrup get too thick, or the balls/bars may become too hard when they cool and turn out like peanut brittle.
When the syrup reaches this “ball stage,” turn the heat off and pour the syrup over your dry ingredients, mixing everything together. Let the mixture cool slightly before the next step, since it will be easier to handle.
Balls or bars:
Balls: Roll into small, 1’’ or 1/2” balls. For an extra layer of fun, roll them in finely chopped coconut or dip them in bittersweet chocolate. The mixture is easier to handle if you periodically dip your fingers in water (but not too much water or the balls won’t keep their shape).
Bars: Spread the mixture evenly onto a wax-paper lined cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Place a second layer of greased waxed paper over the mixture and flatten it into a solid block with an even thickness. When it cools you can score using a knife.
Store in the fridge if you are making your recipe a few days or a week ahead of time. Take out and bring to room temperature before eating. This recipe can be stored in the fridge or the freezer for months. I have made it on a few occasions when the mixture did not hold up well, but don’t ever think of tossing it out; it works great as a protein boost topping for yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies. This energy food can be kept in a baggie or waxed paper and used for an exercise workout boost or other outdoor activities, like hiking.
This recipe is reprinted with permission from Cooking, Culture, Community: Cooking the Native Way by the Chia Cafe Collective. Banner: chia flowers. Credit: Djfrantic, some rights reserved
Over the centuries, the concept of justice has been tackled and pondered over, and today's most pressing issues and latest science have changed the way we view it. Learn a few more things about "justice" in the 21st century.
The economic, social, and environmental woes of Trona are common to communities built around extractive industries. But even after the 2019 earthquake, the residents of the mining town remain "Trona Strong."
“New Shores: The Future Dialogue Between Two Homelands,” is a Current:LA event series highlighting the cuisine of nearby neighborhoods and the immigrant stories that thread them together.
Since its gifting to Los Angeles on December 1896, Griffith Park has been the sprawling landscape on which Angelenos have drawn their dreams. Learn more about its many unexpected histories.
- 1 of 210
- next ›
Suppressed for over a century, indigenous cultural burning is still practiced today and holds important lessons for managing the threat of destructive wildfires.
E2: Keeping the River - How the Klamath River's Native Peoples Maintain Their Relationship With Salmon
The Yurok, Karuk, and Hupa peoples have maintained a close relationship with the Klamath River. They have secured traditional fishing rights and mobilized against the threats of dams and agriculture, setting an example for Native environmental rights.
Despite barriers to access, traditional gathering and basket weaving is still practiced across California as a new generation is rediscovering and preserving its cultural heritage.
The Chia Cafe Collective is working to revive Native food practices and raise awareness about the threats to native plants in Southern California.
Native herbalism has a long history and continues to be practiced today. This video explores a holistic approach to health and how the environment can inform healthy living.
- 1 of 2
- next ›