By Solana Nolfo, NLC
Sometimes it can take a few rounds to nail healthier versions of classic recipes, but nothing is as easy and foolproof as making a delicious (and super-nutritious) chia jam.
Making jam with chia seeds and antioxidant-rich berries is a healthy home run for two reasons. First, most packaged jams and jellies are filled with refined sugar, and even the healthier “no added sugar” jams at the supermarket are usually sweetened with concentrated apple or grape juice, which can still spike your blood sugar levels. Here, you get to ditch added sugar and reap the many health benefits of chia seeds.
And thanks to their natural gelling ability, chia seeds help to create the perfect fruity spread with none of the complicated equipment or oh-so-time-consuming directions involved in making traditional jams.
Pump Up the Jam: The Health Benefits of Chia
Here’s what you’re getting by going chia.
Chia seeds are loaded with fiber—11 grams per ounce. The soluble fiber makes the seeds absorbent and perfectly suited for creating a jam consistency when added to mashed or cooked fruit, but it also makes them filling and helpful with blood sugar regulation. They also contain insoluble fiber, which helps with digestion.
Chia seeds also deliver many essential minerals, especially calcium (for strong bones and teeth), manganese (vital for calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation), phosphorus (key in the growth and repair of body cells and tissues), magnesium (required for muscle and nerve function), and more. Finally, they’re an excellent source of plant protein, antioxidants, and inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids. As if that wasn’t enough, chia seeds are a prebiotic food, which means they feed the good bacteria that keep our gut health in check.
(Photo: Solana Nolfo)
How to Make Chia Jam
Chia seed jam is easy to make, and the recipe is really more of a guideline. You can add fewer seeds for a looser consistency and even omit the lemon juice if you don’t have it, although the acidity helps to maintain the bright berry color. If you want to dial up the tangy citrus flavor, you can certainly add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice or opt for lemon or orange zest.
Try creating the jam with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, a berry combo, or any favorite fruit. This is a perfect time to opt for frozen fruit and you can even add herbs like basil (delicious with strawberry) or spices like cinnamon (fabulous with blueberry.) A dash of vanilla extract is also a fun addition to any fruit jam but especially lovely with raspberries or blueberries. I like to include one date to mellow out any tartness from the berries but if your fruit is super sweet, leave it out. If you prefer a sweeter jam, add another date or consider a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
Enjoy the jam on toast (or sweet potato “toast”), mix it into plain yogurt, use it on your pancakes, or enjoy on its own. Happy chia jam making! Get the full recipe, here.
Solana Nolfo is a holistic health coach and wellness advocate who is Nutritious Life Certified and also certified by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is an active baker who enjoys developing recipes for empowered baked goods that feature nutrient-rich, real food ingredients. Solana also has over 15 years of expertise in marketing and communications. She received her BA from Barnard College, where she was an active student leader and graduated with honors. She credits her San Francisco-based mom with encouraging her to live a Nutritious Life; she used to be embarrassed of her school lunches (seaweed, always!) but is now proud of her trendsetting roots. Solana lives in New York City with her husband and cookie-loving twin sons and bakes something with bananas almost every weekend. For baking inspiration, follow her on Instagram at @solanastar.
(Featured Photo: Shutterstock)