We've all been there: 9 pm, watching Netflix, kids are in bed, kitchen is clean, it's finally time to relax ... and then, bam! Craving city. You know you're not even hungry, but you just have to eat something. Well, have I got a craving busting recipe for you!
This recipe was born from necessity, mainly from my night time cravings for carbs and sugary treats. I've struggled with acid reflux since I was 14 (Zantac was the reason I learned how to swallow pills), and when I eat carbs anytime after dinner, I'm guaranteed to feel acid coming up my throat about an hour later, just in time for bed!
Then, I don't sleep well (some nights it's so bad that I even sleep on the couch, just so that I can sit up more and let gravity do some of the work) and I feel like crap the next day, which just leads me to crave more sugary carbs late at night as a pick me up. Plus, I need caffeine to get through the day, which can trigger my anxiety and make my acid reflux worse. It's a vicious cycle.
I know that I should just stop eating after 8 pm, but most nights I just can't stop myself. Welcome to the club, right?
So, instead of beating myself up for having the cravings in the first place, or instead of eating what I know will just cause me acid reflux and keep me up all night, I decided to get proactive and make some snacks that will actually satisfy my cravings AND help heal my digestive system: gelatin gummies.
Yes, my solution is to make a healthy, adult version of gummy bears. Hear me out!
To understand why these work, you have to know a little bit more about gelatin, what it is, why it might be the best thing ever to happen to your health, and how to get more of it. To find the recipe for craving busting gelatin gummies, keep scrolling to the bottom!
All about Gelatin
Yes, we're talking about old school gelatin, which is what gives Jell-O it's jiggle.
Gelatin comes from collagen, and collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. The majority of our skin is made up of collagen (upwards of 70% of protein in our skin is collagen), and it's also super important to make the cushions between our joints and other connective tissue. The simplest description is that collagen is the glue that holds our body together.
We only make collagen in our bodies until our mid-20's. Every year after the age of 30, we lose 1-2% of collagen in our body. So when you're 40, you've already lost 10-20%. By 50, you've lost 20-40%, and by 60, you've lost 30-60% of your bodies' collagen. Oh hey, wrinkles and joint pain!
I wrote about collagen in my last blog post, where I shared that I add it to my butter tea - yes, this is a thing.
Gelatin is collagen after it's been cooked with water. They have the same protein profile, are both flavourless, but slightly have different properties. All gelatin contains collagen, but collagen doesn't contain gelatin.
Collagen has been pre-digested, with shorter amino acid chains (aka. protein building blocks) that are easier to digest and dissolve in both hot and cold water. Collagen doesn't solidify or gel at any temperature.
Gelatin has longer amino acid chains, only dissolves in hot liquids, and produces a gel or solid when it cools down. Since it's a bigger molecule that is digested and absorbed slower than collagen, it can cause some digestive upset if you eat too much at once.
Both gelatin and collagen come from cooking down connective tissue of animals, like the skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, and joints, and scales from fish. You know, all the parts that we don't eat anymore now that cheap meat is everywhere.
Health benefits of gelatin
Why on earth would you want to eat something that was cooked down from meat carcasses? Because it's damn good for you!
Several studies have been done on gelatin, so this isn't just any old "trendy health food of the month". Benefits of gelatin includes:
- easing digestion, which is why it's a cornerstone of gut healing diets like GAPS, AIP, or SCD diets.
- improving the health of hair, skin and nails! I can personally attest that when I started using collagen, and now gelatin, that my skin has been glowing, my hair has been growing like crazy, and my nails are strong and long. One study showed that collagen supplementation may help improve skin elasticity and reduce roughness and skin aging.
- there's some evidence that daily collagen intake (remember, gelatin has collagen in it!) can help reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis. In this study, 52% of participants had significant reductions in their osteoarthritis pain after using a collagen supplement for 6 months compared to a placebo!
So there's LOTS of benefits of daily gelatin and collagen intake. Like I already said, I love using collagen in my morning butter tea, but you can also make amazing treats and desserts out of gelatin (like my craving busting gummies below!).
Natural sources of gelatin
You can get gelatin (and collagen) in your regular diet ... but it's going to involve a lot of meat that we don't traditionally eat in modern society. The kind that has a ton of connective tissue and gristle!
Hundreds and thousands of years ago, people ate a much different variety of meat than we do now. They didn't have modern refrigeration or factory farming, they had to hunt or farm their animals with no modern machinery, so meat wasn't necessarily as plentiful as it is now. Every single part of the animal was used, and respected even, for a variety of dishes and cooking methods.
Organ meat was revered for it's health giving properties, and connective tissue would have been cooked with everything else just to provide another meal. People would have naturally been eating much more gelatin and collagen, not to mention most meats would have been grass-fed and on a more natural diet than they are now (meaning extra anti-inflammatory power in those foods).
One of the easiest ways to eat gelatin and collagen nowadays is to drink bone broth, and incorporate it into other dishes. Some people cook there pasta in bone broth, or just drink it straight out of the mug.
For bone broth to be full of gelatin, it has to simmer for a long time, upwards of 24 hours for chicken broth and 48 hours for beef broth. You know you've made a really good bone broth when it gels or turns solid. That's the gelatin!
Rarely can I get a bone broth to solidify, it's practically heartbreaking. If you're really wanting a gelatin rich bone broth, use more of the joints, neck bones, and feet. Yes feet, like chicken feet. Your broth will be so jelly!
We don't all want to sit around simmering bone broth 24/7 (although you could do it in your slow cooker, it's super easy!), so what's a girl who wants smooth skin and less pain in her joints going to do? Buy gelatin powder!
Now when I say gelatin powder, I don't mean the kind that you buy in the baking aisle to make jam or desserts out of. I mean meat or fish-based gelatin powders. This sounds super gross, but they're actually flavourless, easy to use, and there are many companies who make fantastic gelatin powder!
This company is probably the best known, and they have an amazing range of products to help you get your daily gelatin and collagen fix. I've personally used 3 of their products, and am really loving them!
Their Beef Gelatin is what I've been using in the recipe below for my healthy gummies, and it's totally flavourless and easy-to-use. I've also used it to make a super-rich and dairy-free chocolate mousse that was fantastic!
Their Collagen Peptides is what I'm currently using in my morning butter tea, and I'm surprised that I'm not getting as much digestive disturbance as I did with other brands. Two thumbs up!
Lastly, I purchased their Beauty Collagen in strawberry lemon flavour. I'm not a huge fan of flavoured waters to begin with, so I just couldn't get on board with this powder. However, I can see adding it to smoothies for a healthy kick of collagen! For all of you wanting a more interesting water experience (and you're not already adding 100% pure essential oils for flavour), try this line!
Vital Proteins is constantly coming out with interesting products to change the way we get collagen and gelatin in our diets, like their dairy-free Collagen Creamer (for coffee) line, their Matcha Collagen line, and their Greens & Veggies line.
Great Lakes GelatiN
I haven't personally purchased from this company because it's not easy to get it shipped to Canada, however, they've been around for a LONG time. The company was founded in 1922, and they pivoted to the health market in 1988.
Great Lakes Gelatin doesn't have as many options as the trendy Vital Proteins lines, however it's a good quality and is much more affordable.
For most recipes you'll need an unflavoured collagen (aka. Collagen Hydrolysate) and unflavoured gelatin. GLG has both bovine (cow) and porcine (pig) options for gelatin, all being sourced from grass-fed and pastured animal populations.
So are you ready for this healthy gummy recipe that will help you curb your nighttime snack attacks AND help heal your gut and fix your skin in the process? Here you go!
Prep time: 8 minutes
COOLING TIME: 1-2 hourS
Makes 12 to 24 gummies
1 cup pomegranate juice
4 tablespoons of grass-fed gelatin powder
1 tablespoon of honey (or to taste, you could also use Stevia)
4 drops of citrus essential oil, like lime, orange, lemon, or grapefruit*
*see note below
- Grease a mini muffin pan with coconut oil to make sure you can get the gummies out! You could also buy fun silicone molds on Amazon or other quality kitchen stores.
- Pour half of the juice into a glass bowl or a large, heat-safe Pyrex measuring cup with a pouring spout. Sprinkle the gelatin on top in an even layer. This is called "blooming" the gelatin and ensures that you won't have any lumps that won't break up no matter how much whisking or blending you do! Leave it to sit while you move onto the next step.
- In the meantime, pour the rest of the juice into a small saucepan and heat over a medium flame until it's hot but not boiling. You should see wisps of steam coming off the juice and a few bubbles, but it shouldn't be bubbling regularly.
- Add the honey (or Stevia), if using, into the hot juice, and stir with a whisk until it's melted.
- Add the hot juice/honey mixture to the gelatin mixture, and whisk until smooth (this should only take about 10 seconds and there should be no lumps!).
- Add your essential oil of choice and gently whisk.
- Pour your juice + gelatin mixture into your molds.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour or until solid.
- Remove from the molds and enjoy! Keep in an airtight glass container in the fridge. May melt at warmer room temperatures.
- Eat 1-2 per day for optimal gut and skin health :) Safe for children and make a great alternative to sugar-filled candy!
*Note: check your label to make sure the brand you have is safe for internal consumption. I recommend doTERRA essential oils, click here to find out more.
By Ashley Srokosz, RHN
Adapted from Alice Nicholls of The Whole Daily