Chia is an edible seed from the flowering plant Salvia hispanica (which is interestingly a part of the same family as mint), and is native to Mexico and parts of South America.
Its uses date far back to Aztec and Mayan cultures, where it was widely cultivated and eaten, and often portrayed as an energy-booster in folklore – so much so the word chia translates to “strength” in Mayan.
They may have been on to something with this, because despite their incredibly small size, they pack a mighty nutritional punch:
Soluble Fibre Chia seeds are rich in soluble fibre (two tablespoons provide around 11 grams of fibre. Women are recommended to have around 25 grams fibre/day and men 30 grams fibre/day). This high fibre content gives chia seeds their ability to absorb water (around 10-12 times their weight), which helps slow digestion in the body, leading to feelings of fullness. Side culinary note – their water-swelling capacity also means they act perfectly as an gelling agent in foods. When added to liquids they swell up, creating puddings (sort of like a tapioca pudding) or in this recipes case a thick jam!
Plant-based omega-3 and protein They’re also a source of plant-based source of omega-3, protein (around 20% in weight), as well as a plethora of nutrients vital to a healthy body, such as antioxidants which help fight free-radicals, and micronutrients; including calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorus and zinc.
Chia jam ediquette
Enjoy this as you would with any jam – smear over warm toast, add to plain unsweetened yoghurt, dollop overtop of porridge, or spoon over pancakes.
Only thing to keep in mind, this is different to jam on the storage front. It’s not preserved with a high sugar content, like regular jam, meaning you have to keep it in the fridge where you’ll get a good half a week out of it – but I am sure it won’t last that long!
1cupfresh or frozen berries e.g. strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries…
1Tbspmaple syrup or honey
1heaped Tbspchia seeds
Add fruit, sweetener and water to a pot. Stir over a low heat, until the mixture starts gently bubbling.
Take off the heat and gently mash mixture together with a potato masher (mash it less if you want a pulpy jam).
Add in chia seeds and stir well. Leave for a few minutes as the jam begins to "set" (or rather the chia seeds begin to swell up and form a thick mixture).
This recipe makes quite a small serving - I tend to make a smaller amount as this is a ‘fresh’ jam, not preserved with a high sugar content so you must eat it over the course of a week and store it in the fridge. Triple the recipe it if you'd like a full jam jar, as pictured.