I’ve always been more a consumer of honey than jam, so since being on the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan since the beginning of the year I’ve been looking to create an acceptable (sugar-free) substitute to spread on my pancakes or stir into my morning yoghurt.
Try as I might, I don’t think I can ever recreate something that rivals the natural deliciousness of honey – but with this latest recipe, I think I’ve come pretty close to creating a perfect sugar-free (and THM-friendly!) jam.
And it’s so simple – just some berries (as it’s the middle of winter, I used frozen) a sweetener of your choice (I used xylitol – you could probably also try Truvia or erythritol) and chia seeds.
Chia seeds – they are, of course, the magic ingredient in this recipe. In fact, they’re a magic ingredient full stop, as they’re jam packed with 19 different amino acids and are high in Omega 3s (you really want more of those in your diet).
I have to admit, I’ve had some in my cupboard for a while, trying to decide what to do with them. I’ve seen chia seeds soaked in clear liquids and after half an hour or so they come to resemble a gelatinous frog spawn. It’s not a good look!
Don’t let that put you off though, as chia seeds’ gelatinous qualities are really what makes them so versatile. You can use them to thicken sauces, or your morning smoothie (grind them to a powder before adding), as a substitute for eggs in some recipes, or to make this jam. This gel also high in dietary fibre and acts like an intestinal broom through your digestive tract, sweeping up all the bad stuff. It’s also believed it acts to slow down the rapid break down of carbohydrates in the body.
Check out this great post on Food Matters for 10 great ideas for using your chia seeds.
A few other nutritional facts about chia seeds:
They contain around 8 times more Omega 3 than salmon
They consist of around 20 per cent protein
They have seven times more vitamin C content than oranges, and three times more iron than spinach
They’re far higher in antioxidants than blueberries
They help to balance blood glucose levels levels
All in all, they really are super seeds, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get round to using them.
And so, to the jam making which, you’ll be glad to hear, doesn’t involve hours stirring a heated pot waiting for the jam to turn. Ten-15 minutes on the stovetop, followed by a few hours in the fridge will do it.
I’d advise making it in small quantities, as I have done below, and not keeping it longer than five days or so in the fridge. It’s not packed full of sugar as a preservative, so it’s best to eat it as fresh as possible.
Omega berry jam (fills around ¾ of a regular jam pot)
100g fresh or frozen berries
2 tsp xylitol (you can play around with the quantity of sweetener you use – this level produces a more tart, less sweet jam, which is the way I like it)
A few drops of vanilla essence
3 tsp chia seeds
Put the berries in a pan and just cover with water. Heat gently and stir in the xylitol and add the vanilla essence. Let it bubble away gently until the fruit starts to turn into a sauce.
Take off the heat and cool a little by transferring to a glass container (I used one of my old Bonne Mama jam jars) before stirring in 3 tsp of chia seeds. You can experiment with the amount of chia seeds, depending upon whether you want more of a sauce-like consistency for pouring over pancakes or something a little thicker for spooning.
Leave to develop in the fridge for a couple of hours. It will never be as thick set as a normal jam, but you’ll certainly get something that passes quite respectfully for jam! I’m currently loving it served with cream cheese on my fluffy low carb pancakes.