recipe

Raspberry Lemon Chia Seed Jam

This raspberry lemon chia seed jam is bright and tart, and it makes for an awesome fruity topping on yogurt, oatmeal, or toast. The best part is that you can make it in just 30 minutes!

Raspberry Lemon Chia Seed Jam

Can we talk about the wonder that is chia seed jam for a minute? With four simple ingredients you can whip up a simple jam that’s heavy on the fruit, low on the added sugar and a beautiful vibrant color.

Raspberry Lemon Chia Seed Jam

Now, if you’re totally weirded out by chia seeds, this is the post where I convince you that they’re actually cool and functional, in a nerdy food science kind-of way. And yes, it’s the same seed that was responsible for the chia pet trend of the 90s (come to find out, you can still buy them 😂).

Besides being used to grow sprouts, the seeds are actually really versatile in the kitchen. Read on to find out how to use them, what the nutritional benefits are and of course to get the recipe for the raspberry lemon jam.

How to Use Chia Seeds

I love keeping chia on hand for tossing in random things for an added nutritional boost. I add them to overnight oats for creamier texture or oatmeal balls for cohesiveness. Another popular use is chia seed pudding, although I’m personally not as big a fan of that. Mix with water for an egg replacer in baked goods for the vegan folks (or in a pinch if you run out).

Raspberry Lemon Chia Seed Jam

The Nutritional Benefits of Chia Seeds

One of the biggest reasons why chia seeds surged in popularity is because they’re a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. While fatty fish provides the most efficient form of omega 3s, I always advocate for consuming a variety of food sources of each nutrient when possible and I also realize that not everyone consumes fish.

Even better, there are plenty of other great qualities in chia. Here are the nutrition facts at-a-glance (per 1/4 cup):

  • 180 calories

  • 11 g fat

  • 16 g carbohydrate

  • 14 g dietary fiber

  • 6 g protein

  • 230 mg calcium (15% DV)

  • 2.8 mg iron (15% DV)

Why Would You Add Chia Seeds to Jam?

When added to liquid, chia seeds expand and become gelatinous. This basically creates a thickening quality which is exactly what you want when making jam/preserves so it’s easier to spread.

This jam recipe is simple and can be switched up based on whatever fruit you have on hand and the sweetener you prefer. Here are a few other flavor combinations that could work:

  • Strawberry Mint

  • Blueberry Lemon

  • Cherry Vanilla Almond

  • Blackberry Orange Ginger

Raspberry Lemon Chia Seed Jam

Have other flavor combination ideas? Leave me a comment! And be sure to let me know if you give this a try by posting your photos on Instagram and tagging me @LeanneRayRDN.


Raspberry Lemon Chia Seed Jam

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 16 oz | Prep time: 5 min | Cook time: 10 min | Total time: 30 min (including time to cool)

ingredients

  • 12 oz bag frozen raspberries

  • 1 lemon (zest & juice)

  • 2 Tbsp cane sugar

  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds

instructions

  1. Add all ingredients except chia seeds to a medium saucepan. Bring to a low boil stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.

  2. Lower heat to a simmer and stir in the chia seeds. Partially cover and continue to simmer for 5-7 minutes until berries are broken down and slightly thickened.

  3. Remove from heat and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

recipe inspired by Two Peas and Their Pod.


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Greek Orzo Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing

Who says pasta salad has to be saved for the summer? This Greek orzo with creamy lemon dijon dressing might be your new favorite make-ahead lunch option.

Greek Orzo Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing

I feel like the theme of my January cooking routine is “simplify”. After the start of the new year as social events started slowing down, I wanted to keep things as easy as possible, but still prioritize great-tasting meals (sans the restriction because “more, not less” amiright?).

I started the month by using recipes from Bon Appetit’s Feel Good Food Plan which I loved! It was a great way to kick off the year because it saved so much time and the meals were awesome. I highly recommend the warm chickpea bowls, by the way.

For the second half of the month I’ll be cooking from my January Meal Plan pinterest board. I’ve been using it as a hub for recipes that include lot’s of fish and seafood, whole grains, beans, fresh produce and herbs. Feel free to follow along with me and use the recipes for yourself too! Pinterest is a fantastic way to organize your recipes - both the favorites that you make and again along with new ones that are on your list.

This recipe checks all of the boxes and was originally created as a side dish because I had the ingredients on hand and needed something to pair with fish. The best part is, it can be made ahead of time (Sunday food prep!), doubles as a lunch entree, and is super flavorful from the addition of fresh lemon juice and salty feta cheese crumbles.

Greek Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Greek Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Let me also just say orzo is in the regular rotation in my house (and maybe it should be at yours too?). It’s a rice-shaped pasta that cooks in just seven minutes and can be doctored up with any vegetables you are currently loving. It has great chew, but doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients, which can sometimes happen with larger pasta. I’m a big fan of the add-ins here and they really do shine.

Of course we have all of the best Mediterranean things: fresh grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, dill, red onion and a simple dressing to pull it all together. The lemon dijon vinaigrette couldn’t be easier and has a great silkiness! Remember to keep tiny jars around for your homemade salad dressings! The one photographed here is an old anchovy jar and worked great for this.

The beans are totally optional but if you have them on hand, I say add them. You could easily substitute garbanzo beans or lentils too. The fiber will give this more staying power, plus I think we all need more beans in our life. #thingsdietitianssay

Make this Greek orzo on Sunday for an easy, fresh and interesting packed lunch option. Serve it over some spinach with your favorite seasonal fruit on the side for a flavorful and satisfying meal. Grab the full recipe below.

Greek Orzo Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing

Greek Orzo Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: Serves 3-4 for lunch, 6 as a side dish | Total time: 20 minutes

ingredients

  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta

  • Juice from 1/2 lemon

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1, 14.5 oz can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

  • 1/4 cup minced red onion

  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved

  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles

  • 4-5 sprigs fresh dill, rough chopped

  • Fresh mint leaves, torn (optional)

instructions

  1. Cook orzo per package directions, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing by adding the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, plus a pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper to a small jar. Screw on the lid tightly and shake until creamy. Set aside.

  3. Add all ingredients to a medium-size bowl and stir to evenly distribute the dressing. Garnish with extra herbs and lemon wedges.

Notes: store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.


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Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

New Year’s Eve mocktail, anyone?

All right, I’m just getting straight to the point here. Every year in the days following Christmas, I’m totally over it with alcohol. I’m not even much of a drinker but with all of the parties and family gatherings, weekend wine turns into a daily wine or cocktails x2 or x3. It’s also hard to stay hydrated with all of the running around and this is a combination for feeling kind of… yucky.

Enter, this fun twist on a margarita that combines the flavors of blackberry, lime, and jalapeno with kombucha instead of booze. The mocktail that could easily be transformed into a cocktail with the addition of your favorite spirit but is plenty interesting without it.

Spicy kombucha margaritas!

Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

You might remember a previous post on alcohol + mocktail ideas where I talked about new some research and my personal thoughts on how drinking fits into a healthful diet. This topic is especially relevant at the beginning of a new year because #dryjanuary is a thing. If you’re someone who wants to cut back on alcohol, I would highly suggest keeping fun alternatives like this on hand.

What’s the deal with kombucha?

So it’s no secret that I like am totally obsessed with kombucha. I tasted it for the first time YEARS ago but I’ve developed a new appreciation for it lately and I’m not quite sure why. Obviously there’s the health benefits. Kombucha contains live and active cultures (similar to yogurt) and can help strengthen your gut microbiome. Speaking of which… Denver Locals, have you signed up for my upcoming event at Happy Leaf Kombucha yet?

Then of course there’s the refreshing bubbles. The subtle sweetness. The interesting flavor combinations. I could go on and on. It might seem silly, but I think my favorite quality is the fact that it just feels special to drink. Most of the local breweries here have kombucha on tap for a non-alcoholic option that looks almost identical when poured in a beer glass. Some even taste like it too! It’s more exciting than tap water without all of the sugar that comes with sodas and juices.

Related // How to Make Kombucha at Home

I love a good “kombucha happy hour” at the end of a workday when I’m not in the mood for alcohol but want to sip on something while I cook dinner too. You certainly don’t need to mix it with anything but for a special occasion, why not spruce it up a bit? I decided I wanted to do a riff on a margarita where the tequila is optional.

spicy kombucha margarita ingredients

It doesn’t really get any easier, but the result is a beautiful deep purple mocktail with just the right amount of sweetness and spice. Here’s how you make it:

Step 1: Build your “base”

Muddle the juice of a lime with jalapeños and whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand. I’ve been crazy about blackberries lately because they are perfectly sweet and juicy, plus the color is insane so I highly recommend. You could also use a different berry, blood oranges, or even pomegranate arils if you’re feeling really ambitious. Also, if adding alcohol to this drink, now is the time!

Step 2: Add the booch

Next add the kombucha. Since I was going for a margarita-like flavor, I used this Health-Ade Jalapeno Kiwi Cucumber flavor and it turned out really great. I like this brand because the flavors are strong and on the spectrum of sweetness it’s on the lower end of some others I’ve tried.

That being said, there are hundreds of kombucha flavors to choose from these days, so make it your own with whatever catches your eye. Other personal favorites include: ginger-lemon, pink lady apple, and pomegranate.

Step 3: Finishing touches

Fill the remainder of your glass with ice then garnish with extra jalapeno and fruit. I also added a salt rim to one version (see photo below, on the right) and this was fun and brought out the flavors a little bit more, but is purely optional. Just run your lime around the rim of the glass to add some moisture, then turn it upside down on a plate of salt.

spicy kombucha margaritas
Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

Whether or not you plan to partake in a cocktail or two on New Year’s Eve, what better way to start the evening than with a beautiful and healthyish drink like this one? Change it up with the season and per your personal preference. Cheers and see you in 2019 friends ✨


Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 1 serving | Prep time: 5 minutes | Total time: 5 minutes
60 cals, 8 g CHO

ingredients

  • 1 lime

  • 5 fresh blackberries

  • 5 thin slices jalapeno

  • 8 oz kombucha

instructions

  1. Juice the lime into a stemless wine glass or small mason jar.

  2. Add blackberries and three slices of jalapeno; muddle.

  3. Top with the kombucha, stir gently to combine.

  4. Fill remainder of the glass with ice.


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