Preserved: Raspberry Lime Chia Jam
I meant to do a cleanse when 2014 rolled around, I really did. But when December actually clicked over to January, I still had a house full of Christmas cookies. Since throwing away perfectly good cookies just for the sake of clearing the decks seemed somehow sacrilegious, well, I didn't cleanse. I also didn't swap meals for juice, and I most definitely didn't diet. But now that February is here and I haven't yet done any of the self-righteous, fresh start-y kinds of things that one is supposed to do at the beginning of a new year, I'm beginning to think that maybe I should add something to enrich my routine.
Chia seeds are one of those health foods that are easy to incorporate into your diet. Despite the fact that few knew them as anything but a houseplant gimmick before a few years ago, they've now managed to work their way into our pantries to be used as a nutritional boost to smoothies, yogurt, and baked goods. They're high in omega-3 fatty acids, chock full of calcium, protein, phosphorous, and fiber, plus they have a neutral flavor so they offer all these health bonuses without adding bitterness or other off-flavors. If you've tried making chia seed pudding, you'll know that they have a unique property whereby they "bloom" when added to liquid, their exteriors absorbing the liquid to form a gel-like texture.
The following recipe for raspberry lime chia jam, though not a shelf-stable preserve, uses that liquid-absorbing property to replace the pectin and white sugar found in more traditional jams. Raspberries, with their own seedy crunch, are a natural match for the delicate pop of the chia, and buying a bag of the frozen fruit feels like a midwinter indulgence. Since this jam is barely cooked, the bright flavor of fresh lime shines through, bolstered by a velvety spoonful of honey to balance the tartness of the fruit.
Though the recipe calls for bringing the berries to a gentle simmer to get the juices going, you could also make this jam raw by using fresh berries or simply waiting for the frozen ones to defrost on the counter. Make it vegan by swapping the honey for maple syrup, or make it even more righteous by omitting the sugar altogether. For me, that might just be a resolution for next January.