Now that the weather is finally warming up and thoughts turn to long summer days filled with fragrant flowers, summer berries and al fresco meals, I'm craving delicious berries!
I'm very much a seasonal person and love the different foods that each season brings and for me raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries invoke lovely memories of warm summer days, eating delicious salads!
I made this jam at my Lighten Up for Spring Workshop and the ladies all loved it, especially when they found out how simple it is to make and how healthy it is, compared to shop bought jams, which are sometimes more sugar than fruit!
All berries are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants which protect us from oxidative damage & keep us looking young.
Purple berries are particularly high in anthocyanidins, a group of flavanoids with many proven health benefits.
Blueberries contain the highest concentration of these and can protect against age related macular degeneration, protect the brain from oxidative damage, promote urinary tract health in a similar way to cranberries and improve digestion due to the soluble and insoluble fibre content.
That's pretty impressive and they taste delicious too!
Lidl were selling lovely blueberries last week for only 59p per pack so I bought loads of them, washed them all then froze them for adding to smoothies, making jam and jellies.
I quite often use frozen fruit, which is almost as healthy as fresh. Its generally frozen soon after picking preserving the vitamins and antioxidants.
I also bought Chia Seeds from Lidl for only £1.99. This is a great deal and its well worth stocking up at that price.
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that pack a real punch in the nutrition department! They are really high in fibre, a great source of protein, omega 3, iron, calcium and magnesium They have the unique ability to absorb lots of water and form a gel so are very useful for making jam and keeping you feeling full. They really don't taste of anything so are ideal to sprinkle liberally on porridge, smoothies, salads, soups or desserts.
So back to the jam! It only has 3 ingredients. Berries, chia seeds and sweetener of choice and it only takes 20 minutes!
A quick note, I used xylitol and rice syrup to sweeten my jam.
Xylitol is a pretty good sugar alternative with 40% less calories than sugar, and a lower GI making it useful for diabetics. It's actually a sugar alcohol and can have laxative effects so I only use it occasionally. It is also toxic to dogs so please don't feed it to your pets, unless you want to kill them!!
Maple syrup and brown rice syrup are my sweeteners of choice but as I said xylitol can be a useful alternative to sugar for occasional use.
So here is the very simple recipe... enjoy...!
MAGICAL CHIA JAM
500g fresh or frozen berries
2 tablespoons chia seeds
3 or 4 tablespoons maple syrup, rice syrup or xylitol
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a medium pan, combine the berries with 3 tablespoons sweetener and bring to a gentle simmer over a medium heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the chia seeds and cook stirring frequently until the mixture thickens, around 15 minutes.
3.Once the jam has thickened a bit, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Add more sweetener to taste.
The jam will thicken more as it cools and will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks.
I've been enjoying my magical jam on my morning porridge with homemade coconut kefir. Its just delicious!
Its also lovely on Coconut Scones, stirred into yoghurt or drizzled on pancakes or ice cream!
.....your health in your hands.....
🍃 Health educator🍃