Now that we're clearly into berry season, it's the perfect time to make really good use of these beautiful fruits. They're probably mostly used in fruit salads, desserts, and smoothies, but they're also a great basis for jam. The jam we make is not the conventional kind (a neighbour once remarked that there's nothing conventional about the two of us! A compliment, surely?) Our jam is super simple, uncooked and highly nutritious. If you have these three ingredients, you can make omega jam:
A cup of fresh berries (or frozen and thawed)
Approx half a cup of date paste*
2 tsp chia seeds
Mash the berries and date paste together with a fork and stir in chia seeds. Put into a jar and leave to set in the fridge. The chia seeds will swell using fluid from the fruit. The jam will keep for approximately 4 days in the fridge.
*We've made a short video to demonstrate how to make date paste. Pre-soaked dates will work just as well but they will need to be blended with the berries and the chia seeds added afterwards.
And Finally ...
We said this jam is highly nutritious; berries really are nutritous, as are dates. But we call this one 'omega' jam. It's the chia seeds of course that provide the omega oils, which are essential fatty acids, so called because we need them, but we can't synthesize them in our own bodies, so we have to get them from food. Both omega 3 and omega 6 are obtained from what we eat, but across the industrialised nations we're typically consuming far more omega 6 than we need in proportion to omega 3. There's no clear consensus on the ideal ratio but it seems to fall between 1:1 and 5:1. The standard Western diet, however is way out of balance, giving us ratios of 15:1 and up to 25:1. The most well-known consequence of this imbalance is inflammation which is associated with a wide range of chronic health conditions. Chia seeds are good news; the omega 6 to 3 ratio is 1:3 which means that unlike most nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, animal products (with the exception of oily fish) and pretty much all fat-containing processed foods, they favour omega 3. They're superceded only by flax seeds with a 1:4 ratio. It's worth mentioning that most leafy greens and other vegetables also have a ratio that favours omega 3 albeit in smaller amounts than chia seeds. So frequent salads along with flax and chia seeds are likely to be part of a recipe for better health. What are we waiting for?