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Summer…fresh fruit…homemade jam!

OK, I’m all for summer and fresh fruit, but as soon as you go to “homemade jam” my brain starts to smoke and my eagerness comes to a screeching halt. As a kid growing up in a small Minnesota town, we had acres of gardens full of fresh vegetables.  We also had huge raspberry and strawberry patches. My mom made jam all summer long. It was a lot of work, very time consuming, and tasted like heaven. I’m not really sure how she found the time to do it since I wasn’t exactly an only child. (Picture me + 6 more running around!) We never had store bought jam in our house. Ever. SO, while I love the idea of homemade jam, the thought of making it myself flips the panic switch (ok, truthfully, it flips the lazy switch) and I quietly give a nod of gratitude to my amazing 97 year old momma.

Fast forward to today. I don’t make my own jam - ever - and I’ve become a nutrition label reading freak (that’s a good thing!) I haven’t been able to find a jam that is low enough in sugar, not a chemical SH#% storm but still tastes good. Jam is an important staple for me since my daily 1st  breakfast is ½ of a PBJ! (I also pack ½ of a PBJ on my bike or run as real food energy.)

Thanks to Danielle Capalino, MSPH, RD* and her book “Healthy Gut, Flat Stomach” I now have a useable strawberry jam recipe with minimal sugar (real maple syrup) and no crazy chemical sh#% storm additives! How does it taste? You’re going to find out, because you’re going to want to try this recipe. It’s super easy (not complicated and time consuming like mom’s) and it’s healthy!

Aside form being low in sugar, this recipe uses chia seeds as it’s thickener. c chia seeds are a fiber that is easy for your digestive system to handle. A bonus if you have digestive issues. According to Danielle’s book, as many as 1 in 5 people suffer from digestive issues. This recipe follows the low FODMAP** diet plan, which helps eliminate those foods that create digestive issues. Whether you suffer from chronic digestive issues or not, this recipe is a solid “YES!”

Side note, I tried it with ½ peaches and ½ strawberries, and it didn’t disappoint. However, keep in mind that if you’re following a low FODMAP diet, peaches are not recommended, as they are a high FODMAP food.

* A good resource is  daniellecapalio.com for articles, information and additional recipes on low FODMAP diets and other health and wellness issues.

Strawberry Chia Jam

2 Cups hulled and chopped strawberries**
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 tsp balsamic vinegar**
1 TBLSP pure maple syrup
3 TBLSP chia seeds

Place the strawberries, vanilla, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the fruit becomes syrupy and thicker.
Continue to cook, stirring and mashing the fruit, until it reaches your desired consistency. Remove from the heat and add the chia seeds. Stir thoroughly. 
Let the jam sit for at least 5 minutes until it sets. Once the jam has cooled to room temperature, transfer the mixture to a glass jar. Enjoy!!!

**I experimented with this recipe and used 1 Cup of strawberries and 1 cup of chopped peaches Instead of the 2 Cups of strawberries. For the balsamic vinegar I used 1 tsp plain balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp of peach balsamic vinegar. The only way to describe is......delicious!!! Share it with someone you love! I did!