Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Power of Chia and The Easiest Jam Recipe Ever

 Chia seeds have been making their way into health food stores over the last few years, but odds are you're more familiar with chia pets.  Either way, we are talking about the same seeds.  Those tiny black seeds that sprout and create "hair" for your chia pet can do wonders for your health.

 Chia seeds were once a staple food of the Aztecs and Mayans and are still commonly consumed in Mexico in the form of a drink called Chia Fresca. I've been told that Aztec warriors used to use chia seeds for rations because such a small amount of chia sustained energy and provided lots of nourishment.

 Like flax seeds, chia seeds are rich in Omega-3s.  But unlike flax, Chia does not have to be ground first in order to digest.  Chia is full of antioxidants, nutrients, and fiber and has a long shelf-life so you don't have to worry about freshness.

 You may be wondering, if chia is so healthy, why am I just now hearing about it?  Chia actually has an interesting history.  When the Spanish came to Latin America, they banned the Aztec and Mayan people from farming chia as they believed it was too closely associated with their non-Christian religions.  This led to chia nearly disappearing as a food source.  Now that scientists are discovering all of the health benefits, chia is making a major comeback.

 One neat thing about chia seeds is that they gel when mixed with liquid.  This makes them wonderful for making raw puddings, jams, and for thickening recipes without adding flour, dairy, cornstarch, or gelatin.  Try sprinkling chia seeds on fruit or yogurt or in smoothies to start out.  Or if you are interested in going a step further with chia, try this recipe for blueberry chia jam or check out this recipe on my blog for a Pudding Parfait.

 I chose blueberries for this recipe because they are delicious and in season, but it will work with most fruits.  I've made it with peaches and blackberries and they were delicious, but blueberry is my favorite. When berries are no longer in season you can still make this with frozen fruit.  This is a great recipe for using up any fruit that is starting to get overripe.

Raw Blueberry Jam


2/3 cup blueberries 
1 heaping tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp raw honey or other sweetener (Optional. I only use sweeteners if the blueberries are really tart)

Put ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix into a puree.  At first the mixture will be runny (but still delicious), but after an hour or so it will be gelatinous like jam.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  

Eat this jam on toast with raw nut butter or add it into oatmeal.  Or just eat it straight out of the jar! It's good for you!

With joy and gratitude,

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