Recently, I kind of “got into” gelatin…as in, I decided I wanted to incorporate more of it into my diet, and not necessarily in the form of those Jello “jigglers” I remember being served in daycare back in
my heydey ’93. But seriously, gelatin has a ton of health benefits. It’s a fabulous source of dietary collagen, which is necessary to keep your skin and joints healthy (and, coincidentally, your collagen levels can start decreasing as early as age 20), as well as protein. In particular, gelatin provides an abundance of the amino acids proline and glycine, which are much less plentiful in most other protein sources. Between the glycine and the collagen, gelatin can be a great help in recovering from both typical training (exercise) as well as acute or chronic injuries. You can read more about the benefits of gelatin HERE and HERE.
I decided to that I wanted to ride the gelatin train because I needed more protein. My training had been starting to decline, not for lack of motivation or enthusiasm, but because I wasn’t recovering as quickly as I should have been. It wasn’t hard to look at what I was eating (remember, I’m generally on the “Eat What I Frackin’ Want” diet), and realize that I wasn’t getting enough protein. My natural preference is to favor plant foods over animal foods, just because I prefer the taste. But with the dietary considerations that I take for health reasons (lactose intolerance, soy intolerance, and beans and legumes make me
pregnant sick), I was having a really hard time getting enough protein without relying on protein powder supplements or mainlining meat and eggs. Neither of those options appealed to me, so I decided to give gelatin a shot. (Obviously, gelatin is not my main source of protein, but it has been a great way to get an extra serving or two of protein without having to choke down chicken breasts or tilapia.)
The problem was, I wasn’t exactly sure what the heck to do with it…until I remembered a recipe I’d seen about a year ago. This was a recipe for “Homemade Healthy Fruit Snacks” from Wellness Mama. I already have an ardent affection for “gummy” snacks, so these were a great choice. If nothing else, it was bound to be better than my small drug problem…aka my addiction to gummy vitamins. (If someone tells you they actually stick to the suggested dose of 2 “gummies,” they’re lying. It’s physically impossible to eat just 2. Trust me, I’ve tested the theory many times.)
So last week I let my granola freak-flag fly and gave those bad boys a whirl. In all honesty, the first batch sucked. I used
crappy flavorless frozen blueberries and pineapple juice and not enough honey and didn’t stir fast enough, and it was a mostly-bland pan of jiggly purple protein with lots of chunks of undissolved gelatin sprinkled throughout. Don’t worry, I gave it another go, and this time they worked out swimmingly. I did the math, and this recipe filled an 8×8 inch pan (the “gummy” mixture was about 1 inch deep), and the whole deal has about 77 grams of protein (11 packets of gelatin with 7 grams of protein in each packet). Maybe it’s just me, but it’s not really hard to eat 1/5 of that pan, so to get 15 grams of protein from a little snack like that? Not shabby!
My best tips would be:
- If you use a whisk, all the gelatin will clump up inside the wires and you’ll be doomed. (Not an exaggeration). This isn’t the time to break out your emerald-encrusted rose gold Williams and Sonoma whisk that you bought for the price of a used car. Just use a spoon like any normal peasant.
- Don’t skimp on the honey. This is the time to channel your inner Winnie-the-Pooh and pour that golden goodness in there like it’s going out of style. If you don’t like honey, then I would suggest using a simple syrup, maple syrup, or some stevia…because trust me, bland gelatin is pretty repulsive.
- Choose good fruit for the puree. By good I mean sweet. I used frozen dark cherries – defrosted and then pureed- this go-round, and it made a big difference over those nasty little blue balls of sadness. (Just so we’re on the same page, that’s a reference to the blueberries.)
- Use a juice that is sweet. Possibly make it extra sweet. I used half a cup of apple juice concentrate mixed with half a cup of water. It was like superjuice, and it was way better than the pineapple juice in my first attempt.
I want to say that you could use flavored Smirnoff and make these “grown up gummies,” but I have no idea if that would work or not…but if you give it a shot (see what I did there?), let me know how it goes!
- You really do have to move quickly for this to turn out. Have everything measured, poured, and ready to go before you begin mixing the gelatin into the water.
- The combo that I had success with was cherries + diluted apple juice concentrate + honey. I think cherries + diluted grape juice concentrate + stevia would work well, too, as would strawberries + cranberry juice + honey.
- It’s entirely acceptable to simply leave the whole thing in the pan and cut pieces out as you go. We’re peasants that use spoons instead of whisks, so what else would you expect?
Check out the recipe HERE and let me know how it goes for you. These truly are tasty, and I’ve found it’s a really handy way to get some extra protein and enjoy something sweet (and you don’t have to cook or even heat anything!).
Now go “get jiggy” with it!