I can’t tell you how many times I order something at a restaurant and utter to myself, “I could totally make this at home.” Then I proceed to go to the store, buy all the ingredients listed on the menu and get to work in the kitchen. More often than not, my creations pale in comparison to the original. But sometimes I luck out. Such is the case with the recipe I’m sharing with you today: Orange Ginger Chia Water.
Before I get to the recipe, let’s talk about chia seeds. I was introduced to these seeds a few years ago. They’re nutritional powerhouses, chock full of fiber, Omega 3s, antioxidants and vitamins. Basically, they’re crazy good for you.
I’ve used chia seeds to make chia pudding (I love this simple recipe), I’ve added them to my oatmeal, and I’ve noshed on Chia Bars. But I had never tried them in “drink” form until about a month ago when I went to lunch with a friend at LYFE Kitchen. If you’re not familiar with LYFE, it’s a chain of restaurants in a handful of states. Here’s the best part: Every item on their menu is under 600 calories. If you have a chance to eat there, definitely do. And order the Pizzadilla. You won’t regret it. Seriously.
Anyhow, they have a section of drinks on their menu called LYFE waters – basically a bunch of naturally flavored waters. My friend and I both tried the Orange Ginger Chia Water and it was AH.MAZ.ING. It was so good that my friend said I absolutely had to try to recreate it for my blog. And given my propensity to want to “DIY” things, I was up for the challenge.
LYFE lists the ingredients for this water as being “fresh-squeezed orange juice, filtered water, lime, ginger, mint chia seeds.” I’ve never heard of “mint chia seeds” so I have to assume they meant “mint AND chia seeds.” My friend and I actually asked the waiter what was in the drink when we were there for lunch. He mentioned they use a ginger infused syrup to give it the flavor. But I figured I could simply just infuse ginger into water for the same effect.
Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll need to make about 6 glasses of this refreshing beverage:
8 cups filtered water
1 3-4”ginger root, peeled
12 oz fresh squeezed orange juice (about the juice of 2 oranges – or you can use your favorite OJ)
6 tsp chia seeds
A bunch of mint leaves
First things first, you’ll need to infuse your water with ginger. Slice your peeled ginger root into thin discs, then add them into a pitcher with your water. Let it sit at least for a few hours, but ideally overnight. The longer you let it sit, the more of a ginger flavor you’ll get.
Once your water has the right level of “gingery-ness,” you’ll need to strain out the ginger pieces using a fine mesh strainer. If you have a second pitcher handy, it’s easiest to just strain the water into that extra pitcher. Otherwise, strain it into a large bowl, rinse out your pitcher, then carefully pour the strained water back in.
To serve, grab a large drinking glass and put 1 tsp of chia seeds at the bottom. Fill the glass with ice to your liking, then add 10 ounces of ginger water. Top it off with 2 ounces of orange juice, a squeeze of half of a lime, and drop in a few mint leaves. If you want more of a mint taste, you could always muddle them in the bottom of the glass before you add your chia seeds. At LYFE, I didn’t notice much of a mint taste at all, so when I realized I forgot to buy mint leaves for this recipe, I didn’t stress about it. You could also omit them and it will still taste great – trust me!
Before you start gulping it down, you should let the chia water sit for a good 5-10 minutes. Why? Chia seeds develop a gelatinous texture when they soak in liquid. It’s not only easier to drink (who wants crunchy seeds in their water?!), they are more digestible in their gel-like state.
If you’ll be serving all six glasses immediately, you could add all the ingredients into your pitcher directly, with the exception of the chia seeds; adding them to each glass separately will help ensure one person doesn’t get a giant glump of chia seeds in their glass!
But if you’re only making 1-2 glasses at a time, I recommend keeping all the ingredients separate until you’re ready to make a fresh glass. Otherwise, your chia seeds will absorb a ton of the liquid in your pitcher and you’ll be left with an orange-ginger chia water pudding!
(Oh, and if you’re wondering, the oranges in the picture at the top are actually clementines. I needed a little color in the photo and already juiced my navel oranges. But I bet the clementines would give it a really nice natural sweetness …. note to self!)
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. And I’d love to know your favorite way to cook with chia seeds — tell me in the comments below!
UPDATE: I went back to Lyfe Kitchen a few weeks ago for lunch, and obviously had to order the Orange Ginger Chia Water again. It was quite a bit sweeter than I remembered, which is likely due to the ginger syrup I mention above. The use of syrup also adds to the calorie count, which is 124 calories per serving at Lyfe Kitchen. My version uses no added sugar, which leads to a less sweet, but equally refreshing drink. And, my version is right around 50 calories a serving. I’ll take the calorie savings over a more sugary beverage, thank you very much!