Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gelatin For Your Skeleton

Gelatin is an amazing, nutritious food that is so often overlooked. Perhaps because the name gelatin (at least for my generation) is synonymous with Jell-O brand gelatin and nobody spelled out the advantages of gelatin while they were singing the J-E-L-L-O jingle.

Well I have a bit of good holiday cheer for you!!! Watching it wiggle and jiggle while your children grin IS a good thing and it IS good for you. As long as it is homemade, of course!

Gelatin is a major component of healing the gut wall and if it is accidentally excluded from a healing diet you will end up either treading water, getting worse, or perhaps having to take glucosamine + chondroitin for knee/hip pain. Why not skip the supplements and instead eat some delicious foods? Homemade (aka "real") jello, homemade marshmallows, stocks/broths/soups with gelatin in them. There is a fair amount of scientific background on gelatin on the "Why Broth is Beautiful" link from the Weston A Price website.

But here's what I can tell you, Mama to Mama. Awhile back I ate an extremely gelatinous broth (so good I craved it for months afterwards) and the next morning the skin on my face had noticeably improved in quality. Enough to make me think, "Whoa - why does that look so much better?" Of course, I didn't keep up the gelatin and that went away after another day or so... I like to learn my lessons the hard way. I should note that the skin difference can also be the fats in those amazing broths, but I really think it was the gelatin.

So now my family is in a gelatin feeding frenzy. It is not a terribly expensive item to keep in a kitchen pantry, it keeps for a long time so I can buy it bulk, and it is SO GOOD FOR US!!! What is not to love about gelatin? These days we are instituting the 1950s tradition of dessert every night with dinner, but our dessert is homemade jello!!! My girls are ecstatic. This is SO easy that there is literally no acceptable excuse for not doing it multiple times / week.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeasy Jello Recipe
(serves 4)
Put 1 Tbsp of gelatin in 1/4 cup of water and let it soften (about 5 mins)
Heat 3/4 cup of water to a boil
Add the boiling water to the softened gelatin
Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved
Add 1 cup of fruit juice
Pour into a mold, if desired
Refrigerate until it is set, about 4 hours

Here are a few extra notes:
  1. I am very lazy, I mean busy! I do all of my jello making in my measuring cups and do not use a pretty mold. It is all about minimizing cleanup for me. Try it multiple ways and see what works best for you!
  2. If you are on the GAPS diet you may want to know that the SCD PecanBread peeps recommends specific brands based on a company asserting (on corporate letterhead) there is no added sugars. Here is that link / listing. Our family uses the Knudson's Just Juice brand and we have been very happy with their products. Oh, and I would not recommend anything in a can so you may want to skip the Dole pineapple juice. Or juice/blend it yourself from a fresh pineapple. YUM!
  3. If you are not on the GAPS diet but are watching your sugar intake you may want to see the above note and use those same juices. Sugar is very inflammatory and the more you can stick to a small level of fruit sugars in your diet the healthier you will be.
  4. Play and experiment with the recipe and don't worry about things being totally perfect. I promise never to post anything that has to be done with measurements that are "just so" because I don't cook that way anyway!
  5. One of our favorite jellos is Just Tart Cherry + lime juice. Mix and match and play all day. If you do this daily (it really takes less than 10 minutes AND the kids will cheer after dinner, which really means they will finish all the sardines you put on their plate just to get the jello) you will have plenty of time to mix and match flavors and see what tastes best to your family.
  6. There are two schools of jello lovers. Purists who do not like anything "in" their jello and those who like a little fruit added. If you want to check out the addition of fruit to your jello just do it after the jello has started to set up a little. I am craving an experiment with the fermented cranberry orange relish from Thanksgiving in a jello. This is on the list for next year's Thanksgiving treats!
  7. If you want your jello to be a little fizzy, try adding some water/juice kefir as part of the liquid. A little should go a long way and you can follow a jello recipe that uses soda for an idea of the proportions. If I experiment and master that one I'll let you know!

FYI, here are the two gelatins I use:
Fish Gelatin
Grass-Fed Beef Gelatin

Happy jiggling!


  1. I wonder how one would incorporate gelatin/jello without having to add any fruit/sugar for those of us still in early intro (GAPS)? I don't feel like I get enough from my broths, so adding commercial gelatin would be beneficial, but I'm not doing fruit yet. Hmmm....

  2. If you are not doing any fruits and jello is not allowed then start throwing extra gelatin into your broth/soups. Another idea would be to put a little in any gravies/sauces you make. I think the Europeans have special recipes that mix gelatin with meat dishes as well. I haven't researched that (yet) but I will one day!

  3. Glad to know that I'm not the only one giving my child homemade jello daily! Maybe I should get in on that action ;-)

  4. Just made the cherry-lime which is GREAT for the LODers!! We don't typically do juice, but I do allow a little cherry and lemon or lime, so yeay! I can probably even use our pear puree when I am making pear sauce and use that in one with water kefir to make it sparkly!


    1. Mmmmm... pear sauce + kefir water sounds amazing. I've added fermented cranberry sauce to it too and that is great. Nothing better than a little fizzzzzzz.