Where on earth is this month going? I can’t even believe it’s past mid-October and that Halloween is right around the corner. It’s the middle of the day as I type this and only 46 degrees outside (brrrr!). I have my space heater pointed at my feat already. I can’t complain though because Saturday it was 84 and GLORIOUS.
I was excited to see that you like the idea of a series of “Recipes to Inspire” and that you like to see how I would go about tweaking them. I’ll be sure to do more posts like that!
I was also recently inspired when someone asked me about making a healthier version of jams/jellies since so many of them are so high in sugar, and often times you find a lot of extra stuff in them, whether it’s artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup or preservatives. I instantly suggested using the sea vegetable agar agar along with blended fruit.
So of course I had to give it a try!
If you are new to agar agar, don’t let the fact that it’s a sea veggie deter you from giving it a try. It’s very similar to using gelatin, but in a vegetarian version derived from red algae. It provides fiber and volume without adding any calories. And all you are going to taste is the food you mix it with – I promise your jam won’t taste like seafood!
Gingered Blackberry Spread (“Jam”)
by Natural Chef Shari Becht
Yield: ~ 1 cup
1 cup frozen organic blackberries
2/3 cup water
1 ½ teaspoons agave nectar (or other sweetener of choice such as raw honey or organic maple syrup)
1 teaspoon minced ginger (I use a jarred version by The Ginger People)
Pinch of stevia (optional)
2 teaspoons agar agar flakes
In a blender, add all ingredients except for the agar agar. Blend until puréed into a liquid.
Pour the purée into a medium saucepan and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat. Once the purée is bubbling, add the agar agar flakes and stir vigorously at first to dissolve the flakes and avoid clumping. Allow mixture to bubble for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Remove from heat and carefully transfer into a glass jar. Set aside at room temperature for 10-20 minutes, long enough to slightly cool and stop steaming. Place in the refrigerator (uncovered) for 2 to 3 hours to chill, which allows the agar agar flakes to ‘gel’ fully. At this point, a lid can be placed on the jar.
1.) People/kids who are used to eating a much higher sugar content in their foods might find this to be less than sweet on their palate so feel free to add a little additional sweetener during transition. I tried to keep the sugar as low as possible while still having a somewhat sweet flavor.
2.) Make in small batches in order to use within a week or two.
3.) Play with flavors you like – I used frozen blackberries because it’s what I had on hand, and ginger pairs well with blackberries. Be creative with what you have in your kitchen – you might come up with an amazing combination! (Agar doesn’t play as well with citrus fruits though, just as an FYI – you need more flakes for acidic blends/juices.)
Slather this on your toast (and your kids’ toast) knowing that they are getting a much healthier alternative. I could even see this being a fun way to make CRANBERRY SAUCE for Thanksgiving! Let me know if you try it!
– Shari B. =)
Shari Becht is a Certified Natural Chef, Fit Living Coach and ACE Certified Personal Trainer. She is extremely passionate about teaching people how they can take steps to fit healthy habits into their busy lives. If you or someone you know would like to learn how to eat more healthfully, achieve a healthy bodyweight or incorporate more “FIT” into life, please feel free to email her at shari [at] fitfeat [dot] com. For more information, click here.