The Healthiest Tart Treat You Will Ever Need
Growing up near the Russian-Finnish border, Lingonberries were a regular part of everybody’s diet. Some of my most cherished childhood memories are of my family and I going berry picking. Of course, I ate more berries than I helped pick but I digress.
Almost everyone in the Western world is familiar with mighty blueberries, which are an excellent source of Vitamins C and K1 as well as Manganese. They are also a good source of fiber, anti-oxidants and copper, and vitamins E and B6 are present to a lesser extent. Studies have shown that blueberries have heart-protective properties, lower blood pressure, reduce the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol (hence the term anti-oxidant), boost brain health by helping to delay age-related decline and may also lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. This tiny berry packs a huge punch.
Polyphenols are the specific compounds that provide anti-oxidant activity. Resveratrol is one such polyphenol found in blueberries and it has shown very promising cancer-fighting and anti-tumor activity.
Lingonberries are less known in the West, as they are mostly indigenous to the Northern European countries where they grow in almost every forest’s swampy areas. They are small, juicy, tart, red berries that are distantly related to cranberries. What’s amazing is that lingonberries have an even higher content of resveratrol than blueberries, at a level that is comparable to red grapes. They also have anti-inflammatory activity, protect the circulatory system from blood clots and help prevent UTIs.
I’m sure you can imagine my joy when I found lingonberries at a European delicatessen right here in Toronto, and bought a whole bag of the frozen goodies with the intention of making jam – a treat I’ve missed dearly since moving to Canada.
This is a raw jam, meaning none of the ingredients used have undergone exposure to high temperatures. Such exposure can damage the chemical composition of foods as well as alter their enzyme activity. While I do not recommend an all-raw diet from a Chinese Medicine perspective, supplementing your existing diet with raw food can drastically improve your health.
Both blueberries and lingonberries have immunomodulating properties, which basically just means they help to boost and strengthen your immune system. Both these berries are a great addition to your family’s diet as we head into the cold and flu season. You can add it to your herbal teas for a kick of sweet tartness and immune system support.
The sweetness of this jam comes from honey and ‘solidified’ with chia seeds. Both honey and chia seeds have numerous health benefits and are amazing superfoods in their own right. Honey is often referred to as “liquid gold” and is often used to treat upper respiratory tract infections due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds. Honey also contains heart-protective and cancer-fighting properties as it too contains high levels of antioxidants. Chia seeds, while super tiny, are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They are high in protein, Omega-3 and fiber. They also contain good amounts of Zinc, Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and potassium.
Really, I could go on and on about all the health benefits of the four ingredients I used to make this jam, but then we would all be here for a very long time. One thing I will say regarding food quality – try to purchase all ingredients organic with as little pesticides and herbicides as possible. Honey in particular should be as close to raw as you can find. Personally I get my honey from my parents, who purchase it from a bee farm (thanks mom and dad!), where it’s sold for about $150 per bucket. That’s right, we buy honey in buckets.
Let’s get to it then. Ingredients and proportions:
- 5 cups lingonberries
- 3 cups blueberries
- 1 cup honey
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
Instructions: place all ingredients into a blender and blend. That is all. You are done. Place into refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight before consuming, to allow the chia seeds to ‘set’ the jam.
This made me 1.5 jars of jam. If this is too much for you, feel free to decrease the amount of ingredients used in proportion to each other. If it’s too tart, add extra honey. There is literally no jam police that will come and get you if you add your own spin to this recipe. The most important thing? Enjoy it!
Bon Appetit, with Love, Anastassia.