Dark Berry Brainy Chia Compote (No Added Sugar - Kid Friendly!)
Updated: May 11
This simple and delicious, low-glycemic fruit compote is loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats and micronutrients to boost your brain power. It's the perfect companion to a bowl of high-protein oatmeal, whole grain toast, nutrient-dense pancakes, plain yogurt or a healthy dessert. You can whip up a batch in no time!
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Chia Seeds = Brain Food
I used to think chia seeds were a health-nut fad born out of the chia pet era. They seemed so boring -- not gourmet or inspiring.
But I have changed my mind about the powers of this tiny superfood.
Chia seeds are high in soluble fiber and when added to recipes, they have a terrific reputation for improving gut motility a.k.a. helping you poop. As a prebiotic fiber, chia seeds also feed the gut microbiome and there is a study suggesting this might have a positive affect on the intestinal absorption of both iron and zinc. Any food that can improve gut health most certainly affects brain health. The gut-brain connection cannot be underestimated!
Chia seeds also have a decent amount of protein with all 9 essential amino acids to feed your neurotransmitters. They also boast a nice dose of calcium (2 tablespoons boasts about 18% of the RDA) for bone health which is also related to brain health. They are also a fabulous plant source of omega-3 fatty acids-- more brain fuel.
I feed this brainy compote to my son with Down syndrome on a regular basis and he LOVES it! When I'm in a hurry I just mash a handful berries and stir in a dash of chia seeds and that works great, too!
You're gonna be amazed at how easy this recipe is to whip up at the last minute. It goes beautifully with so many good things like oatmeal, yogurt and even nutritious desserts. Or you can just serve it to the kids as a fruity side dish. That's what I do!
Why I Don't Add Sugar
Compotes are usually cooked slowly down to a syrupy goodness, but this one doesn't need that long on the stove. And as I said above sometimes I don't even cook it-- I just mash some berries and stir in a sprinkle of chia seeds. The key is to give it a few minutes to gel. Do not eat chia seeds dry-- always make sure they gel into some liquid or wet food.
Also, I don't add any sweeteners (sugar, honey, agave, stevia) which is traditional in compote, jam and preserves preparation. I have grown to enjoy the tartness and natural sweetness of the berries. Let me explain why excluding sweeteners is important if you are working towards optimal health.
I usually eat this in the morning on top of some high-protein oatmeal loaded with nuts and seeds. I am very careful not to eat anything that might spike my blood sugar in the morning (have learned this the hard way -- many times). That includes any syrups, sugary jams, honey or stand-alone carbohydrates (like cereals, breads, muffins etc). Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate, but I load it with protein (collagen and whey proteins) and healthy fats (nuts, seeds and butter) to make sure it's balanced. The balance of protein, healthy fats with carbohydrates helps slow down digestion and improve nutrient absorption, whereas a breakfast heavy in carbs and sugar will convert straight to glucose in your body.
An influx of glucose (without a balance of protein and fats) will spike your blood sugar and morning blood sugar spikes are especially problematic. They can set your whole day off kilter (moods, energy, cravings, sleepiness) not to mention increase your inflammation and mess with your brain-power. No thank you! It's just not worth it to me anymore.
We are all bio-individual and some of you may need a touch of sweetener to enjoy it, but I encourage you to wean off in time so you can enjoy the maximum benefits of this dark berry stew.
Here are some amazing health benefits you'll get when you eat this easy and delicious topping!
Berry Good Brain Fuel
It's no secret that berries top the superfood charts. Let's glance at some of their best traits:
Blueberries: This simple blue, beadlike fruit has been shown in studies to improve memory and cognition, including both short and long term memory as well as spatial memory. They have even demonstrated potential benefits on mood disorders. Phenomenal!
Blackberries: A powerful and abundant dark fruit with both neuroprotective (brain and memory) and anti-cancer properties. These super berries also show an impact on bone health. What an added bonus for healthy aging!
Strawberries: These crimson berries are loaded with vitamin C and folate as well as anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. They also have antimicrobial and anti-allergy properties, the potential to lower blood pressure and influence cellular metabolism. Mega awesome fruit!
Raspberries: These hot pink beauties are one of the plant foods highest in dietary fiber making this fruit great for detoxification and keeping things moving (if you know what I mean). Also rich in vitamins and special plant compounds with potential effects on lowering disease risk pertaining to: heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease. Ay-mazing! Grab some today!
Chia seeds are another power-player in this recipe, described above, but here is a summary:
Chia Seeds: Full of fiber to keep things moving as well as important minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. A good source of complete protein with all essential amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids -- both supportive of both brain health.
Grab these awesome ingredients and let's get going!
Dark Berry Chia Compote
Prep: 3 minutes Cook: 10-15 minutes Total: 15-20 minutes Servings: 2-4
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2 cups of mixed organic berries -- fresh or frozen -- any combo of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and/or strawberries
3/4 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons of chia seeds (I prefer the Navitas Organics brand)
squeeze of lemon juice (if you want it tarter)
Place all fresh or frozen berries in saucepan and add filtered water. Turn on high heat. As soon as everything begins to boil turn to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cook until everything is soft and supple, but not too watery and fruit is still somewhat whole.
Turn off heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes. Add chia seeds (and any optional ingredients like honey or lemon) and stir. Compote is best served hot, but you can also store in a glass jam jar in the fridge. The chia seeds will congeal the longer they sit making it extra jammy. Add more if you want a thicker texture.
Enjoy on some High Protein Oatmeal, plain yogurt (dairy-free if needed), toasted sourdough, whole-grain or grain-free toast, or on a nutrient-dense dessert!
Let me know if you try this dark berry compote and how you like it! You can post in comments below or tag me in any photos on Instagram @nourishandcherish.ntp!
Burton-Freeman, Britt M, et al. “Red Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links.”Advances in Nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), American Society for Nutrition, 15 Jan. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4717884/.
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Miller, Marshall G., and Barbara Shukitt-Hale. “Berry Fruit Enhances Beneficial Signaling in the Brain.”Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 23 Jan. 2012, pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf2036033.
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Travica, Nikolaj, et al. “The Effect of Blueberry Interventions on Cognitive Performance and Mood: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.”Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Academic Press, 15 Apr. 2019, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889159118311954?via=ihub.
About the Author
Roxie Daggett is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) with a virtual holistic nutrition practice in Sedona, Arizona. Her passions include studying nutritional research pertaining to brain health, gut health, genetics and longevity. When she is not geeking out on nutrition she enjoys cooking, hiking, organic gardening and hanging out with her wonderful husband, and her adorable, energetic son who happens to have Down syndrome. Learn more on her About page and stay in touch by grabbing your FREE BRAIN HEALTH BREAKFAST GUIDE above or below!