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Cherry Gel-O

06 May

vintage jelloWhen I was 12, a friend at a birthday party explained that bones from a dead animal were ground up and mixed with “juice” to make that awesome wiggle in the J-E-L-L-O that was being served. My vegetarian friend was aghast and declared she would never eat the stuff again. Other kids shouted the standard “EWWWWW” and “GROSS!!”

I distinctly remember thinking: “Huh. That’s interesting. Where’s my spoon?”  {My carnivorous nature couldn’t be denied even then!}  The cool part is that I had no idea that gelatin could actually be awesome for my body.

If you have hung around GRUB very much in the last 2 years, you have probably heard me talk about bone broth. It’s a superfood for gut healing, and since many of our guts need some serious healing, the subject of how to make a perfect, tasty and gelatinous broth is a common one. The good news is that powdered gelatin has the same properties as our almighty bone broth!

Gelatin IS actually made from animals, this is true, and it’s the collagen from those animals that gives the gelatin its magical binding properties.  Today we want to show you the kind of gelatin we have in the GRUB pantry because it qualifies as real food, and, if you choose to eat animals, it has some seriously amazing and healing properties.

{The methods used to make gelatin vary greatly, and the practices and parts used to make the gelatin for highly processed candies and products are questionable for sure (and that “juice” in the brightly-colored dessert?  That’s high-fructose corn syrup).  Like anything, the quality of the ingredients matters.}

So, gelatin is collagen. Collagen is a protein that strengthens the connective tissue in our bodies. It’s what allows us to be elastic! It’s what deteriorates with age and causes our skin to wrinkle.

Gelatin is also comprised of 18 amino acids, with glycine and proline being the two stand-outs. They are often affectionately referred to as the “healer and sealer” of the body. They are, literally, the glue that keeps us together, as well as what generates cell growth and allows our bodies to build connective tissue.

Why is this important?

Well, in the case of a compromised digestive system {which is an issue for anyone with an auto-immune disease, food intolerances, IBS, or allergies}, the properties in gelatin help to repair the digestive tract and allow the body to heal the parts of us that are porous, inflamed and damaged. Given what we know about the gut and its connection to our whole health, it’s not a bad idea for anyone to focus on healthier digestion, whether you have tummy troubles or not.

These awesome properties of gelatin also provide the building blocks for healthy joint function. Gelatin is being used to treat arthritis, osteoporosis and sports-related injuries.  It’s often referred to as the “fountain of youth“, as those same collagenous properties can benefit skin quality, hair health and nail growth!

There are all sorts of claims all over the internet about what else gelatin can do: aid in weight loss, promote better sleep, heal wounds faster. You’ll have to try it for yourself to see if this is true, but the testimonials aren’t terribly surprising given the astonishing make-up of this simple white powder.

There are many kinds of gelatin out there, and we suggest buying from clean, grassfed animals, like this Great Lakes brand. That boxed brand in the grocery store is from factory farmed animals, which makes it a no go.

We use 2 types of grassfed gelatin in the GRUB pantry: we call them the Red Can and the Green Can. The Red Can is cooked collagen, abundant GreatLakes-B-2in those good properties, and has the “gel” factor that makes juice into Jello. It’s great for making wiggly squares, marshmallows, puddings, and works as a thickener for ice cream and yogurt.

The Red Can is awesome if you want to get crafty in the kitchen, or make gut-healing gelatin treats for your kids! This variety needs to be dissolved in hot water or it gets goopy and weird. Also, a word to the wise, if you are a super-smeller and can detect even the faintest smells, the Red Can gelatin has a very faint musky smell. Some people say they can’t detect it, but my nose is good, and I know it’s there. Once you make it into something the smell isn’t detectable, but this gelatin can be tough to take down in a glass of water for this reason.

The Green Can is a slightly different type of gelatin called collagen hydrolysate, and it will not cause your liquids to gel. It also, thankfully, has absolutely no smell. It’s treated to reduce its own molecular weight, making it easy to dissolve in any type of liquid – hot or cold! So it’s perfect for getting a quick daily dose. Some people believe this variety is more easily assimilated into the body, but both types give you a terrific boost of protein, collagen and those all-important amino acids.

So get to know gelatin! And take it daily. The recommended dose is one tablespoon, but please start small, listen to your body, and work your way up. After a few weeks, take note: Do your crappy knees feel better? Is your digestion running smoother?

Here are 3 ways I use both my Red and Green cans to get my daily dose:

1. Hiding the gelatin (Green Can): This is useful for getting into a kid’s diet, especially one who might be lacking sources of good, clean protein. I use it regularly in my son’s foods for its gut healing properties. It’s awesome in his smoothies, and cooks perfectly sprinkled into pancakes, waffles and muffins.

2. Cooking the goodies (Red Can): It’s so easy to make jello, and the recipe below has never failed me! Invest in a mold and make it fancy, or just cut it into wiggly cubes and let the giggles begin! Or, if you’ve gone gluten free and struggle to find a good flour to thicken your gravies and sauces, look no further; gelatin does the job easily.

3. Drink it straight up (Green Can): At first, the thought of drinking the powder gave me the willies, but after stirring the Green Can powder into a glass of water, I realized how easy it goes down. I know people who stir it into their coffee and tea without batting an eye. Give it a shot!

For what its worth, powdered gelatin doesn’t replace bone broth for me. Like with all real foods, getting your nourishment from as close to the source as possible is key. Our bodies understand real food the best, made with as little industrial interference as possible. But when it’s hot outside, or when I don’t get my bone broth made, these Cans really come in handy.

So what about you? Are you thinking of using gelatin? What’s stopping you?  Or do you already use one or both of these varieties? How? Share your expertise, and tell us about it in the Comments section below!

To your guts (and joints too)!


Cherry Gel-O (inspired by

1 1/2 cups of 100% pure cherry juice

1/4 cup cool water

1/4 cup HOT water (nearly boiling)

1 Tb “Red Can” powdered gelatin (I use Great Lakes brand)

1. Pour the cool water into a mixing bowl, and whisk in the powdered gelatin until well-mixed and liquid begins to thicken.

2. Stir in the hot water, then add the juice, mixing very well.

3. Pour into candy molds {or ice cube trays, or a baking dish with sides}.  Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

4. To serve: pop Gel-O out of molds or trays, or cut into desired shapes if using a baking dish.  Keep uneaten Gel-O covered in the fridge.





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Ryanna Battiste, Integrative Health Coach

Ryanna is a coach, accomplished speaker, and recipe developer with extensive experience helping women cultivate a mindset of self-love so they may heal and thrive while developing new habits in the kitchen.

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7 Responses to “Cherry Gel-O”

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  4. Kristen September 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Do you think gelatin could be used as a substitute for cornstarch?

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