This one has been a long time coming. Earlier last year, I received an unsettling call from the doctor’s office after a routine visit. Don’t worry, I am completely fine. I am, however, as neurotic as ever. I’m also a natural-born researcher, so I dove straight into the internet for more information. It’s better to do something than to do nothing, you know?
I opened at least fifty tabs to read the latest research about the cancer-fighting, insulin-stabilizing, life-giving powers of whole foods. Food really can be the best medicine—or at least, the best preventative medicine. I love that blogging allows me to promote whole foods via delicious recipes. I don’t talk much about nutrition since I’m not a dietitian, but here we go!
I zeroed in some fascinating phytochemicals called ellagic acid, which is found in strawberries, raspberries and other (mostly red-skinned) fruit, and curcumin, which is found in turmeric. The beneficial effects of curcumin are magnified significantly when consumed with black pepper. (Interestingly enough, both turmeric and black pepper are frequently used together in Indian cooking, and Indians have far lower rates of cancer than we do here in the United States. Coincidence?)
Both show a lot of promise in preventing and fighting cancer, among other rather miraculous attributes. I resolved to eat more raspberries and take curcumin supplements. I really don’t eat enough fruit as it is, and figured the supplements couldn’t hurt.
Raspberries posed some problems. For one, they’re not in season year-round and they are really expensive when they’re not. Have you ever spent five dollars on a tiny container of organic raspberries, only to find that they’re moldy when you get home? Majorly disappointing. Plus, I’m only one person, and sometimes fresh fruit gets lost in my refrigerator before I can get to it.
One day, I tried defrosting some frozen organic raspberries in my fridge overnight, and surprisingly enjoyed them on peanut butter toast the next morning. They release a lot of moisture when they defrost, which lends them a natural jam-like consistency. Plus, you can buy a big bag of frozen raspberries for the same price as one little container of fresh berries.
I eventually added blueberries for even more flavor and more potent antioxidants, and then I added some chia seeds to absorb some extra moisture and make the mixture more jammy. Bonus: chia seeds offer some extra fiber and some omega-3’s.
Now, my breakfasts aren’t complete without a copious amount of this berry jam, and I’m beginning the day with a couple servings of fruit. I’m not great at advance food preparation, but this berry “jam” couldn’t be easier to make and keeps well for about a week. Just be sure to factor in time for the berries to thaw (about three hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge).
This jam doesn’t taste like traditional, super-sweet jams because it’s made with raw berries, not cooked, and only contains as much sweetener as you want it to. I generally don’t add any. It’s great on toast, like I said, and on yogurt (perhaps with granola) and chia seed pudding. Also pancakes, waffles and bagels. I’m not sure it’ll be everyone’s “jam,” (sorry), but I’m really into it. Please let me know what you think of it!
Easy Berry Chia Seed Jam
- Prep Time: 3 hours 10 mins
- Total Time: 3 hours 10 mins
- Yield: 2 ½ cups
- Category: Condiment
This easy chia seed jam recipe is made with defrosted raw blueberries and raspberries (no cooking required)! Eat more nutritious berries with this healthy jam. Recipe yields 2 ½ cups.
- 10 to 12 ounces (around 2 ½ cups) frozen raspberries, preferably organic
- 10 to 12 ounces (around 2 ¼ cups) frozen blueberries, preferably organic wild blueberries
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons orange juice (about ½ medium orange, juiced)
- Up to 4 tablespoons maple syrup (optional), to taste
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the frozen raspberries and blueberries, chia seeds and orange juice. Cover and let the mixture defrost for about three hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator (the front of the bottom shelf in the fridge is the ideal spot for defrosting, since it’s generally the warmest area).
- Once the berries are defrosted and soft, use a potato masher (or the back of a big spoon or serving fork should work) to mash up the mixture to your desired consistency. I like some texture in my jam, so I don’t mash it much.
- Taste, and if you’d like a sweeter jam, stir in some maple syrup, to taste (keep in mind that you can always just drizzle maple syrup or honey onto your jam later, if you prefer). If the chia seeds aren’t nice and plump yet, let the mixture rest for about 20 minutes to let them absorb some more moisture.
- I love this jam on toast/pancakes/waffles/bagels, with yogurt and granola, and in chia seed pudding. Store leftover jam in the refrigerator, covered, for about 1 week.
Why buy organic? Conventionally grown berries are generally exposed to lots of pesticides while growing, so organic berries really are worth the extra expense (fortunately, frozen berries are cheaper than fresh!). Organic fruit also tends to be higher in nutrients than conventionally grown fruit (wild blueberries are even higher than regular blueberries).
Change it up: You can use all blueberries or all raspberries in this recipe, but I love to use half of each. I don’t enjoy strawberries nearly as much, but they’ll work. This recipe is really designed for frozen berries, since they naturally release so much of their juices as they thaw. To use fresh berries, you would need to cook them to release enough juices; see this recipe for guidance.
On canning: I am not a canning expert and have no idea if this recipe can be canned safely, so please don’t do it. It’s designed to be a simple, everyday recipe.