Once upon a time my absolute, all-time favourite breakfast was a hunk of crusty white baguette smeared with strawberry jam accompanied by a strong coffee. This, ideally with a bowl of strawberries and a pain au chocolat, was a regular birthday breakfast, and something I indulged in often after we move to France (because Bonne Maman).

When I was in hospital after having Noah the food was terrible; unidentified, grey lumps of meat and overcooked vegetables, but each morning’s breakfast felt like a treat and was – you guessed it – white bread, jam and black coffee. In hindsight I’m amazed the hospital ever deemed this a suitable breakfast for breastfeeding new mothers recovering from giving birth, as it is low in protein, fat, fibre and nutrients, high in sugar, and scores high on the glycemic index, meaning that whilst it may give you an initial burst of energy, you’re likely to crash just a few hours later.

Thankfully, this isn’t the case with my new obsession: chia jam. Instead of using a ton of sugar (traditional jams often contain more sugar than they do fruit) and relying on pectin-rich fruits, these fresh jams combine fruit and chia seeds, with a little sweetener if desired, to create an altogether fresher, nutrient-rich version.

What are chia seeds?

Lauded as a superfood, chia seeds are nutrient-dense and energy boosting. From the Mexican Salvia Hispanica¬†plant, they were a staple in the ancient Aztec and Mayan diets, and were even used as currency. They’re rich in Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA),the plant-form of Omega 3, and are high in protein, fibre, vitamins A, B, D and E, calcium, iron and magnesium. They’re also one of nature’s richest anti-oxidant foods. They support the heart and digestive system, promote healthy skin and reduce signs of aging, and have been linked to the reversal of type 2 diabetes.

Chia seeds’ combination of fat, protein and fibre means they’re digested relatively slowly, providing a slow release of energy and helping to keep blood sugar levels stable.

Like all small seeds they’re better absorbed if ground, and soaking them increases their bioavailability. Their high level of omega 3 fatty acids make them a great option for anyone following plant-based diet (walnuts and ground linseeds are good, too), and they can also be used as an egg replacement in baking.

Chia seeds are super absorbent, and when soaked have a gel-like consistency. Here, they soak up the juices from frozen berries to create a fresh ‘jam’. As we’re not using traditional preserving techniques these jams will need to be stored in the fridge, in sterilised jars, where they will be good to eat for up to 5 days. I add a little natural sweetener, but it is just as good without.

Try chia jam on wholegrain toast with nut butter for a healthier PB & J, dolloped on porridge and overnight oats for breakfast, or on crackers at snack time. Henry and Noah love chia jam, and I love that they can have second spoonfuls without worrying about the sugar content. I’ve made three versions, each using frozen berries. Frozen berries tend to be cheaper than fresh (buy organic if you can), are available all year round, and the liquid they release when defrosting helps the chia seeds work their magic. I’ve used ground chia seeds, ground in a spice grinder, although you can buy ready-ground chia seeds, but you could use whole seeds – the resulting texture reminds me a little of raspberry jam.

Blueberry & Lemon Chia Jam

250g frozen organic blueberries
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
2 tbsp maple syrup
finely grated zest and juice of half a lemon, preferably unwaxed

 

Raspberry & Vanilla Chia Jam

250g frozen organic raspberries
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

Strawberry & Orange Flower Water Chia Jam

300g frozen organic strawberries
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp orange flower water*

It is best to start making your chia jam the night before you want to eat it. Add the frozen berries to a large, sterilised jam jar**, then sprinkle over the chia seeds, maple syrup and lemon, vanilla or flower water. Let sit for about 30 minutes, then crush the fruit with the back of a fork to release the juice. Then, give your jam a good stir, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight. The next morning stir again before serving.

We have six plum trees and I always freeze some. I think plum and ginger jam would be lovely, especially dolloped on porridge in autumn and winter.

If you try making one of these jams please leave a comment to let me know what you think! If you share your creation on Instagram please tag #afterhenry on Instagram so I can take a look.

 

Emma xx

 

*Orange flower water is beautifully fragrant and pairs well with strawberries. There’s a gorgeous dish I used to make when we first moved to France called Fraises Mam Goz, a Breton recipe that steeps strawberries in a red wine and orange flower water syrup. It is stocked in supermarkets in France. In the UK look for it in the baking section of large supermarkets, or buy online.

**The easiest way to sterilise jars is to run them through the dishwasher. Be sure to pot your jam will the jars are still warm. I have a ton of these, which have plastic lids and are great for portioning individual servings of overnight oats for breakfast, transporting smoothies and storing quick pickles.

As always, Buy Whole Foods and Holland & Barratt are good stockists of seeds, wholegrains, nuts, dried fruits and much more.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using one of these links.

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