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Simple Natural Strawberry Jam
Recipes, Uncategorized

Simple Natural Strawberry Jam

Dear Diary,

I grew up eating my Grandma’s strawberry freezer jam. We ate it on bread, pancakes, muffins, and when we thought we could get away with it, by the spoonful right out of the jar. Those were the days of young taste buds that crave sugar and nothing is ever too sweet. When I started making my own jam, I was shocked at how much sugar went into traditional jam. Nowadays, my mature taste buds prefer to taste more of the fruit and far less sugar.

Cooking Light (June 2004) has a good recipe I discovered several years ago that has 3 ingredients, no pectin, and far lass sugar than the recipe my Grandma used to use. Recently, I was a chaperone on a field trip with my son to a farm where our group got to pick fresh strawberries. The berries were sweet so I bought more afterwards and wanted to create an even better version of the Cooking Light recipe I had been using. What if I cut out the sugar all together and used honey? And what if I increased the nutrition value without changing the texture by adding chia seeds? My Simple Natural Strawberry Jam was born and the fruit is the star of the show in this recipe.

Simple Natural Strawberry JamChopped Fresh Strawberries

  • 8-10 cups chopped Strawberries
  • Zest of 2 lemons & juice of the same 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup apple or grape juice
  • 1/2-3/4 cup honey

In a large pot or sauce pan, add chopped strawberries and lemon zest; bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reserve the juice of the lemons for later. Simmer (low boil) uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Combine chia seeds and apple/grape juice and allow to sit while the strawberries cookSoaked Chia Seeds & Lemon Juice. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 10 minutes, and stir in reserved lemon juice, soaked chia seeds, and honey. Allow to cool for another 10 minutes prior to pouring into glass jars or containers. Refrigerate or freeze. Use to top yogurt or ice cream, on bread or toast, or by the spoonful!

Note: Do not expect this jam to taste like store bought or traditional homemade jam. It is less sweet but can be easily sweetened by increasing the honey a bit or adding agave after it’s cooked.Cooked Strawberries

Salad Recipes, Uncategorized

Hot Weather, Summer Salads

Dear Diary,

I love my go to recipes and this Orzo Salad from Cooking Light has been a favorite for several years. It’s the perfect combination of textures and the lemony dressing makes it feel like summer in my mouth. It works well as a side dish or as a main vegetarian course. I often double it so I am sure to have plenty left for lunches.

Most recipes I make once according to the original ingredients and directions but then modify later versions to add more flavor, color, crunch or health benefits.  This recipe is so close to perfection that the only thing I modify is using a bit more lemon juice and a bit less salt.

We hit over 90 degrees this weekend in Los Angeles area so this salad will be hitting my table tomorrow night!

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Dill, and Lemon

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.

Combine pasta, onions, cheese, dill, and chickpeas in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine.

Combine juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 327
  • Calories from fat: 29%
  • Fat: 10.4g
  • Saturated fat: 2.9g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 5.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.8g
  • Protein: 10.8g
  • Carbohydrate: 47.6g
  • Fiber: 4.9g
  • Cholesterol: 13mg
  • Iron: 3mg
  • Sodium: 641mg
  • Calcium: 107mg