Jackpot Jell-O Recipe: A Kid Food that Adults Should be Eating Too!
I love an artfully plated meal just as much as the next foodie, but I also have a soft spot in my heart for the “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” sort of dishes…yogurt and (a plethora of) toppings or burrito bowls, you know, that sort of thing. But yogurt and beans don’t necessarily settle well with many of us in the “just eat real food” camp, so I came up with this recipe. By the way, when I say Jell-O, and refer to all of it’s health benefits, I’m NOT referring to the boxed brand. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not “Real Food” because it’s full of additives like: artificial flavors, food coloring and more junk plus the quality of the gelatin is not up to par if you’re looking to boost your protein intake and improve your hair, skin, nails and so so so much more. Curious yet? Keep reading to find out why it’s so much more than just a “kid food” and which brands you SHOULD be buying to improve your health and wellness.
Jello (because this is actual a brand name and not just a jiggly dessert), or gelatin as it’s officially named, is fast. As you’ll read below, you’re basically mixing collagen powder with a liquid and letting it set in the fridge for a few hours before it’s ready for consumption. If you can mix protein powder into a smoothie you can do this. No rocket science involved.
IT’S AFFORDABLE & PROTEINACIOUS
It won’t break the bank. It just won’t. You can honestly even make it yourself (which is the cheapest route of all). Check out our Bone Broth-Liquid Gold Magic Juice post to read more on that. But, if know you’re not going to make bone broth every week, yet you want to experience all of the benefits from gelatin in a delightfully decadent meal, then this is it.
There are a ton of collagen supplements to choose from (and I’ve sorted through a lot of them and even pointed out my favorites for you below). They can range from $20-46 bucks on average. Do a little quick math and it comes out to as little as $2.50 per 12g serving of protein (which is about 2x as much protein as you’d get from a Larabar for about the same price) and a solid $4 less than a pasture raised chicken breast!
BUT STILL, WHY JELLO…?
Because of collagen. Collagen is the main structural protein found in animal connective tissue (animal bones and hides, as well as, fish skins, scales and bones) and most abundant protein in the human body. When boiled, it produces gelatin, hence the renewed popularity of bone broth. It supports ALL of our connective tissues in a big way (think hair, skin, nails, bones, joints, ligaments and of course muscles) and is the reason we can sit, stand, walk, run, swing, tumble and basically just move.
Collagen in particular is special because of it’s amino acid profile. Come again? Ok, super quick and over-simplified chemistry lesson so that we’re all on the same page:
Amino acids –> Collagen –> Protein
amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and collagen is one type of protein under the macronutrient umbrella called “protein”…got it?
I wanted to explain that, because it’s the deeper level stuff, the amino acid profile, that really sets collagen apart from other structural proteins.
Here’s why. Amino acids are generally put into three categories: essential amino acids, non-essential amino, and conditionally essential amino acids. Nonessential amino acids aren’t any less important than essential ones. The difference is that they nonessential amino acids and conditionally essential amino acids can (depending the circumstances) be made by your body where as essential amino acids can’t. Essential amino acids have to be obtained from food or from supplements.
Collagen is a big deal because it contains 18 (out of the 22 total) amino acids (counting all types). Four of these (proline, glycine, glutamine, and arginine) have impeccable inflammation reducing and healing properties, and although not technically considered “essential” are only produced in small amounts or not produced at all when the body is sick or under stress (which is a chronic issue in our culture) making it extremely important to consume them from dietary sources.
If you’re drinking bone broth, or oxtail soup or fish stew on the regular, you probably don’t really need a gelatin or collage supplement on the regular. But for those of us who aren’t, not will you benefit from getting a pretty sweet line-up of essential amino acids (as described above), you’ll also be taking in a nice dose of Proline, Glycine and Arginine (conditionally essential amino acids) which are known for reducing inflammation via these channels:
GLYCINE & PROLINE
- repair the gut
- lubricate the joints
- improve digestion, skin, sleep, anxiety and estrogen-dominance
- reduce cellulite
- promotes Human Growth Hormone which boosts your metabolism and weight loss
- healthy libido
All that goodness just by consuming gelatin?! That’s a pretty good deal wrapped up in a tasty package if you ask me.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM & HOW DO I READ THE LABEL?
Collagen supplements generally come from three sources:
- Beef (bovine)
- Pork (porcine)
- Fish (marine)
You’ll notice as you’re browsing that you’ll see a few different terms thrown around which basically all boil down to this important point:
- is it gonna make my liquid gel?
- is it going to stur into my liquid without gelling?
If you want your liquid to gel, look for these words on the label:
- collagen protein
If you want your supplement to stur into your liquid without gelling, look for these words on the label:
- hydrolized or hydrolysate
- collagen peptides
Each of these sources, provided that they’re coming from healthy land or sea animals (think pasture raised and wild), can provide the health benefits listed throughout this post. If you’re looking for the cheapest possible source, grab a bovine supplement. However, you should also at least keep in mind that a very small percentage of the population (approximately 3%) is allergic to bovine collagen. Allergic reactions to porcine collagen are rare since it’s more similar to human collagen.
I personally have been using bovine collagen for a while now without any issues, but after all my research into fish collagen, I’m thinking about switching, at least for a little while. It turns out that fish collagen, out of the three, has “superior bioavailability” i.e. when you down it, your body is able to ABSORB & SPREAD MORE of it and the nutrients it carries (usually at a faster rate, but not always) throughout your body. You can take the very best supplements in the world, but if your body can’t figure out how to use them, you’re literally going to piss your money away (because those unused nutrients will come out in your waste). Why? For the same reason that a little kid can crawl under a low coffee table making it to the other side quickly and the adult chasing them can’t: because fish collagen peptides (a chain of amino acids) are smaller and lighter. Therefore, they pass (through your intestinal barrier and) into your bloodstream more easily.
NOW, WHICH ONE TO BUY
With that said, here are a few really high quality supplements you can use make the recipe below or to mix into a smoothie or soup (or whatever else):
BEEF (all pasture raised)
Bulletproof Collagelatin (gels)
Custom Collagen Fish Gelatin (gels)
IF YOU’RE A VEGAN
If you really want to make this recipe, but you don’t eat meat, you still can. There isn’t a vegan source of collagen, but you can use agar agar powder (a type of seaweed) to make liquids gel. You won’t get the same benefits you would get if you were consuming a collagen supplement and agar agar only has a minuscule amount of protein, so you’ll certainly want to add in some nuts and seeds as a topping to pack in some protein. But at the very least, agar agar is:
- rich in iodine
- high in soluble fiber
- known to dispel radioactive toxins
- an appetite suppressant
- soothing to the digestive tract
- a mild laxative
Now, as they used to say in the old Jello-O Brand gelatin commercials, “There’s always room for Jell-O”!
- Bring the 4 C of water to a boil. Once it's bubbling, pour into a tea pot or glass bowl and dunk in the tea bags. Let them soak for 5 minutes, then remove and save for tea later or just trash them.
- Add the gelatin and cold water to a high sided, rectangular baking dish. I recommend glass because it's easy to remove the jello from here. Something like this is what I use at home and works really well. And...back to the jello. Stir the gelatin powder and the cold water together. It may end up a bit clumpy, and that's fine. It's honestly tough to mess this up.
- Finally, pour the tea over the gelatin and cold water combo. Mix and mix until everything dissolves, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- When it's nice and firm, divide the jello into squares and remove 4-6 jigglers (anyone remember that word from the old jello commercials?!). Place them in your bowl or cup that makes you smile.
- Top with coconut cream, apple (I like to shred it because it's pretty!) and cinnamon.
- Daintily eat with your favorite spoon (or just go ahead and skip the dainty part and just straight up devour it!)
- Pescatarian/Kosher/Halal option - If you're not into using beef gelatin, you could always use fish gelatin/collagen. Try this one by Custom Collagen. Depending on the bloom, you may find that jello made from fish gelatin is a bit more, shall we say "jiggly".
- And you if need a vegan option for this recipe, you can substitute equal amounts of powdered gelatin. Here's a good Agar Powder by Now Foods that's easy enough to find online or in health food stores. I personally have never made it this way, but from what I've read, jello from a vegan source will be somewhat different in texture.
- Also, get creative with this! Try other tea flavors (I like strong flavored teas myself). I have a hunch that hibiscus would be absolutely delicious! Top with different fruits or even try just putting them into the jello itself. Nuts, seeds and coconut flakes would make great toppings that add yet another layer of texture and nourishment.