The Joy of Gelatin (and collagen, too)

My mom’s standard picnic and potluck dish was what came to be known as Jello JIGGLERS: Not the soft, scoopable, jagged, yet Jiggly mini-mountains of hospital food fame, but solid little squares of finger food, brightly colored for summer.  I know they’re not everyone’s thing, but they are wonderful little treats for young and old kids and CAN be packed with nutrition.


Gelatin is derived from collagen, found in animal bones. The traditional way to consume collagen, which is a structural protein composed of about 1,400 amino acids that contribute to our body’s bone, skin, joint and digestive health, is through broth made from the bones of grass-fed animals. You can also use gelatin powders or supplements.  Gelatin is denatured collagen and meant to be added to other foods to improve digestability or taken as a supplement to improve hair, nails, skin and joints. If you have issues with any of these or would like a little digestion boost, this whole food source of protein might be a convenient way to add gelatin to your life.


desserts_gelMake sure your gelatin is derived from cows or pigs who were raised in sunshine and on grass, without antibiotics.  Most of us are familiar with gelatin that gels desserts and thickens sauces. Add it to pie fillings, ice cream, yogurt, puddings or panna cotta.  You can even try your hand at making homemade marshmallows with it.  All of these are awfully kid and grown-up friendly ways to consume this nutritional secret weapon.  Or if your homemade bone broth didn’t gel up, add powdered gelatin. It’s also a nice way to get some nourishment into some broth and then offer it to someone who is under the weather.  Or to someone who consumed gelatin the night before the way I hear some college students do.


This brings us to the fun and, usually fruity, gummy snacks category.  They are great for

These MAY contain food coloring. I'd just use real fruit juice!
These MAY contain food coloring. I’d just use real fruit juice!

summer potlucks and just little snacks for the kids.  You can make them as plain or frilly as you like.  I’ve made them with kombucha, fruit juice, and coconut milk and lime juice, a family favorite. I’ve seen them made with coffee, cream, chocolate, fruit pieces and essential oils.  You can use your favorite sweeteners, including stevia.  The easiest way to make them is to put them in a square or rectangular pan and then slice them into squares.  But you could also have fun with silicone molds and make little gummy bears, gummy stars, gummy flowers or gummy hearts.   See end of post for a few recipe suggestions!


In addition to making little desserts, you could also make little gummy vitamins to treat and heal whatever health issues might affect your family.  I’ve made them with herbal teas and tinctures, magnesium and elderberries.  Been trying to get more apple cider vinegar in your diet? Try it in a gummy.  Need more vitamin C?  Add it to your GUMMIES! Can’t get enough probiotics in the kids? Try them in a gummy.    Low vitamin D? Add it to your GUMMIES!  When you make your gummy, you simply substitute the water for the tea, vinegar or other liquid, OR add the supplement to the liquid while the liquid is warm and then let it set up.


Another form of gelatin is Collagen Hydrolysate.  While it looks much like gelatin powder, it has been hydrolyzed, or broken down by water, and does not congeal.  This pure protein is quickly absorbed in the digestive tract and provides all the amino acids and benefits of gelatin. Since it does not gel, you can use it in different ways while still getting gelatin’s benefits.  It is absolutely tasteless and dissolves completely.


 * Try it as a protein powder.  Many protein powders have questionable ingredients.  This would be pure protein.  11g per 2 tablespoon dose.
* Add it to smoothies.
* Add a tablespoon or two to your tea or coffee
* Love Bulletproof Coffee?  Add this to your mix.
* Make your hot cocoa even better with some collagen.
* Add it to miso soup.


Gelatin has many health benefits, but can also be fun and appeal to the kid in all of us!

A few of my favorite recipes:
Creamscicle Gummy Fruit Snacks – Tween’s fave
Fruity Kombucha Jello Bites
Coconut Lime Finger Jello – my fave
Chewable Vitamins – great for kids

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