Monday, January 16, 2017

Immunity Boosting Berry Chia Jam

There are seemingly many days in the winter months (in Michigan at least) that are cold, dark, dreary and just make you feel like your in a hibernating hole. Then there are days when the winter sun shines bright all day from the rise to the sunset- which is only for like 8 hours- but still a glorious sight. You may be a summer-lover, and I totally understand- I am too! But I have also been falling deep in love with the winter. The season to recharge from the buzzing around and the busy energy of spring and summer. It is also still a great time to get outside (while very bundled up!) and walk in the woods or by water or in the fresh falling snow. You will then notice a very still and quiet space there as well. Such a magical and emotional world to tap into the soul.

Winters can also bring on an onslaught of emotions and energies. It is a good time to rest, recharge, stay cozy and nourish one's self in many ways. It is a time to bring inward more ways of quiet, stillness, and calm to your life. Some of these little steps I take are through... deep breathing, yoga and meditation, warm tea and journalling, outdoor walks, epsom salt baths, nourishing soups that last for days, and homemade bread and jam.
I find myself wanting to make bread in January. I look back in my recipe archives in the brain and elsewhere ;)... and that is when most of my bread recipes are inspired and created. I think it must be a reflection of the desire to be nourished during these slower days inside. Bread is a symbol, and rightly so, as a staple to life. A daily blessings and gift to fulfill the basic needs of hunger.  And like you know as being a gluten-free friend- this got super tricky after the diagnosis. Bread became the enemy and the source of mockery for your life. I felt that same way until I finally restored this belief after stumbling into the making of my bread. It brought a kind of redemption to the story for me.
And....when you have a favorite bread recipe that brings life to your being- it only gets better with jam. And this jam fits the bill this winter being packed full of nutrient dense and immune boosting ingredients. Ginger, oranges, elderberry, honey, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries...it's basically a medicinal antidote to the cold and flu season if you ask me.

In the jam, I use berries that I dug out of the deep freezer in the basement. I'm sure you remember my July and August posts of picking fresh berries and unintentional bragging of my bounty. All that work is really for occasions and recipes such as this. It's so lovely to pull out berries and have a little taste of summer in the winter. It is like a little reminder with each bite that summer is coming again and also brings a full heart of gratitude for the months past of gathering the bounty of berries.
Immunity Boosting Berry Chia Jam Recipe
2 cups of frozen blueberries
2 cups of frozen cranberries
2 cups of frozen strawberries
1 cup of very concentrated elderberry tea*
1/2 cup of juice (I used Antioxidant Force by Smart Juice) but you could use pomegranate or other no sugar fruit juice like cherry, berry mix, or grape. Or at the least you could use water as well.
2 TB of grated fresh ginger
1 organic orange grated for zest and squeezed for juice (could easily sub a lemon)
1/3 cup of pure raw honey
drizzle of maple syrup (or add 1/4 cup more of honey)
pinch of sea salt
pinch to 1 ts. of pumpkin pie spice blend
1/2 cup of whole chia seeds

*Soak 1/2 cup of dried elderberries in 1 quart jar of boiling water and let sit for overnight or longer and then drain the berries out and you have elderberry tea. You could also sub in some already made elderberry syrup if you used up your berries already making that and have it on hand- but you would only use 1/2 cup of the elderberry syrup and add 1/2 cup water. And since the honey is in the syrup as well you may decide to not add as much honey in the rest of the recipe. 


In a medium saucepan, pour in the 6 cups of frozen berries with the tea and the juice and let cook to defrost and get soft. Then add in the ginger and orange juice and zest and bring to a soft boil and bubble and cook from any where to 10-15 minutes until the berries are very hot, juicy and mushy. Then use an immersion blender to blend in half of the mixture to be more smooth and have less chunky fruit. After this it looks like a fruit soup. Then add in the honey and syrup and stir well while it softly bubbles and boils. Turn off the heat and then add in the chia seeds. Stir in well so not to be clumpy and then let it sit in the pan and cool and let the chia seeds soak up the moisture and turn into a thick jammy substance. When it cools for 10-15 minutes you can pour into jars to continue to cool and thicken in the fridge. This recipe makes 3 pint jars. You can half it if you are looking to make less or you can also freeze and then thaw out when needed.

Hope you are staying warm and cozy and finding new levels of love for winter.
Much love and light, xoxo

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