Tarahumara Pinole and Chia

In case you’re one of the six remaining runners on the planet who have yet to read Born to Run, allow me to explain.  The Tarahumara are “the running people” on which most of the book is based, a Mexican tribe of superathletes who run 50 or 100 miles at a time for pure enjoyment, seemingly without effort.

The Tarahumara diet is described in some small detail in the book, with repeated mention of two staples — pinole and chia seeds.  The author relates a few stories that ascribe almost magical, endurance-enhancing qualities to these simple foods.

Below are two basic recipes I experimented with.  

Pinole recipe

Pinole seems to describe any of a variety of forms of parched or roasted corn, ground into a flour and combined with water and some spices or sugar.  It can be made into a drink, an oatmeal-like paste, or baked to form a more-portable “cake.”  Here’s a recipe I made using regular cornmeal; you can change the proportions and spices to suit your taste.  If you don’t want to toast your own corn, you can get pinole at Amazon.com.  (Note: Masa harina is probably more authentic than cornmeal, since that corn has been treated with lime, the way the Tarahumara maize is.)


  • 1/2 cup cornmeal, ground as fine as possible
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar
  • chia seeds (optional)

Toast the cornmeal in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it turns light brown, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl, mix in cinnamon, and sweetener or other spices, and desired amount of water (see below).

[raw cornmeal photo]

[toasted cornmeal photo]

You can add a lot of water to make a drink of it, but I found this kind of weird because the corn didn’t dissolve.  If you add just a few tablespoons of water instead and mix, you get an oatmeal-like consistency that can be eaten with a spoon, or even out of the palm of your hand on a run:

[pinole photo]

Alternatively, you can bake the paste at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes until it has the texture of a brownie.  This more portable form is better for carrying on a long run, and a good alternative to sugary energy gels.

[baked pinole photo]

Pinole, in the form of energy bars, waffles, and more

This tasted ok (not great), but I found it pretty inconvenient to actually bring along on a run. It was hard to keep the biscuit from crumbling, and really, who is going to make a paste in the palm of their hand on a run?

To make pinole more convenient (and the type of thing you could actually bring on a run without making a mess), I worked with a baker to come up with 15 new pinole and chia recipes, so that we could get pinole in the form of energy bars, waffles, muffins, hand pies, and other running food. The recipes turned out really well, and all of them tasted way better than these initial experiments with plain pinole did.

Click here to learn more about the project, Fuel Your Run with Pinole and Chia.

Chia fresca (iskiate) recipe

[chia seeds photo]

Chia seeds (yep, the same ones used in Chia Pets) have enjoyed a surge in popularity recently among health-foodies.   There are many purported benefits of chia seeds, and legends abound about chia seeds reviving struggling athletes or warriors, with small amounts sustaining men for long periods of time.

As for buying chia seeds, I usually get these, but sometimes I’ll get white chia.  White chia seeds, also called salba, are an heirloom variety, so they’re the closest thing you’ll get to what the runners and warriors in the all chia legends were eating.

Chia seeds have the interesting property that when they’re left in water for a few minutes, the water begins to gel.  Supposedly this is helpful in digestion.  Here’s a a recipe for chia fresca (also called iskiate), a popular drink made with chia seeds, water, and lemon or lime.


  • about 10 oz of water
  • 1 Tbsp dry chia seeds
  • a few teaspoons lemon or lime juice
  • honey or agave nectar, to taste (optional)

Stir the chia seeds into the water; let them sit for about five minutes.  Stir again, and let sit for as long as you like.  The more it sits, the more gel-like the seeds and water become.  Add citrus juice and sweetener to taste.

[chia fresca photo]

I found chia fresca to be a refreshing drink for the morning, and I swear I felt an energy boost from it.  (But the placebo effect can be strong with me, so try for yourself.) But I really don’t like the gel consistency in the drink. I now choose to get my chia in smoothies, like the strawberry-iskiate smoothie from Fuel Your Run with Pinole and Chia.


Note: Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links.



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  1. OK I’m one of these 6 have yet to read this book! I have however discovered the wonder of chia seeds – I make chia pudding with almond milk, agave nectar and a little cinnamon. A great treat! Gonna see if I can get this book at the library.
    .-= Alison´s last blog ..Secret Goals =-.

    • Great book! You’ve got to get it. Very engaging, entertaining and informative. Explores running from many aspects; the science of running, the history of running, and quite a bit about general nutrition as well. Chris really did his homework in writing this book. It’s an adventure. I highly recommend it… even if you’re a casual runner like me.

      • Get and read “Born to Run”
        I just started running last year at age 40 and I’m glad I found this book so early in my running career (whgich I hope will be long and fun0. Read this book.

        Did I mention read this book?

      • i think it would actually make a good movie. i agree with tony. i am not a long distance runner but when i saw this book on amazon’s new york times best sellers list i had to read it. i am only about a 1/4 through the book and i find it very humorous. i think we will be seeing a film based on this book

        • cobrasaint says:

          I really hope that great running books like this one are never made into a film or movie. I personally have been enjoying reading this book for its entire sleuth of information as I am also a first time runner and enjoying every step. Once books go Hollywood, the mystical and magical sense of this tribe and its wise messages will be exploited and ripped to shreds as all other great books have been outdone. This is my personal opinion. BTW, I cannot wait to start running Barefoot!

          • I agree with you on alot of fronts but i’m sorry to break it to you but the book is definitely going to be made into a movie. I think it’s a good way to get the message out there because that is the world we live in. ‘A commercial one’. sadly it’s the only way alot of people will get the message. it could be a good thing. It will be seen as a fad and people will give up after a while. Only dedicated ones will stick with it. Happy Barefoot running. I’m in my transitional period. Running on the beach barefoot and wearing minimalist merrel shoes as much as i can. Good luck with it. 🙂

        • Just finished the audiobook, and I totally agree with you about the movie.

        • Nice prediction!! You should get a job for a movie studio!!

      • Hey all,
        I’m just wondering about the chia fresca recipe–I’m about 3/4 way through the book and wanted to look up a recipe for it, and found this site. I’m going to try iskiate for sure. I’m just wondering about the “brewing” part of making it, as referred to twice by Chris in his Born To Run, on page 44. Not sure if he’s using the term “brew” offhandedly as a writer or as a reference to the recipe (I’d presume that brewing would mean bringing the chia seeds and water to a boil, and then simmering for a while). Lots of you guys probably already know that soaking and simmering seeds, beans and grains is often helpful in bringing out their fuller nutritional content….thus my question here.
        I hope all are well and loving life!

        • I think he’s speaking metaphorically in the case of chia – there’s no need to cook chia as it is very easily digested in it’s raw form, unlike most beans and grains. I fill a mason jar (with a lid so you can shake it – there are non-rusting plastic lids that must be bought separately, but are best), halfway with water, then add 2 tbls of chia. Shake the jar shake it every 10 seconds or so for the first minute, with a couple more good shakes over the next few minutes. Let it sit for 5 mins to fully hydrate the seeds, then drink.

    • I was a 10k competitior until about mid-30s, then got married. Gonna be young and thin forever, right? At 48, I stepped on a scale at work and found my 5.8″ frame weighed over 200 pounds, and it wasn’t muscle. Shortly after I started running again, a local DJ mentioned “Born to Run”. I adopted the running style and foot placement described in the book, supplemented by lots of viewing of YouTube videos, and began winning my age group in races again, coming in 2d or 3d overall.
      What’s more, my chronic shinsplints went away OVERNIGHT. Going uphill is so easy and even restfull, although declining cartiledge in the knees make me prefer level ground. I can’t really do the speed anymore at 54 years, so I’m now going for longer, slower distances. So far, I have a 27 and a 30 mile run under my belt. Working on the nutrition, as lack of nutrition has been seriously problematic late in the run. I made ‘iskiate’ brownies which I ate during the 30 mile run, and after the first one, didn’t notice that it helped, leading me to think that it only works for energy when you are completely out of energy. This weekend I’m making the gel drink, and plotting a >28 mile run. Cake decorator tips and bags could be a good way to transport and consume the ‘iskiate’. It’s a work in progress. My goal is to reach 50 miles.

    • I’ve read the book and you’re not missing too much- it’s full of wild claims, gross exaggeration, and endless name dropping. It does, however, mention a few things like Pinole which are good to know (which I found here). For a good book on running I suggest Danny Dreyer’s ChiRunning. I will say the Chia seeds are good, I add them to oatmeal and am going to try making the drink.


  2. I’m one of those 6, too, so this all seems very foreign but I dig it!
    .-= Evan Thomas´s last blog ..Kicking Off The Month Right =-.

  3. How fun. So the pinole is kind of like a thicker sweetened polenta? I bet its delicious. Beer before running? Now that is something I could never do ughhh. Thanks for all the info
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Aurorae Yoga Mat Giveaway & Roasted Fruit and Veggies =-.

    • Erica, yeah I guess it is sort of like polenta. And it’s not always sweetened, so it could be very similar. I think the big difference is that the water isn’t heated and absorbed as much as blended with the already-toasted corn.

  4. that pinole sounds interesting. I wonder what the nutritional stats are…think it is a good source of energy on long runs?
    .-= Mary (Food Fit and Fun)´s last blog ..Striped Bass =-.

    • Mary, it’s probably a lot of carbohydrates. I believe corn is relatively starchy and converts pretty quickly to sugar (not sure why, but I think I’ve heard that). So it’s not ideal for some of the “less-sugar on runs” ideas I’m starting to incorporate, but might make a good transition between eating sugar and removing it completely.

      • Alright, first off, all energy is used as sugar. There are complex sugars that brake down over longer times, and simple sugars. Jesus, vegitarian dude ur lettin ur no meat friends down. I bet im alot younger than you and i know this… So if you try to get off of all sugars you WILL feel out of energy because it is our main source of energy.

        • Miles, thanks for that ridiculously wrong piece of information.

        • Miles you are an idiot. Not only are you wrong, but you are ignorant about it. Even in the book it states that any distance runner knows that if you are burning through sugars instead of reserves your diet needs a serious tweek, sugars cant sustain you long enough to run a marathon let alone a 50+. And meats and the such will only give you fat and proteins for fuel. Mixes like this pinole, are a much more natural, longer lasting form of energy for your body than any protein shake, steak combo.

          That being said, http://www.livestrong.com/recipes/pinole/ Another pinole recipe with the nutrition facts intact. For those of you wondering what kind of scale you are looking at.

          • DaveManTheCaveMan says:

            Actually, Miles is right. Your body breaks down the complex sugars into simple sugars or else you wouldn’t be able to use the energy stored in the complex sugars. That being said, simple sugars are worse for you than complex sugars in general. So it is better to eat complex sugars. They are like timed-release energy, rather than a short overdose of energy that simple sugars give you. So you all have valid points, but don’t dismiss Miles, because scientifically, he is correct, but it’s not the whole story.

          • Naw, Miles is still a turd.

          • your absolutely right daveman. its common sense. drinking a red bull and eating a candy bar will give you short bursts of energy. but eating pasta rice and even better, whole grains along with fruit which is natural sugar goes a lot further.
            i think corn gets a bad rep because it is used in so many of our refined foods and sodas.
            i eat meat by the way

        • No matter how right or wrong he may be, you is pretty stuck up about it. Miles, perhaps an apology for your condescending behavior would calm everyone down.

        • He means refined simple sugar I’m certain. I think a lot of people know our body converts our foods into sugars for various body functioning purposes. I can assume he wants to avoid surplus sugars that don’t help with having an efficient energy economy. Betting you know more at a younger age doesn’t mean “ur smartr”.

      • Sabina , says:

        how do I do to make the past to put in the oven , because its not sticky enough to make a perfect cookie like in the picture but even just the normal recipe is really good !!!

        • artbyjoe says:

          to make a paste, it is probably just like normal use of masa harina, you have to wet it down, and let it sit overnight. in the morning, it is more of a plasticine texture. that is how tortillas are made.

  5. Interesting recipes! Where did you find Chia? Also, did you use regular store bought cornmeal? Or were you able to grind it finer or find a finely ground version somewhere?

    I’d like to try both recipes – thanks for sharing them.
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..icouldbe.org =-.

    • Elizabeth, I found Chia at a health store near me, called David’s Natural Market. I know you can find chia seeds online in a lot of places. I used store-bought, organic (Bob’s Red Mill) cornmeal. I could only find medium grind; next time I’ll grind it finer in the coffee grinder. I bet parching the corn yourself would be much better if you really got into pinole.

  6. The book looks interesting! Are chia seeds only available in certain stores? I’m intrigued, I will have to find some…

    • Chrissy, health stores and online are the only place I’ve found them. I bet Whole Foods carries them.

      • If you have a Henry’s market near you, that is where I’d look–I get mine there. I would *suspect* Whole Foods would carry it, but can’t confirm that because I’m too poor to shop there 🙂

        You can always buy it online or even grow it yourself, that is my next experiment.

        • I just got home from whole foods in tampa where they sell chia seeds in bulk for about $5 a pound. Mixed up about a tablespoon in a glass of water and squeezed a bit of lime and id say im about 10 minutes in and i feel wicked good. The energy thats buzzing through my veins is only going to get better and i think im about to slip on my vibrams for another run : ). Oh and guys, remember to eat like you are poor. See ya on the trails!

          • small world, was just gonna head out to whole foods in tampa to try the chia seeds out. taylor are you in north or south tampa?
            btw i love the book born to run. sounds fadish but im waiting for ups to deliver my luna sandals tonight.

          • I found very reasonably priced chia seeds at our Costco here in Minnesota

    • Chrissy, every Whole Foods store ive been in has them in the bulk foods section and in the vitamins or I think they call it the whole body isle.

  7. I haven’t found Chia in a store yet, but I’m definitely going to try the pinole recipe soon. I have a grain mill and actually am in the habit of grinding my own flour and cornmeal. I can’t wait to try it, especially the baked idea since I’ve never really liked sucking down all the sugary, engineering sport foods for endurance sports (probably explains why I either bonk or get sick to my stomach!).
    .-= Jill Will Run´s last blog ..Not the Taper I Planned =-.

    • You can get black or white chia at GNC. They have The Chia Co. brand there. It is a little more expensive than buying in bulk, but it is good chia.

  8. My cousin was saying that my great grandmother was Tarahumara. I am not feeling it in my running yet but I will have to look into that further.

    As for chia, I love that stuff. One of my favorite recipes is chia seed mixed with coconut shreds. That’s it, you just munch it. I also add it to my smoothies in small amounts but it expands fast so drink it up quick. I also made a great raw tapioca with chia seeds instead of tapioca pearls. I will have to post that recipe soon.

    P.S. The beer sounds exciting!
    .-= Hethir´s last blog ..Another Trail Run Today! =-.

  9. Dude, chia seeds are awesome. I’ve written about them before on my blog. They help slow the breakdown of glucose when consumed with fruit, thus giving you energy for longer. That reminds me I should probably make some more of my raw chia seed energy bars 🙂 http://organicclimber.com/?p=516
    < hope you don't mind the plug 🙂

    Which, btw actually do pretty well if you freeze them overnight and don't use the dehydrator. I made cashew cookie energy bars before the Turkey Trot last week and didn't have proper time to dehydrate them so just stuck them in the freezer. They were great consumed shortly after pulling them out and again after the race was over.
    .-= Caleb´s last blog ..Raw Oatmeal Cookies – A Holiday Treat =-.

    • Dude, it works!!! Yesterday, did a 30 mile run. Wasn’t worried about the time, just completion. Energy has been problematic, so I made some pinole (with a scoop of creatine 3x for good measure!) and used the runners formula. This included chia seeds. I also made some iskuate, and took that along. It worked so well, I think I’m going figure out how to carry the pinole in a side pouch so I don’t have to stop to take off my hydro-pack!

  10. p.s. I have yet to read the book myself, so thanks for the 411.
    .-= Caleb´s last blog ..Raw Oatmeal Cookies – A Holiday Treat =-.

  11. Hmm, weird, my previous comment didn’t post. It was sort of long too 🙁

    But in short, chia seeds are great. I’ve written about them on my blog, they help slow the breakdown of glucose thus giving you energy longer.

    I have a raw energy bar recipe on my site that uses them http://organicclimber.com/?p=516

    I’ve also recently discovered you really don’t need the dehydrator for them. Freezing them overnight works well, although I prefer them dehydrated.
    .-= Caleb´s last blog ..Raw Oatmeal Cookies – A Holiday Treat =-.

    • Caleb, thanks for the link to the recipe; I might have to try those. Always love homemade energy bars. I think your first comment went to my spam because of the link in it (links are fine by me, as long as they’re relevant like this one). Though that doesn’t explain why your next one worked!

  12. I love the idea of pinole! The baked version looks so rustic and crunchy. Was it “cracker-ish” or more soft? I’m definitely giving this a try! 😀
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..Lesson Learned! =-.

    • Sarah, the baked version was soft, like a brownie kind of. But I think more baking would harden it, and maybe make it better for carrying on a run. Though then it might require washing down with water!

  13. i don’t know about the gel-like water from chia seeds, but the pinole sounds try-able!
    .-= lindsay´s last blog ..behind again (november 2009) =-.

    • Linfsay,
      I think the Chia Fresca is pretty good. I have started drinking it every morning. I mix 2 tbs of chia into 10 oz of cold water. I stir them often to keep the seeds from clumping together, and let them set for 5 min or so. Then I add in the juice from half a lime and 1 tsp of Truvia to make it sweet. I have grown to like it a lot, my 1 yr old son even likes to have some with me.

  14. Well, I’m not a runner – or a beer drinker (LOL!) – but I do LOVE healthy recipes. Chia seed pudding is delish, too! I’ve never had the pinole. I’m not sure I’d like it – maybe the baked version. I don’t know…

    Thanks for the fun, informative post, though. I really enjoyed it!

    .-= Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl´s last blog ..Interview with ShimmerOrganics Owner, Lisa Ann Turkel =-.

  15. Chia seeds are great, I just can’t figure out what to do with 26 naked chia pets…

  16. I’ve never heard of pinole before! Baking it looks like something I’d be way interested in. It looks like I’d be able to trick myself into thinking that was some kind of delicious corn cookie 🙂
    .-= Allyson´s last blog ..Custom Knit Holiday Present Giveaway! =-.

  17. I would think that the chia turning the liquid to gel would make you feel full. A benefit for me, always trying to eat less. Where in the world did you find chia seeds? They make me think of stupid Christmas gifts!

  18. I am going to try your recipe for pinole “cakes”. I drink iskiate almost every day. I buy it online from Wingfoot Iskiate. The seeds are ground into a powder so it doesn’t have that wierd seed gel feeling. It comes in lemon, lime or orange and they are all yummy. If you want to check it out the website is http://www.chiastuff.com

  19. Thanks for the Pinole recipe. Looking forward to trying it. I am having similar experiences with the Iskiate I have been making as well. Great recovery drink (refreshing) but not quite sure how much it is actually working.
    .-= rpd´s last blog ..Dog ownership better than a gym membership? A new survey says yes | L.A. Unleashed | Los Angeles Times =-.

  20. i love chia!! today i had it in plain coconut water instead of regular “chia fresca” and it was delicious! i still haven’t tried pinole though-i like your idea of baking it into a cracker/cookie!
    .-= elizabeth´s last blog ..Chia-It’s Not Just for the Pets! =-.

  21. Thanks for the guidance on the chia fresca — I’ve been curious about that ever since I read “Born to Run!” I feel that at this point, it can only be a let-down. But the placebo effect is better than no effect at all!
    .-= Amy Reinink´s last blog ..December playlist: Carol of the Bells and other pump-up songs =-.

  22. I got my chia seeds at The Vitamin Shoppe. I mix mine in orange juice a lot of the time, tastes great and hardly can taste the seeds.

  23. I loved Born to Run and now that I’m training for the LA Marathon, I’ve been researching (AKA wasting lots of time on the internet), looking for what to eat and drink during the race. I’m a health-nut, vegan athlete and have no intention of chugging down refined sugars and things I don’t eat in my daily life. I’ve pondered plenty about Pinole and Chia since reading Born to Run, so here’s a GIGANTIC THANKS for posting your recipes. I’ll give them a try during my training runs. Real food – that is what I was hoping to find.

    I just got done blogging about all my favorite running stuff and was bummed I couldn’t say I’d found something great to refuel yet. If this works out can I post your recipe on my blog as well? http://frealfitness.wordpress.com/ I’ll happily give you all the credit.

    Thanks again,
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..13 Items This Runner LOVES =-.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Glad you’ve found the recipes useful. You are welcome to post them; I really just kind of put together the ingredients based on other recipes that I could find.

      Looking forward to hear how they work for you!


  24. I just tried your Pinole recipe and it seems like I got the consistency right for baking… I got decent little wafers, though they’re fairly crumbly. But I have to say… it really doesn’t taste good! Have you tweaked your spices at all? I had to add more honey than you indicated to even get it to stick together. I used about 4 tbsp. of water.

    I wonder if I over-browned the cornmeal, or if I just need different cornmeal.

    • I used some cornmeal I bought at an Amish store, which is very fine. The wafers were not crumbly at all. I’ve also baked the mixture in muffin pans.

  25. I finished reading “Born To Run” in September ’09. Since then, I have perfected 3 variations of Pinole, as a drink , energy bar and oatmeal. I have ben handing it out to the guys I run with on our long runs. It has become a staple food for long runs, and I never pass up an opportunity to tell someone about it. My mileage has gone up from averaging 30 per week to 50 since September, with no injuries. I am running the Boston Marathon in April, and the Ice Age 50 mile in May. My first Ultra-Marathon! I now run a workout of 18 plus miles every other week, and actually look forward to them. Chia, Pinole and the book “Born To Run” have re-newed my running career. Oh yeah, I turn 50 in September this year.

  26. Ditto Tim’s comment above. I tried making the “brownie” version of pinole but it just fell apart after baking. I could only find medium grind corn meal. Any suggestions on getting it to stick together?

  27. Well folks, I just drank my first chia fresca. It was quite good actually. I’m Fifty-five years old and like to run as often as I can. I also live in Michigan and it’s blowin’ snow like crazy right now–not good running weather! So, having had my first chia fresca, I’ve got no where to go with it. ‘Guadajuko’ first go at it anyway!

    • Selle Roos says:

      Jim, my first outing barefoot four years ago was at 8F and a Blizzard. Three pair of socks and off you go…since then I’ve bought a pair of Hiko surf shoes for the less cold days when snow is moist.
      And yes I had thrown my regular running shoes to hell after two knee surgeries and cramping problems. Yesterday I ran for 2h+ in the woods, in my Fivefingers. Looking forward to coming winter. S

  28. Dale Spoonemore says:

    I’m having a hard time getting these into a format that doesn’t break apart easily. Has anyone out there been able to come up with a recipe for something that is less soft and stays together better?

  29. Tim, Jon, Dale –

    Glad to hear you guys tried this. I don’t know about the crumbling issue; I’m not much of a baker but I would guess you should add moisture or something sticky. Perhaps adding more honey or agave would fix it? This would also increase the sweetness, of course, addressing Tim’s comment. But keep in mind: one of the compelling reasons to eat pinole is that it’s an alternative to sugary supplements. Making it sweet defeats the purpose, for me.

    • you can add an egg or some banana both work to hold things that you back together for vegans banana is the best option.

    • Joseph Brooks says:

      You an grind up flax seed and use it as a binding agent instead of egg. I know a bunch of mennonite that use ground fluffed flax seed instead of egg in everything.

  30. I’ve found that the texture of the Chia Fresca is not as bad if you drink it through a straw and continue to mix it around while you drink it. This keeps you from getting a huge glob of seeds at one time. It’s also really awsome in fruet smoothies.

  31. I love both the Iskiate and Pinole before my runs. Haven’t tried this recipe for the pinole, though. Which I have one query on, how many of the chia seeds? (1 tbsp, 2 tbsp?)

  32. Pinole has made its way into my regular breakfast line up. I love it with agave necter. I find that if I cook it in a pan like a pancake it stays soft and is great with beans or peanut butter or almond butter.
    Loved born to run. Changed my outlook.

    • Ya. I made a batch today and added an egg and a banana. Then I cooked it to make a pancake and topped it with agave. Tasted great and I felt great.

  33. First, Born to Run is a great book. Like you, I have been trying to find pinole and chia recipes. Thank you so much for your great information. The Chia Fresca is now part of our daily routine. Chia also goes in our oatmeal every day! I wondered if one could just use plain cornmeal for the pinole. I will try your recipes tonight. Also,I find the chia seeds help with IBS and other digestive ailments.

  34. Great idea with the pinole brownies – I will definitely have to try that soon – for now I was just having a smoothie with pinole and soya milk before every workout – works great. And of course chia seeds… really good stuff!
    But don’t you think it’s better to replace yellow corn with purple, as it has so much more nutrition value? I know it’s very hard to find any but could be worth searching. I found one place in UK that will sell it – http://www.00runningfuel.co.uk/organic_corn_products.html for now I’ve been just buying chia and some other products from them, but can’t wait to experiment with your recipes! Thanks for posting them!

  35. Daniela says:

    I have just tried pinole for breakfast it is amazing. It took 3 minutes to make. I did not have any spices on hand but jam is lovely with just light toast spreads with of butter. I am so doing it again. Now where in the devil can i find chia seeds in the uk?

    • Daniela, I’m glad you liked the pinole! Not sure about chia seeds in the UK, can you just get them from Amazon or iHerb?

      By the way, Christine, who writes the Friday posts on No Meat Athlete, is working on a pinole/chia waffle recipe that runners can eat as a pre-race breakfast. I can’t wait to try it; I’m sure she’ll post about it soon.

    • Hi Daniele,

      for chia seeds I really recommend the website I mentioned in my previous post – I was buying chia seeds from them for a while now and as far as I know, they are the only organic supplier in UK… I recently got a great recipe from them for Pinole muffins – absolutely fantastic!! If anyone was interested I could maybe post it here later on. http://www.00runningfuel.co.uk/organic_pinole.html They really taste amazing and I was told they are also working on pinole & chia flapjack! will share as soon as I get my hands on it.

  36. Hello everyone,

    I was just searching for some more info about pinole and found your website. It’s really great! I also got the muffins recipe from 00 Running Fuel and I use it a lot!! Hope you’ll also enjoy it! Here it is:

    100g 00 Pinole (for that you can use ground purple corn with one tbsp of chia and one tbsp of red maca powder)
    100g wholemeal organic self raising flour
    30g cacao nibs ground to powder
    100g organic coconut oil
    1 teaspoon organic baking powder
    4 organic eggs
    230g raw cane sugar (unrefined) or organic raw honey

    Whisk all wet ingredients (eggs, sugar/honey and oil) together. Mix pinole, flour and cacao powder and then add a little at a time to the wet mix. When all combined, spoon 2 tablespoons of the batter into muffin cases and bake at 175 degrees centigrade for about 20 or 30 minutes, until the mixture is set and a fork inserted into the muffins comes out clean.

    Enjoy! These muffins freeze really well, so you can freeze half to enjoy later. But be careful – they tend to disappear very fast! 🙂

  37. Fantastic recipes! I’ve been drinking iskiate since I finished Born to Run a few months ago, but I hadn’t made pinole until I found your article. Actually, this was the article that got me hooked on your feed. My wife was startled at how much of a “flexitarian” I’ve become since I started reading your recipes.

    Thanks again for the great reading, and the great new recipes.

  38. I listened to and thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook of Born to Run, and I’ve never been a runner! Highly recommend it. Also curious about wild geranium mentioned. Now I’m not remembering the context, i.e., what it was used for in the context of the running or races …

  39. marianne says:

    I just completed my first marathon as a walker/runner with 100+lbs too much on my body. A couple weeks later I discovered “Born to Run” and finished it this morning. I have just begun experimenting w/ a vegetarian diet and am excited for the new energy levels and mind clarity I am experiencing. Can’t wait to try the pinole and iskiat recipes. thanks so much.

  40. Just finished reading born to run last week and it has completely changed my whole perspective on running and also made me think differently about my whole life! Wow! Read it.

  41. christine says:

    Found your site as a result of looking for a traditional pinole recipe. Traditional recipes for grains involve soaking, sprouting and/or fermentation. Corn was always soaked in lime by SW natives and in ash from hardwood trees in NE. This makes the corn more bioavailable–esp vit b-6. The beer the Tarahumara drank is nothing like our beer. As I said traditionally grains were femented or sprouted. Many traditions fermented a sort of beer out of grains but it’s lactofermented (so actually more akin to yogurt) and the alcohol content is something like 20x less then our beer but it’s loaded with enzymes and all the nutrition of the grain is easily available to the body. The Westin Price Foundation is a good place to start learning about traditional diets.

    • Thanks Christine, that’s really interesting stuff. And it all makes sense. When you say “drank” and “was” though, are you implying that the modern-day Tarahumara don’t do this stuff anymore? I’m going to check out the Westin Price Foundation. Please let me know if you know of other good sources for this info. Thanks again!

  42. Awesome recipe! I referenced your page in my blog about trying to serve up a batch of pinole “brownies.” Like you said, with a little tweaking on the taste this could be a staple on my running diet. I am just curious if you ever followed up with some changes in the original recipe, since I will be trying round two sometime soon.

  43. One of the best books ever written about running. Inspired me to get back to distance running and even helped me enormously with form and attitude. Iskiate is best with orange wedge and a tsp. of clover honey (I think). Very refreshing and I feel like I could run all day.

  44. Thanks for the recipe! Love the book. One thing the book didn’t talk about, but I think is important is the nixtamalization of the corn (he very briefly mentions them washing the corn in lime). But when you nixtamalize the corn it makes the corn form a complete protein. Some experts even speculate that it was the nixtamalization of corn that allowed the Mayans to be so successful because of the superior nutrition they received. Anyway, if you used nixtamalized corn with this recipe I think it would have even more nutritional impact.

  45. Thanks for the info!- Loved Born 2 Run!

  46. I ordered the chia seeds through iHerb anyway even though there was nowhere in sight to find a place to enter your code number for the discount of $5.00. I will do it again if u tell me where to look. Thnx!

  47. Do you know if Chia is related to the basil seeds?

  48. Ran home and tried the pinole recipe as mini-muffins. OUTSTANDING RESULTS! The amounts listed in the article made four minis… which are perfect in a snack zip top baggie and will work great to take on a long run. The only drawback was dryness – the minis were just a bit drier than I would’ve liked, so I’m working that angle, but all in all, I’d highly recommend this route as a way to make the pinole into something race friendly!
    Running like I stole somethin’, Kevin

  49. Sorry… should have added that I used about a half cup of water in the mini muffin mix. It was watery like applesauce when I poured it into the tins, if that helps the visual.

  50. I am just beginning the book and can’t put it down. I’m soooo stoked!!! I will also be purchasing Fuel your Run and the seeds, etc. Recently at mid life trying my hand at vegan (but still eating fish) I know, I know…….

  51. My son-in law’s a runner, & recently asked where I get chia seeds (I’ve been adding a Tbsp of Chia & one of Amaranth to a C of quinoa when I cook a batch)
    He had the Chia Fresca recipe on their fridge, & recently began drinking it, so I came home & made some too – yum!! Today I got maple syrup (grade B) to use in my next batch!
    The Pinole sounds a lot like ‘Robert Rodale’s Corn Pones’ (recipe from Rodale’s Naturally Great Foods) which I made for years: *heat several cups water to boiling * 3 C cornmeal & 1/2 tsp salt in mixing bowl
    * some sesame seeds if you want (& chia 🙂
    * slowly add the water & 1/3 C oil (he used corn, I’d use coconut!!) stir thoroughly – only use enough water to make a firm dough.
    Form 15 cakes when the dough cools, & leave an imprint of your fingers on top.
    Bake 35-40 min @ 375* – done when edges are well bowned.
    This would be great to try using quinoa flour – such a super ‘grain’ (seed in the beet family) & also a favorite in S America. Of course you could make a smaller amount; the cakes or ‘pones’ are very crunchy, & notice they don’t have added sugar.
    I have been making coconut milk kefir for several months, & that’s my ‘usual’ AM drink & Nightcap; now I ‘have to’ drink the chia fresca, too!!
    Thanks for the recipe; & yes, both chia (a Salvia or Sage) & Basil are in the mint family 🙂

  52. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I just read the book and couldn’t put it down. Here is a link to an easy chia pudding recipe. http://swellvegan.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/chia-pudding/

  53. Just bought Chia seeds from iHerb myself, and love them..Gonna try some of your recipes now, thanks!

  54. It seems that there is sometimes a confusion when it comes to making so-called Tarahumara pinole recipes.
    What I saw and ate during trips in the Sierra Tarahumara (before ‘the’ book, before it’s was fashionable) was made with toasted corn flour, not corn meal. Both work just fine to make a meal. But using corn flour would answer your comment ” You can add a lot of water to make a drink of it, but I found this kind of weird because the corn didn’t dissolve”. Corn flour will somewhat dissolve (according to how much you use) for a drinkable/gulpable recipe, and will lend itself better for cooking. Toasted corn flour is available as Pinole from Amazon (way too expensive shipping charges) and very cheaply at any tienda/hispanic grocery store. Just ask for it, or for corn flour.

    • Lzn, you’re definitely right about this. When I mention masa harina as a better alternative, that’s corn flour, and it’s nixtamalized (which apparently is the case for the corn the Tarahumara eat). That makes the nutrients more available as well.

  55. The Ancient Brit says:

    Now 82, and having been laid a low with Postate Cancer, but hopefully recovering, I decided at the end of May to do something for me, so I entered and ran the rather famous Del Passatore 100 kms from Florence, in Italy. I had NOT done any training, having had my last surgery at the end of January, had read “Born to Run”,so took some advice from the book, cut out meat and wheat, took lots of fresh fruit and Granola with Chia seeds. Finished the course,took alot longer than anticipated, but what with my age and condition, hey, what the hell, I finished, and not last by a long chalk, would you beleive me when I tell you, I so enjoyed it, and felt brilliant, though tired afterwards, my recovery was amassing, every one said how well I looked, I also have lost a stone in weight, SO ITS CHIA SEEDS FOR THE NEXT TIME, and please God, there will be a next time. Hope that this helps and may hopefully inspire some-one-else.
    Good Luck, keep the faith and run long. The Ancient Brit

    • James D Clarke Jr says:

      Damn Brother….You motivate the Hell Outta Me!! Thank you for your post and for being one more mentor to me. I’m 41 and I know that with men like you doing what they do, believing in themselves like you, there’s no excuse I could ever have, and I can never fail….I just can’t stop believing. I’ve always felt that we humans have way more ability than we have belief in ourselves. Are body is like the most-screwed Teammate in History. It gets quit on over and over. Thanks again Brother! J.D.

      • Thanks for the reply ansd comment, HEY, you can do anything you wish in life, you just have to WANT BIGTIME, have faith in yourself.Im flying over to your side of the Pond in May, running in the Strolling Jim 40 at Wartrace, TN, then back home, and at the end of May, Guess what, Yup, Im going to have another go at the Famous “Del Passatore 100 km Race” trying to half the last years time, all I got to do is finish.
        Remember. Keep the Faith, and just Run.
        The Ancient |Brit

        • J.D. Clarke Jr. says:

          Thanks for the reply! What a way to start my day! Thank you again. Good Luck on your run which is really to say “Just have fun cuz I know you don’t need Luck!”:) And Hey, you’re not an Ancient Brit, you’re just one of my Older Brothers that I look up to in the Tribe. Take care Brother and see ya around! J.D.

          • Hi JD, Thanks, and you just keep the faith, fancy joining me in Wartrace in May, its only a 40 miler, amassing things happen to your mind when you run long miles, for me, at the end of a 100 miler/or 100kms, I am so spaced out, and I love every one, my wife tells the Grandchildren, “If you want something from your Grandad, ask him after a long run”.
            Cheers Bro. The Ancient Brit.

    • James Clarke says:

      Mr. A Brit:)
      Be honored to join you on that and thank you for the invite! I checked up on that run as I was really hoping it was a trail race (these last few years I’ve really gotten away from roads….) and was delighted to find it was so. I’ve recently manufactured myself some homemade sandals off the internet instructions and been rocking those to most great, and enjoyable benefit! I wish I could go back and have back all the years I made my feet captive to those leather prisons. Oh well, such is as it is and the experiences have gotten me to where I am now. I think I could hang with you just fine on this jaunt and my longest run to date has been a personal 54-miler that I ran on my 40th birthday when I was in Afghanistan this past year. It was flat ground (all I had) but I had the delight of mud….mud….mud…for the entire 54 miles as we’d had the largest rainfall the day prior of the entire past 10 months that I’d already been there. I was running it period; this is the weather the Creator gave me and I only have one 40th birthdate. I made it in just under 12 hours. I had no idea what I was doing:) I’d definately be learning from you, which would totally please me, but I wouldn’t be a hinderance. I gotta tell you, I’m not the Ipod-type, the cellphone-type, the GPS watch type, or even the watch wearer. I take only the natural chow with me, but I guess then you also, as we met on this site! Again Sir, I’d be honored, totally. It’s on my calendar now. I’m down here in North Carolina for my last 7 months of my Marine Corps career and then I’ll retire with 21 years and then it’s back to good ole’ TeXas. Can’t wait Sir, and can’t wait to meet you! You can continue as you see need to write me on here or on my email at [email protected] or I’m on Facebook under “James Clarke”….little icon of a guy in a fur skirt with a spear:) Cheers for now! J.D.

    • all of you are very inspiring to me just started running I’m 66 years old and did my first race the turkey trot here in chicago. was worried about injuring myself at my age (o started running because I fell and broke my wrist in five places had to have surgery and could not do anything else but run for some sort of exercise ) My rehab therapist had me read born to run. because I had been running in Merrills for 2 weeks before the race and then got fancy expensive running shoes and started having knee problems. After 4 tries with them returned them back to Merrills new thinking on running for the joy from book. And loving it all. Had been eating chia for years actually sell it myself. and I now have even more love the the tiny seed. thanks all Karyn

  56. Bruce McKillican says:

    I eat a lot more Chia than all of these recipes recommend. I love the stuff and recognize it as a food and not a supplement. While it is a superfood and has tons of qualities its greatest is its ability to bind with other food in the gut and slow absorption of carbohydrates. This is where the sustained energy comes from. I eat around 7 tablespoons a day. I like the texture and add it to peanut butter and on toast. Be sure to drink enough water since it absorbs enough to go 12 times its size. Prices seem to be coming down as suppliers come to market. This is going to help a lot of people.

    • I sprinkled about 1/4 to a half teaspoon on a rolled-up crepe with peanut butter this afternoon and loved the crunchy bits. I had a question with regard to how chia absorbs water… if you eat the dry seeds and don’t drink enough water, could it cause internal issues / dehydration?

  57. I wanted to say thank you for your great site and this post. I just discovered it today and this is wonderful for two reasons.
    1. I was reminiscing about reading Born to Run and wondering how the heck to get my hands on Chia and/or make pinole, and
    2. For World Vegan Month I have committed myself and my husband to meatless Mondays for the entire month of November.
    Your site helped me with both and I put your link in my blog (http://SearchingForSustenance.blogspot.com) today. I don’t have a lot of followers, but I wanted to spread the word about your coolness!
    Thanks so much. I have to order up some Chia and get to work, but more importantly for now, I have to figure out what I’m cooking tomorrow (it’s Monday!!) for my husband so he doesn’t quit on me 🙂

  58. Eric Gustafson says:

    My sister got me the book (born to run) for my birthday. Let me just say that i have never run and had fun in my life. I prefer to eat cheeseburgers and play video games. i am approaching 30 now and am always tired. That book took me by complete surprise and couldn’t put it down. I bought a pair of 5 fingers, made my own huaraches and just ordered white chia seeds from iherb.com. The book was inspirational on so many levels and now recommend it to anyone i can. Looking to change my life around for the better starting now. I plan on getting this cookbook also and cant wait to make some cool grub!!!

  59. re: corn…

    in case you’re not aware…

    unless the corn is organic, you can bet your chia – it’s GM (genetically modified)

    re: chia… how come dept…

    earlier today i put some chia in water and just moved it around a bit. it at all day and never dissolved.

    how to get it to dissolve?

    i finally just gave up and gulped it down – flavorless…

  60. Inspired by NMA I just used Chia seeds for the first time. I used them in this raw smoothie. Worked rather well. I feel very satisfied which is always good!


  61. I ordered the white chia seeds from iHerb using your link. I have read many blog provided recipes and always have a nagging thought in the back of my mind that they were just cut and paste jobs. However, with the photos provided, the whole article just oozed authenticity. I also appreciated the honest self promotion. Such honesty, along with the authenticity I perceived, made me happy to use the links. I also appreciated knowing the seeds were heirloom and authentic.. you always wonder as soon as you read how some companies replace the actual items with something else and label it as authentic. Good job! If I like the seeds and the pinole recipe, I will have to come back for the book. Thank you!

  62. I just made a batch for my husband. I used masa because it is treated with lime and more digestible. I used 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of organic sugar and added 1 tablespoon of raw cacao and 2 tablespoons of finely milled golden flax. The flax to help it hold together without crumbling and the cacao because it goes so well with cinnamon and is a great Mexican/South American combination. One cup of water made a nice paste consistency and I was able to make eight large cookies/bars. They were a hit. They did not spread so stayed rounded and spongy/soft. He loved them. Thanks for the inspiration.

  63. Using masa as opposed to cornmeal is very important. Cooking the corn with lime (cal in Spanish aka Calcium hydroxide) makes it much more digestible and also frees up b-vitamins for absorbtion. See nixtamalization: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixtamalization

    And about the basil seeds:
    Both chia and basil are in the Mint family (Lamiaceae) and have evolved seeds which emit short chain starches when dampened. In the wild, this helps the seeds adhere to surfaces and to reserve water. Possibly the starchy substance may also promote the growth of particular types of fungus which help the plant grow.

  64. Thanks for this article, I’m using some of this info in my research paper 🙂

  65. Soooooo I love iskiate and have been drinking it before my morning jog. I adore the energy boost. However has anyone had (ahem) chia induced gas? embarassing? yes. Both me and the significant oth have been a bit…gurgly, to put it politely. Anyway to reap the chia benifits and perhaps reduce the amount of methane we’re introducing into our environments??


  66. RunLover9 says:

    I love to run!!! Recently I read Born to Run and tried the chia seed drink. I am starting middle school track for my school. I was wondering if the Chia Fresca would last in like a water bottle or Thermos all day if I made it in the morning and my track meet was at like 4 in the afternoon?

    • RunLover9 – it would turn into a gel like consistency if you prepared in the monring and left in a water bottle/thermos all day… i’ve left it overnight in the fridge then put the gel in my water bottle and used instead of gu during my long runs… if you don’t mind the gel consistency you should be fine! hope that helped.

  67. J.D. Clarke Jr. says:

    Nothing like tryin’ it out RunLover9….you’d likely be the authority then. I’d recommend mixin’ it thin though for the first time….due to temps you may or may not have any control over until you consume. Besides…at a track meet…you must know…what you consume in an few hours before your event is gonna do little….unless you hit heroin or something…don’t recommend that:) Enjoy…let us know!

  68. Great post. Thanks alot! Not sure if this has been asked and answered, but how long does pinole stay good for once made (either the oatmeal texture or the baked one)? Thanks again!

  69. I just bought Chia today! I thought this was something I would have to order online but my local health food store had it! Now to find Masa Harina here in Norway, that might be a bit more of a challenge…

  70. I am not a runner (used to be, eons ago), but I have been reading “Born To Run” (currently a bit more than half-way through it). I decided to try iskiate just this past morning after reading about it in the book — and it does seem to work; one of my jobs is to load bags of powdered oat fiber (44-60 lb bags) into over-seas shipping containers (those currogated steel “trailers” that can be set on both a train and a truck), and I normally feel like taking a nap after loading a couple of containers in the morning. Today, I was ready to load three more, but my work schedule wouldn’t allow it — I had to get home to get some more sleep to work an overnight shift. I’m going to drink some more iskiate tonight and see how it goes…..

  71. Jennifer says:

    I read Born to Run probably a year ago, and I’ve been hearing about chia seeds ever since. Finally, I bought some yesterday at my local good food co-op. They have an awesome bulk room so I was able to buy a small bag, just to test it out. I was a little concerned about the “snot like texture” (way to sell it Matt!) but it wasn’t like that. I thought it was ligh and fresh tasting with the citrus and honey. AND, I kid you not, as soon as it hit my stomach it cleared up the oogy tummy I’ve had all week long. I’ll be buying more and implementing it in my diet on a regular basis. Next round of marathon training starts Monday, can’t wait to see how it affects my training!
    Great site, thank you Matt!

  72. Hey there,

    Cool website. Just a quick question…might be already asked. When you buy Chia, do you need to grind it? Also, will buying corn flour work as well as getting the corn meal? Thanks so much for your help!

    • Gord U, there’s no need to grind chia. Your body can absorb everything from the whole seed without grinding. For some recipes and drinks, I prefer grinding it, for others, I like it better as whole seed. It just changes the way it gels, a little bit.

      And yes, corn flour is actually much better and more authentic and cornmeal, since corn flour is nixtamalized, which makes the nutrients more bioavailable.

      • Matt.
        Sorry, but you are somewhat incorrect there. The key bennefit of Chia, as you are obviously aware, is the high alpa-linolenic content in the seeds. This is only found in the oil however, and the oil is only released after first being ground, otherwise they will pass straight through your digestive system and you are wasting your time re: any purported health boost.
        And incase you are wondering, my partner is an oil chemist with a PhD in food science, and oil extraction from seeds is her field of speciality.

  73. Tried it certainly does give you a fresh clean energy unlike I have experienced before and maybe it is because many people are on supplements and dont enjoy raw foods that it has such an effect anyway will try it in pinole and see what happens.

  74. Zach Azeez says:

    Do you have any research on how long Native peoples would let the chia stand in the water with lime?

    I’m trying to make sure the phytic acid is broken down before I drink it so I can absorb the minerals chia has in abundance, and soaking in acid water is a tried and true method from around the world for breaking down some of the phytic acid which is in all seeds/grains/nuts/beans.


  75. Mary Wolfe says:

    I don’t want to buy this book as a downloadable e-book, I want to buy an actual book. Is there any way to buy this as a book?
    Chia Girl

  76. I am mostly a raw-foodist…I’m thinking I can dehydrate the pinole snacks in the hydrator? Since you said you cooked the corn…. Anyone else here a RAW FOODIST with some recommendations???

    Love this site!! Thank you!!!

  77. jocelyn says:

    You can get chia seeds on amazon with free shipping. They even ship to AK. Also, the Tarahumara aren’t vegetarians. They eat meat, it says so in the book but they don’t eat a standard American Diet which is full of white flour and sugar and factory farmed meat/fish/dairy/egss. The meat they eat is wild caught and doesn’t make up a large portion of their diet. And what a great idea about chia pudding!

  78. Konrad Hunter says:

    Crumbly Pinole bread Dilemma solution:
    I have read several people wondering how to keep their pinole bread from crumbling.There is a perfect solution to this.

    In conventional breads and cakes, eggs (and wheat gluten) are used as a glue to bind food together.
    In Vegan recipes and especially raw recipes chia or flax seeds may be used as an egg substitute.

    for a simple bread, soak the chia or flax in some water until a thick gel forms. Mix in your pinole and any spices or sweeteners. Spread this a quarter inch thick and throw it in a dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use an oven on low among other options. Look it up if you are not sure.

    To make your bread softer and more flexible ad some blended cucumber to the mix.

  79. Jack the OldSage JockPilot in Green Bay says:

    Mary and others:
    First, as someone who has been on and off the vegan vegetarian list over the years, a former science teacher promoted to Chairman of the Dept. including overall health matters, former newsman and radio talk show host including nationally known experts…my first comment concerns those who call anyone “idiots” just because they do not agree or interpret scientific data differnetly; civility goes a long way in the process of learning to include debate of apparent facts can lead us all to keep learning no matter what our background;
    After getting Born To Run, I immediately ordered a hard copy paperback from http://www.amazon.com
    Finally, also with degrees in history and political science and having taught it, one of my greatest hero’s is Thomas Jefferson who lived to 83 dying July 4, 1826 who once wrote that “meat should be used in great moderation primarily as a flavoring.”

  80. Anyone have any idea how long the pinole lasts after being made? I like to plan ahead. Does it lose anything if I make it a couple days before a race? Also what is the best way to store it?

  81. Someone posted a raw recipe of the pinole…BUT I can’t find it! Help anyone??? I’m probably blind from my long, luna sandal run but I can’t seem to “see~.”

  82. The basic recipe seems kind of boring to me, so I add some vanilla(not much) some nutmeg, some cocoa powder, and of course some dried red chili powder of some kind. The red chili adds some good vitamins and warms me up before the run in the morning.

  83. The pinole does not look like any pinole I have ever had. My familiy is from Tarahumara country in Mexico and pinole is so fine its like powder. People just pour it into a tortilla and eat it like that. They also make it out of another type of string bean off of the mesquite trees. Its call chorupe and in the book it does not specify if its chorupe or corn pinole. I would assume chorupe, since all the time I spent in Chihuahua I only ate chorupe pinole.
    We also drank Tesguino, but my parents had never heard of the iskiate before. They were only familiar with soaking the chorupe seeds in water and drinking it.

    • Hi Bino,

      You’re right; pinole is usually made with masa harina, which is called corn flour, and it’s much finer than corn meal (which is what’s shown in the photos). Masa harina is like a powder, just like you describe. I’ve found pinole to be much better with masa harina than with corn flour.

      • Well I have now finished the book and so I see where it says that the pinole is made out of corn and not the chorupe. My parents said that pinole can be made out of many different seeds. I guess they use corn now since it is more plenty full and easier to pick than the wild chorupe. I have a bag of pure chorupe pinole that my grandma just brought to me last week from Mexio. The people down there are catching on and this book must have started a demand. She said all the old ladies in town will not go out on walks into the country side to look for chorupe so that they can make it into pinole and sell it.

  84. Hey Miles, if you’re a runner and I assume that you are, be careful not to trip over that ego while you’re out burning up all taht sugar.

  85. Great article, Matt. Thanks very much for posting. My wife saw the recipe for the baked version of pinole yesterday and that sounds like a GREAT way to stop purchasing energy bars.

    I’m in the middle of reading Born to Run. He just mentioned (very briefly) the “running monks” in Japan that did ultras everyday for 7 years. I’m assuming they did this in Japan. At any rate, do you know what they ate on the runs? Any Japanese version of this that you’ve seen?

    Thanks again for posting.

  86. pacific_waters says:

    I’m not a runner and I’ve read it! It is a great book. As soon as I ge through some medical stuff I’m on the run, so to speak. God I hate to give away my source for chia seeds! Prices may go up!but here it is, I order them from nutsonline.com. Good prices on all their products. Way cheaper than whole paycheck. Also I wouldn’t use just any old masa. If it ain’t organic it’s GMO and if you read natural news, oops another plug, you know about that!

  87. Chia is amazing but MILA chia is the best since it is a blend of chia so it has the highest levels of Omega 3s, fiber, antioxidants, etc. than any other chia. In independent studies Mila blew the 9 top store-bought chia brands out of the water! Additionally, MILA is cold fractured so the seeds are open and thus more bio-available. The testimonials on this food are amazing. Read more here:

  88. Chia Brownies

  89. Will the Chia Fresca give you a bigger energy boost if you let it sit longer?

  90. I am a quarter Tarahumara Indian female. My father is the half Tarahumara Indian, while my mother is Caucasian. I never realized why I was a great runner when I was younger. My feet even look like the Tarahumara feet. My American diet has done nothing but harm body and athleticism. I am gradually going back to my roots on the fitness level of the Tarahumara.

    Best in yours and my efforts to become super runners.



    Chia its the best ultra runners food, i put chia seeds in everything, even beans four times a day. Chia ROCKS………………… Ultra runner San Francisco calif.

  92. Jennifer E says:

    I just made the chia drink and I felt immediately energized. It was a clean energy that nothing can rival. It was so much better then a coffee buzz that I am going to start drinking this in the mornings before my runs. Its heathy and really provides great nutritional value. Truly a uper food.

    Jenn the Caribbean running fool!

  93. Edmundo Apodaca says:

    I am reading Born to Run as we speak. I started running to quit smoking back in ’78, with some time off from lazyness, and have been running again pretty regular again for several yrs. I am 60 yrs old and hope to run a marathon this year. Reading the book has inspired me and I want to try the chia pinole food. The book is excellent and inspirational. Maybe I’ll try an ultra! It’s been in the back of my mind for sometime. Thanks!! 🙂 EA

  94. I don’t have a copy of Ray Jardine’s “Trail Life” but apparently he’s big into the benefits of corn for endurance exercise too (He’s one of the legendary names in ultralight, long-day backpacking). There’s a set of recipes the community has developed which branch off that which you might be interested in checking out — they go by variations on the name “Moose Goo”

  95. AMAZING! I just finished listening to this book on Audiobook, and it’s really changed my mindset. It has brought to light a lot of things that I had never thought of, but I know now that I was born to run, and it’s the one liberating thing I love to do. It was heartbreaking, though – the day I finished listening to my book I read online that Micah True (Gallo Blanco) had passed away. He will always be an inspiration!

  96. Tim Martinez says:

    Just make sure your cornmeal is non-GMO!

  97. marfen says:

    Been a fan of chia for some time, so I was happy to learn of its general acceptance. I tried the Pinole with cocoa and baked it as suggested to make the brownie type thing and it was palatable. As a vegan, I am used to a lot of plant material, but for some reason this particular combination was ruinous in its internal gas production! Oy! If you want to use this as a secret weapon against those approaching to pass you I highly recommend it.

  98. mark jeffrey says:

    I was looking for masa harina at my local health foods store but could only find masa maseca. Is this this the same thing

    • Masa is corn tortilla dough, Masa Harina is wheat tortilla dough, maseca is probably wheat flour mixed with lard…

  99. Jemma Jelley says:

    I read Born to Run about 18 months ago and it really has inspired me to try to eat more naturally. I use chia seeds most days on my breakfast cereal – soak them in a tub with water and they keep well for a week, so no hassle each morning.
    I tried polenta (I live in the Channel Islands so apologies for the different words), but is this the same as pinole? Is this also the same a ugali though – I’m currently reading Running with the Kenyans by A Finn – really interesting and well written – I would recommend it! I tried baking some ugali but I think my pan was too small – the recipe here looks easier so I’ll give it a go!
    Not always easy to find some of the ingredients over here so have to buy chia seeds, maca powder and hemp seeds on line but well worth it! Many thanks.

  100. I mix about a tablespoon of chia into my breakfast yoghurt with berries, sunflower seeds, choco nibs…

  101. philippa says:

    Loved the book, was interested to find the chia seeds. Just a mix from South Africa….take your typical pap or sadza (cornmeal cooked to a dry moldable consistency, really thick porridge but smooth…lived on this stuff as a kid, would roll balls and dip into gravy or custard etc as snacks)any how mix in seeds, dates, dried fruit, basically whatever you want and put into ziplock bag…great to eat any time on a long run/hike as long as you have enough liquid to wash it down.

  102. Having recently incorporated chia seeds into our family diet, I can’t wait to make the chia fresca tomorrow. Thanks for the great information and recipes!

  103. I bought your cookbook, and I love the pinole/chia recipes that I’ve made so far. My question is, what is the best fueling approach? To me, it seems that Tarahumara approach (slow grains) is diametrically opposed to the Paleo/Veg-Paleo approach, and the practice of running carb-fasted to promote better fat-buring.

    Are they opposed, or is Paleo more appropriate for training, and pinole for racing. I’ve read so much, I am seriously confused. Would greatly appreciate any help.

  104. what about GMO? as we know the possible effect on ours body,and at now all of the corn in the market may be already infected.or should i say they are already infected.

  105. Great book and awesome post! Love the idea that you are including chia in the recipe! I want to encourage more people to have chia in their diets. In case you didn’t know, here’s some awesome facts about chia:

    Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds contains approximately 2400 mg or 1.5 times the recommended minimum levels.

    Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain over 5000mg of Omega 3 and have the highest alpha-linolenic (ALA) percentage of all crops. While two tablespoons of flax seeds have only 2700 mg of Omega 3 and 98-266 mg of lignans.

    What about antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper? Chia has more antioxidants than blueberries and far more than flax seeds.

  106. Matt, I have a question about the corn for Pinole. My understanding is that for the Pinole to truly pack an authentic nutritional punch, it needs to be “heritage corn”. I am no expert here so this is a sincere question. The corn grown by the Tarahumaras would be organic and not the corn that’s being sold now to Mexico. It’s also non-gmo etc. Or, does any corn work?

  107. Hi! I really want to try the Pinole recipe, but I was wondering – do you think Bob’s Red Mill Corn Masa Harina Flour would work well? I would rather use masa harina since it has been treated with lime, but this is all I can find at local stores. (I would rather not order online)

  108. Im currently listening to born to run (amazing book) – but have been eating the chia seeds for a fair while now and I can say they are amazing, one of the few things that I can say makes a definitive difference (especially if you running distance).

  109. Hi All,
    So, been drinking chia seeds bloated in water and felt NO change in energy whatsoever. Biking fourteen or so miles a day on work commute, working 11 hour days. How can there be mythic….epic….accounts of the power of such a thing and it not be experienced? What…a….bummer.

  110. Pinole and chea are eaten all over Mex. All, but 9%, of Mexicans are Native American, and we still eat what has been the 3 principle foods, which have bean the main 3 of Mexico for thousands of year, corn, chili peppers, and beans. We have a high carb diet that has worked well until recently. Changes in the Mexican diet (GMO food, high pesticide /herbicide use, and an invasion if USA style junk food) had really screwed people up in Mex. We eat lots of carbs, that’s why we can work long hour in the fields, and still have enough energy to go to the park to play soccer.

  111. Normally, the Tarahumara don’t have to make pinole on the run. The people on the course feed them. But pinole is what they eat on the run.

  112. Thank you for this! I just finished the [audio]book yesterday. I wrote down the recipe from what I heard but it didn’t really go into measurements or what to look for. I’ve also scavenged the links from this article and put them in my Amazon ‘staples’ wishlist. Thanks again for the time, effort and experimentation to produce these recipes!

  113. Hey! Very cool article. I found it because I am currently reading “Born to Run.” I freaked out when I read what Iskiate is! I loooooooove me some fermented foods. And I love me some superfood powered athletic adventures. I’ve a little of both on me blog! The book said Iskiate was fermented, but these recipes do not call for them being really fermented. Are we saying that any amount of time to let something sit is a ferment? Is there any probiotic content from allowing them to sit longer? If you don’t know and are interested, please let me know and I would be happy to get some research in. 🙂 Run on No Meat Athlete!

  114. It is NOT a placebo effect! Iskiate is one of the most refreshing drinks I have ever tried, both my 19 year old and I love it!

  115. In my country, we usually mix this “chia fresca” with fruits, it’s really refreshing and good for your health of course.

  116. Thomas Heaney says:

    From my understanding, the tarahumara were/are hunter gatherers, with some cultivation. They would drink large quantities of fermented corn drink (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesg%C3%BCino) get loaded up with calories, then run for miles chasing an animal, till the animal dropped of exhaustion!

    • I think they would run very long distances playing a game chasing a small wooden ball. The ball games (and the terrain) were their motivations to run. Where is the evidence that they were ever persistence hunters?

  117. rusty steele says:

    talk about corn meal some stores if one request it sells corn flour about the same consistency as regular flour. hope this is helpful

  118. looks awesome,
    Im gonna upload my own Chili recipe soon, its based on the Tharahumaras, with some crazy spicy peppers and beans, will link here when done.

    Matt’s the shizz.


    p.s.- my blog
    http://www.zeraw2hero.com – cya there

    • Really struggling to find where to buy pinole in the UK? Any recommendations people? I’m sure I bought it from this site a few years back!

  119. I use to run about 150 Miles a month from early days in the Navy and up 49 years old. Corporate job went away on 9/11. And I not longer had the drive. Not such thing as 1 1/2 hours lunches in sales… I would do Marathons, and lots of runs for fun in the desert and mountains. After reading your book and listening to it, I find that I have an urge to run again at 67. Still got legs and ligh on the body. I use to love to gun down or go to guns in the last mile or so with other runners… I was crazy in my forties, thinking and doing runs in the desert with only on water bottle for. Up to 15 miles. I figured it was my training method. Thanks for letting me have your recipe download. Not sure if I would ever go for the long distance thing, but will get my legs to run corectly. I all my years of running, I only had two injuries with the twist of the ankle in sidewalks. Always fell hat I had get back up and run it out!
    In reference to my webpage on helping hunters, in the day it was about running the game down and getting to within close proximity of getting a bow shot or rifle shot, especially Elk. Tks

    Best Regard,
    Frank Biggs aka Bwana Bubba

  120. Craig Brown says:

    Love advice…I add chia to water…let it set for a few hours (shoot even a couple days). I find my seeds develop little gel like packs around the seeds very small but it’s still water with seeds floating into. So I use a half gallon Tropicana bottle 60 oz of water with 5-6 tablespoons of chia (lemon/lime squirts maybe some honey). Did I do it wrong LOL?

    Pinole…recipe provided tried it and just dry dry dry….so I found another recipe and toss in two eggs as a binder…that seemed to help but while it holds together better its still dry…I mean is it supposed to be dry period or how can I get some moistness in there…I mean obviously I don’t want to be munching soft bread but lord biting into a something like a mud/sand packed brick is like the polar opposite….so how do I get somewhere in between really dry cake and moist soft brownie consistency?

    Pinole Iskiate and Born To Run all still awesome

    The mantra was great too…though I altered it to Easy Light Smooth Free :O)


  1. […] wheat pitas.  Mid run snacks can be nuts, vegetables, and avocados.  The No Meat Athlete likes pinole.  Interesting, definitely want to try […]

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