Chia up with jam

My son recently declared “I just love jam”. It made us all laugh as we hadn’t actually been talking about jam at the time, it was just a random statement that came from nowhere. Of course!

Mind you, he does have a point. I particularly like a rustic homemade conserve jam-packed (excuse the pun!) with ripe fruit. Of course, the problem with jam is it’s high sugar content, the key ingredient for preserving the fruit. Once a jar is open, how to resist eating it all at once?

According to food trend pundits, ‘low sugar’ is going to be a key feature in 2017. Eating a mainly whole food plant based diet, my sugar tends to come in it’s natural form; I try to avoid highly refined sugars partly because of the strain it puts on the body, but mainly because I seem to be particularly susceptible to sugar lows if I eat anything with high levels of the white stuff. I become more ‘panicgry’ than ‘hangry”, not a pleasant experience!

And being the beginning of the year with many people resolving to eat better and/or lose weight, I figured some healthy ‘jam’ would be just the thing to keep the spirits up.

If you haven’t come across chia seeds yet, then this is a good recipe to start with as it’s so simple. Chia seeds are tiny nutrient dense seeds that are a fabulous source of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fibre and and other nutrients like manganese, magnesium and various vitamins. You only need a small amount as they swell in fluid, softening and releasing all the goodness hidden within. This swelling thickens up the fruit purée, creating the jammy consistency you want in a fruit conserve. Chia seed jam works best with berries as they contain their own seeds – apricot jam might look a bit odd with lots of swollen seeds in it.

I like to use frozen mixed berries for my jam, but raspberries by themselves are also lovely. And that’s it, no sweetener or other flavours. This can make it a bit tart, but you can really taste the real fruit flavour.

Once made, you can use it wherever you would use jam; on porridge, toast, rice pudding, ice cream, yoghurt (all dairy free versions of course!), in cake fillings, on meringues, scones or rice cakes – on whatever you like really!

Of course, the thing to bear in mind is that without the added sugar, chia jam doesn’t have the same
shelf life as a normal jar. It keeps fresh in the fridge for 5 days or so, that’s if a resident jam lover doesn’t finish it all in one go.

So give this a go; one of my key rules of eating well is never to feel deprived. So it you’re on a New Year health kick, this will definitely hit the jam spot!

Chia seed jam
150g frozen berries of choice ***
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
30-45ml water
Place the frozen fruit into a saucepan, add the water and simmer until fully defrosted and soft. Mash any remaining whole fruit into a pulp. Add a little more water if needed, Stir in the chia seeds, simmer for a minute, then turn off the heat. Leave to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a small bowl to cool completely. Once cool, it
should be thick and gloopy. Transfer to the fridge, or eat straight away. Enjoy!

** In the summer, if you have a glut of fresh berries, make up a big batch of jam then divide into portions and freeze to use when berries are not in season.

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