I was gifted some lovely blackcurrants yesterday so made some rather delicious blackcurrant and apple chia jam!
I'm really not a fan of adding loads of sugar to sweeten things up and most commercially produced jams are 50% sugar!!
However the sugar does more than just sweeten the jam, it also creates a gel with pectin, and preserves the jam, preventing mould, so this jam won't keep as long but chia seeds do a fine job of creating a firm gel like texture.
So I had a couple of eating apples which were lovely and sweet, also apples contain pectin, a preferred fibre source for our gut buddies!
Blackcurrants are a great source of vit C and anthocyanin, a polyphenol which gives food a purple colour and another one of our gut buddies favourites!
My secret ingredient is inulin, a white powder derived from chicory, which just happens to taste sweet and is another preferred source of fibre for our gut microbes!
You can buy a big bag of Inulin powder from most health food shops or Online. Its such an easy thing to add extra prebiotics and natural sweetness to drinks, bread, cakes and cookies. I bought mine from Grape Tree. However don't go overboard, recommended daily dose is 2 teaspoons. So 2 tablespoons in 2 jars of jam is fine. You will have to add another source of sweetness, in addition to the inulin.
Using chia seeds to thicken the jam adds more fibre, protein and good fats!
I added a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup to add a bit more sweetness but you could add honey, brown rice syrup or coconut sugar, which has minerals!
If you are concerned about adding sugar then the best sugar free option is Stevia, available in powdered or liquid drops. I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners, nor are our gut microbes but Stevia is the best choice available.
So my jam is a feast for my gut microbes, and a treat for my tastebuds without adding loads of empty calories!
Because this jam doesn't contain high levels of sugar, it won't keep as long as traditional jam so
I wouldn't make a big batch. It will only keep for a few weeks in the fridge, so make small batches and if you have lots of blackcurrants or summer berries, then freeze them. Frozen berries work just as well.
Here is my simple recipe.
Ingredients - makes 2 medium jars of jam
Enjoy with sourdough toast, scones or swirled into yoghurt or kefir!
I first discovered nettle seeds a few years ago and have been hooked ever since!
Nettle season is here now, the hedgerows and parks are full of nettles, with lush verdant tendrils of nettle seeds just ready for harvesting!
One of the many things I love about foraging is the fact that different plants are available throughout the year and that different parts of the plants can be harvested at different times.
Nettle is one of those plants! Lush new growth in the spring is perfect for pestos, teas and tinctures, with the vibrancy of spring and its cleansing properties after a long winter.
In late summer, the leaves tend to be tougher, but that's when the seeds appear and nettle seeds have more benefits than the leaves!
Nettle seeds will give you an energy boost like nothing else! If you have lost your zest for life, feeling run down, tired all the time and fed up, then you need nettle seeds!
I have first hand experience of eating 2 teaspoons of fresh nettle seeds and literally buzzing about like a blue arsed fly, being super productive, doing everything on my to do list and loads more, but the downside was I was still awake at 1am!!
So be warned, nettle seeds are potent, especially the fresh seeds, so go easy! The good news is that dried nettle seeds have the same effect but in a gentler way so shouldn't keep you awake at night!
So the benefits are many, nettle seeds support the adrenals, liver, and kidney function. They strengthen skin, hair and nails, are packed with iron, vit C, essential fatty acids, strengthen the blood and are excellent for anaemia. They are incredibly nutrient dense and contain a wide array of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols!
So to state the obvious, nettles are jaggy, they will sting you, so wear gloves when you collect them and take a pair of scissors. It's easier just to cut the nettles and then remove the seeds when you get home.
An interesting fact, there are male and female nettle plants! The seeds grow on the female plants, you are looking for vibrant green tendrils, like my photo. Some nettle seeds are pale and pathetic so don't pick those ones!
When you come home with your bag full of nettles, spread them out and leave them for a few hours for any wee bugs to escape.
Then wearing your gloves, use a pair of scissors to snip the seeds into a bowl, see my photo!
Put the stalks and leaves in your compost bin.
Now you have to dry them. I use my dehydrator set at 40C, and it takes approximately 15 hours.
You can also just dry them in your oven overnight with just the pilot light on or spread them out in a sunny windowsill.
It is essential to make sure they are completely dry before you store them or they will be susceptible to mould.
Then put the seeds into a sieve over a large bowl and literally scrunch them, the seeds will fall through into the bowl and the fibrous stuff will be left in the sieve.
Then just shake the sieve to make sure you have all the precious seeds.
Store in a jar and use them liberally in salads, soups, smoothies and breads!
You can also lightly toast the seeds and use them like poppy seeds.
I make a killer seasoning with mine which I will share in a separate post!
So what are you waiting for, go and find your gardening gloves, a pair of scissors and a bag, and go find some nettle seeds! The fresh air and exercise will benefit body and soul. Connecting with nature is one of life's simple pleasures and foraging is just the best fun, food for free, and the best food, not sprayed with pesticides, just growing wild as nature intended!
What's not to love....?
Feeling a bit fed up with the weather at the moment and as usual I turn to food, for something to do!
I am still enjoying my fun game of adding as many sources of prebiotics to my food as I can, so my wee gut buddies get a treat, and so do I!
So I made some twisty sourdough breadsticks using sourdough discard and added some nettle seeds & sesame seeds.
Decided to go for a green dip so green olives, lemon zest, spinach, chickpeas, thyme, oregano, flat leaf parsley, fermented garlic and my best extra virgin olive oil blitzed in my Vitamix then topped with more nettle seeds became my fab probiotic/prebiotic dip.
Lots of fibre and polyphenols for my gut buddies and plenty of flavour for me!!
Avocado would also work well in this or natural yoghurt or tahini instead of the oil.
The beauty of a dip is you can just add what you have and pile in the good stuff!!
Here is my recipe,
So I used
Simply add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth.
Taste and add more lemon juice if you like more zing and add a touch of salt and black pepper to your taste. Olives are quite salty so I didn't add any salt to mine.
This will tide me over till dinner!
Does anyone else choose food to feed their gut microbes, or is it just me....
🍃 Health educator🍃