Strawberry Chia Preserves

Strawberries and Prayers

Hello Healthy Ones and Greetings from Maine!

Its full-on Summer and that means berry-season here in Maine. Our weekly CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture) from Heritage Home Farm could not have started soon enough. This week's bounty included freshly picked ORGANIC strawberries! Heritage Home Farm is newly certified by Maine Organic Farms and Growers (MOFGA) as an organic farm WHOOP WHOOP! AND, how lucky are we to live right down the Ridge?!. Eitan, Elizabeth and baby Samuel are our neighbors and our farmers providing us with fresh. locally grown organic veggies all Summer long.
Elizabeth sent a message home with David regarding the strawberries. "They are small, but make Great Jam!" Well, that was all I needed to prompt me. But traditional jam is so sugar-filled, and I often have trouble getting it to "jam-up", you know, set to that perfect consistency. If you add pectin to help with the consistency, you need to add even more sugar. What to do? How about a low sugar option using chia seeds for thickening instead of pectin and stevia or maple syrup rather than super-refined white sugar? Well, I did both types for a taste comparison later. Here are the recipes, stay tuned for the results... Can't wait to try either of these on my home-made dairy-free cultured nut cheeses! 


Easy Chia & Fruit Jam
Ingredients
2 c. chopped fruit (in this case Strawberries!)
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. honey, agave, maple syrup, or sugar OR 1 - 2 t. Stevia Extract
2 T. chia seeds, more if needed

Method:
Prepare the fruit as needed.
Cook the fruit until it starts to break down
Remove from heat and stir in the sweetener, I used maple syrup, and lemon juice.

Stir in the chia seeds.
Let stand for a few minutes to thicken.
Transfer to containers for storage for up to 2 - 3 weeks in fridge, longer in freezer.

Microwave Jam

Somewhat Traditional Strawberry Jam (Microwave)
Ingredients:
Equal weights of fruit and sugar, in this case I use my scale in metric grams. 500. fruit  and 500 grams fine sugar. You can estimate with cups but it might not "jam-up" as well. I also grate a half apple and add a bit of citric acid or squeeze a bit of lemon juice to help with the thickening. You can see from this recipe how much more sugar is needed for traditional styles of jam. 
Method:
Briefly blend the fruit and place in a large microwave-proof bowl with the sugar. Microwave on High for 3 mins, then stir well. Microwave for a further 3 mins on High, stirring after. Finish with a further 2 mins, add a squeeze of lemon juice if desired, then pour into warm sterilized jars. Once bottled and cool the jam is ready to eat. Will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Keep in the fridge once opened.

Other things to try with Preserves and Jam:
Combine fruits, Such as Strawberries and Rhubarb, mixed Berries, etc.
Add chopped Crystal Ginger (mixed in thoroughly) during final stages before placing in jars.
Top the jam with a small amount (1 - 2 t.) of your favorite liqueur such as Grand Marnier (orange) or Chambord (raspberry). after bottling, before sealing jars.






Have a Safe, Happy & Healthy SUMMER!


Sláinte!


Strawberry Chia Preserves


Hello Healthy Ones and Greetings from Maine!

Its full-on Summer and that means berry-season here in Maine. Our weekly CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture) from Heritage Home Farm could not have started soon enough. This week's bounty included freshly picked ORGANIC strawberries! Heritage Home Farm is newly certified by Maine Organic Farms and Growers (MOFGA) as an organic farm WHOOP WHOOP! AND, how lucky are we to live right down the Ridge?!. Eitan, Elizabeth and baby Samuel are our neighbors and our farmers providing us with fresh. locally grown organic veggies all Summer long.
Elizabeth sent a message home with David regarding the strawberries. "They are small, but make Great Jam!" Well, that was all I needed to prompt me. But traditional jam is so sugar-filled, and I often have trouble getting it to "jam-up", you know, set to that perfect consistency. If you add pectin to help with the consistency, you need to add even more sugar. What to do? How about a low sugar option using chia seeds for thickening instead of pectin and stevia or maple syrup rather than super-refined white sugar? Well, I did both types for a taste comparison later. Here are the recipes, stay tuned for the results... Can't wait to try either of these on my home-made dairy-free cultured nut cheeses! 


Easy Chia & Fruit Jam
Ingredients
2 c. chopped fruit (in this case Strawberries!)
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. honey, agave, maple syrup, or sugar OR 1 - 2 t. Stevia Extract
2 T. chia seeds, more if needed

Method:
Prepare the fruit as needed.
Cook the fruit until it starts to break down
Remove from heat and stir in the sweetener, I used maple syrup, and lemon juice.

Stir in the chia seeds.
Let stand for a few minutes to thicken.
Transfer to containers for storage for up to 2 - 3 weeks in fridge, longer in freezer.

Microwave Jam

Somewhat Traditional Strawberry Jam (Microwave)
Ingredients:
Equal weights of fruit and sugar, in this case I use my scale in metric grams. 500. fruit  and 500 grams fine sugar. You can estimate with cups but it might not "jam-up" as well. I also grate a half apple and add a bit of citric acid or squeeze a bit of lemon juice to help with the thickening. You can see from this recipe how much more sugar is needed for traditional styles of jam. 
Method:
Briefly blend the fruit and place in a large microwave-proof bowl with the sugar. Microwave on High for 3 mins, then stir well. Microwave for a further 3 mins on High, stirring after. Finish with a further 2 mins, add a squeeze of lemon juice if desired, then pour into warm sterilized jars. Once bottled and cool the jam is ready to eat. Will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Keep in the fridge once opened.

Other things to try with Preserves and Jam:
Combine fruits, Such as Strawberries and Rhubarb, mixed Berries, etc.
Add chopped Crystal Ginger (mixed in thoroughly) during final stages before placing in jars.
Top the jam with a small amount (1 - 2 t.) of your favorite liqueur such as Grand Marnier (orange) or Chambord (raspberry). after bottling, before sealing jars.






Have a Safe, Happy & Healthy SUMMER!


Sláinte!


Top FIVE reasons certain Soy Products are Good for Your Health

100% ORGANIC SOY is the BEST type to use.

Hello Healthy Ones!
I've become a little frustrated with our local supermarkets and their choices for non-dairy milks. For many years, I have been using a 100% Organic soy milk in my coffee and for making home-made yogurt. There are at least two brands from which I have great results in my milk frother (think Matcha Lattes and Flat Whites but without all the sugar from Starbucks!) and for rich, creamy yogurt, without all the sugar and fillers, thickeners, etc. from grocery store brands. These seemed to be readily available pretty much anywhere, even Winn Dixie, up until now.
AVOID refined and processed anything, especially SOY products!

Check out these ingredients!! Doesn't get any simpler!
Our local grocers have discontinued carrying either of these brands of organic soymilk, favoring the sugar and filler-laden blends for UHT or shelf-stable brands and stocking oodles of variations of refrigerated brands, almost all of which contain thickeners and various other ingredients. NONE of these work well in yogurt making and many do not froth in my milk frother - BOO HISS! 

Yesterday, I made a special trip to our local Natural Foods Market, and even they have stopped carrying soymilk of all kinds. The own says he "can't even give it away." WAAAAH!

Well, I've started to suspect people are shifting from soy milk to nut milk because of all the bad press soy receives, and then, the universe sent me a little positive reinforcement from Dr. Neal Barnard which I wanted to share with all of you. I'm not sure if it will bring my favorite brands of soymilk back on to the shelves in our local markets BUT, maybe it will help alleviate some of the UNFOUNDED fears surrounding SOY and SOY PRODUCTS. I will share Dr. Barnard's recent blog post below, as well as some other tips on smart us of SOY.
soy-health-benefits

1. Soy for Cancer Prevention and Survival: studies have shown repeatedly that eating soy is beneficial in preventing and surviving cancer of the Breast, Colon, Lung & Prostate.

2.Consuming Soy Products may reduce the risk of Fibroids.

3.Reduces Inflammation:
Eat more vegetable protein, especially from beans in general and soybeans in particular. Become familiar with the range of whole-soy foods available and find ones you like.

4. Soy is a COMPLETE Protein containing all nine amino acids needed by our bodies, but without the ability to create cancer-promoting compounds as animal proteins do, when heated at high temperatures. Studies show that grilling vegetables, fruits and soy products do not yield HCAs.

5. Soy consumption lowers cholesterol: Besides being a great source of complete protein which does not form cancer-causing compounds while cooking, soy products do not contain cholesterol. I know what you are thinking - eating cholesterol does not impact your total dietary cholesterol. Well, that is not true. Eating a low-fat, vegan diet from a variety of whole plant foods, including soy, and other beans/legumes has been proven to reduce cholesterol dramatically. Have you ever had your cholesterol tested after eating high cholesterol foods? Your cholesterol goes up...

If you are concerned, be sure to avoid or at least limit refined or processed anything, including foods which contain them, especially Soy derivatives such as Soy Protein Isolate, Soybean oils, or anything with GMO Soy.
Stick to 100% Organic Soy products. Fermented soy products such as TEMPEH, MISOS, NATTO and TAMARI are beneficial as are TOFU,  & EDAMAME, If you are on a path to lose weight, consider the fat content of some soy products and use accordingly. Soy has been known to help people safely GAIN WEIGHT.

For more on the benefits of Soy, read Dr. Barnard's recent blog post HERE.

Here is the recipe for I use for the best Soy Yogurt.


Sláinte!


Soy – Cashew Non-Dairy Yogurt (courtesy Miyoko Schinner
Ingredients:
·         4 c. 100 % PLAIN, UNSWEETENED organic soy milk
·         2/3 c. cashew pieces, soaked in water for 3 hours and drained (or do a 30 minute soak with boiling water)
·         3 T. plain, unsweetened nondairy yogurt (OR 1 pkg vegan yogurt starter OR 1/4 tsp probiotic powder)
Method:
  1. Put 1 cup of the soy milk and the cashews in a blender and process until smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer to a heavy medium saucepan and stir in the remaining 3 cups of soy milk with a whisk.
  3. Warm over low heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture reaches 110 degrees F or until a few drop placed on the wrist feel slightly warm. Remove from the heat.
  4. Add the non-dairy yogurt (or starter) and stir until thoroughly combined.
  5. Pour into a clean 1 quart glass jar and cover. Let rest in a warm place for 4 - 8 hours, until set and the desired degree of tartness has been achieved.
  6. Refrigerate the yogurt; it will thicken even more as it cools.
  7. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, Cashew Yogurt will keep for 1 to 2 weeks.