I cannot get enough cranberries for some reason this season! I crave them. It all started around Thanksgiving with my Hall of Fame Cranberry Sauce, which was so good that I started putting it on my toast in the morning. Then the New Year hit and I wanted a healthier version, so I came up with this Cranberry Chia Jam recipe. This awesome recipe is sweetened naturally & packed with 2 superfoods; cranberries and chia seeds.
Cranberries are so very healthy. According to WebMD:
Cranberries have vitamin C and fiber, and are only 45 calories per cup. In disease-fighting antioxidants, cranberries outrank nearly every fruit and vegetable–including strawberries, spinach, broccoli, red grapes, apples, raspberries, and cherries.
One cup of whole cranberries has 8,983 total antioxidant capacity. Only blueberries can top that: Wild varieties have 13,427; cultivated blueberries have 9,019.
Cranberries are amazing, but being as tart as they are, it is tempting to use sugar to sweeten them up. There is a reason my Hall of Fame Cranberry Sauce is so good, and that is the 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar in it! I am really trying to detox from sugar so I had to find a way to keep my cranberry -jammed toast habit, but dump the sugar.
My solution was to sweeten the recipe up with honey or maple syrup instead of brown sugar, and cut the amount of sweetness way down. Another way I added some sweetness is by using the juice of the orange. The recipe calls for grated orange peel, so it made sense to use the juice from the orange as a natural sweetener.
Using juice and a liquid natural sweetener made the cranberry mixture a bit too runny after cooking, so my solution to this was chia seeds! I was giddy to think that not only would they thicken the jam and act as pectin would in regular jam recipes, (chia seeds swell and turn gelatinous) but they would add more health benefits on top of my toast!
Here are a few reasons why chia seeds are my favorite seed:
~5 times the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that helps transfer calcium to bones
~8 times the omega 3’s found in salmon
~3 times more iron than spinach
~2 times the amount of potassium than bananas
~more antioxidants than found in blueberries
~the are a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids
~can be stored for years without deterioration of flavor or color
My Morning Toast Habit
I am in a major morning toast habit. I have found my favorite bread from Sam’s called Dave’s Killer Bread, and it is full of seeds and nuts and all kinds of organic goodness. It has 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber & 670mg of Omega 3’s due to all of the great flax and pumpkin seeds in it. I make 2 slices so all of that goodness doubled. I like to use a softer bread for sandwiches, unless they are grilled or Panini pressed, but this bread is delicious with just a touch of sweet & makes wonderful toast. I buy it in bulk and freeze it. I take it straight from the freezer to the toaster. You can buy it here on Amazon or at Sam’s.
I use either Earth Balance spread or organic butter…whatever we have on hand. We do not drink milk around here but I have added some organic animal products back into our diet. We just do better health- wise with some good organic animal fats & protein, and it especially seems to be a positive thing for our family when it comes to brain health– but that is another post!
Cranberry Chia Jam As A Gift
Here is where I have to make a confession. I had a jar of my Hall of Fame Cranberry Sauce all packaged up and ready to give to my sweet neighbors during the Christmas season. They always give us great home-baked goods and I wanted to send a little something their way, too. I even shared a picture of it on my New Nostalgia Facebook page. I made a jar for them and a jar for us. Confession: I ate the jar for us… and the jar for them. I know! I know! I just couldn’t imagine my toast without cranberry sauce on top and mine ran out so I just had to open their jar and help myself.
Because of my selfishness, our poor neighbors didn’t get a gift until New Year’s…ok…I confess, I delivered it just yesterday. But, I feel like it all worked out well. They are very health conscience, so it felt great to give them my Cranberry Chia Jam instead of the sugar-filled Hall of Fame Cranberry Sauce, and last night I got a text from my neighbor letting me know he was looking forward to toast in the morning. I did have to dump the original Christmas packaging idea, and instead added a fun polka dot tag and a little hint of sparkle, as New Year’s day really was not THAT long ago, right?
Cranberry Chia Jam Recipe
makes 1 pint
2 cups fresh or frozen organic cranberries, sorted and rinsed
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Peel of one orange, grated (or 2 clementines) I use the fine side of this grater.
Juice of one orange (or 2 clementines)
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
Add all but chia seeds to a medium saucepan.
On medium heat, let the cranberries pop and cook, 7-9 minutes, mashing and stirring as they cook.
Let cool, then stir in the chia seeds.
Store in a jar. Jam will thicken upon standing.
This will keep for about a month in the refrigerator.
Do you love the taste of cranberries?
Do you use chia seeds? How?
Did you make any homemade gifts this holiday season?