Four Simple, Nutrient-Dense Ingredients:
Elderberries, beautiful little bunches of dark, luscious berries, they have long been used medicinally, particularly in Europe for ailments including arthritis, colds, constipation and asthma. So revered for their healthful benefits, elderberries were often referred to as the “medicine chest.”
Modern studies have shown that these berries do indeed contain significant antioxidants, blood-cleansing, immune-boosting and virus-fighting qualities, and components which may also assist in stress reduction. In 1995, elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama.
Elderberries contain amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins A, B and an impressive amount of vitamin C. It is the flavonoids in particular, which are believed to account for the therapeutic qualities of elderberries.
Blueberries are packed with vitamin C (good for the formation of collagen, for healthy gums and capillaries, for iron absorption and a healthy immune system). They also contain vitamins A, E and a small amount of the B complex.
Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, and have gained star status when it comes to antioxidants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rates antioxidant activity per serving with ORAC values (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). Blueberries (particularly wild ones) sit near the top of the list, and so have become known as a “superfood.” Antioxidants are credited with neutralizing free radicals – unstable molecules linked to premature aging and degenerative illness. Additionally, blueberries have been recognized for effective blood sugar regulation, making them a good choice for weight management, diabetes treatment and prevention.
Chia seeds are the edible seeds from a desert plant, appreciated for their medicinal and energy-giving properties since pre-Columbian times. They were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and used for endurance, to relieve sore joints and protect the skin.
Chia seeds are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids (even more than flax seeds). They are also a good source of fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, niacin, zinc and antioxidants and do not need to be ground (as flax seeds should be). They are so deeply appreciated for their nutritional value, they, too, are referred to as a “superfood“.
Maple syrup is enjoyed for its flavor, mineral content and its local availability here in Vermont. Nutritionally, it received additional recognition in a recent Canadian study. Maple syrup and local raw honey are my favorite sweeteners.
Several years ago I planted two small elderberry bushes. They’re apparently happy, leaving me looking for good destinations for all these berries. I wanted to make them easy to consume regularly in a quick recipe with a simple ingredient list.
Inspired by a jam recipe I saw in Peggy Kotsopoulos’s Must Have Been Something I Ate, I combined these four ingredients to make Elder-Blue SuperJam.
Peggy’s “Guilt-Free Blueberry Jam” recipe calls for:
- 2 cups raw blueberries (preferably wild, otherwise organically cultivated)
- 1/2 cup raw elderberries (freshly picked or frozen)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon ground chia seeds
- Grind chia seeds in a designated nuts & seeds coffee grinder.
- In a food processor, combine blueberries (minus a small handful), elderberries, maple syrup and the ground chia seeds until it is a gorgeous deep bluish purple mixture. Stir in the whole blueberries by hand.
- Spoon into jelly jars and store in the refrigerator.