How to Make Healthy Homemade Jello – Yes, really! This homemade gelatin recipe is made from natural ingredients, and natural sweeteners, without any dye or additives. (Dairy-free, gluten-free & paleo approved!)
It’s January, the month of healthy eating resolutions, sugar-free challenges, Whole30 and All The Things. This I know. And yet, here I am, sharing a recipe for healthy homemade gelatin (like, homemade Jello, y’all!). And I don’t feel one bit bad about it.
Gelatin can be a great healthy snack or healthy dessert. It tastes great, it’s easy to make, and there are even some health benefits, too!
Here’s why I love it (and why I think you and your kids will, too!)
WHY WE LOVE THIS HOMEMADE GELATIN (JELLO):
WHAT’S IN HOMEMADE JELLO? JUST 2-3 NATURAL INGREDIENTS! In my homemade jello, I use fruit or veggie juice, natural sweetener (honey–and it’s totally optional!), and grass-fed beef gelatin (note: NOT gelatin protein powder). I love using fruit/veggie blends, like peach mango veggie juice for the beautiful orange colored gelatin, cranberry raspberry juice, or blueberry pomegranate juice. You can even use fresh-pressed juice!
IT’S FRESH-TASTING, BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL WITHOUT ANY DYES OR ADDITIVES. The 3-ingredient (or 2-ingredient!) recipe is about as simple as it gets, and all the color is from the beautiful natural colors of the juice you choose. Plus, there’s no refined sugars, artificial flavors, or additives!
HOMEMADE JELLO IS FREE OF ALL MAIN ALLERGENS–gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nuts, fish, etc. But it does contain gelatin which is derived from beef bones (so it’s not vegan). Because of that, the quality of the gelatin I use is crucial to me. Keep reading to see what I like –>
COLLAGEN VS. GELATIN
Collagen and gelatin are great sources of protein and known to benefit digestion, hair, skin, nails, and joints. They contain the same amino acids, but each behaves differently. Here’s a quick snapshot of collagen vs. gelatin:
- Also called collagen peptides, or hydrolyzed collagen
- Digests faster than gelatin.
- Can be used in hot or cold liquids. I use collagen in hot and cold things all the time, from smoothies, to soups, to herbal tea and sauces.
- It’s flavorless (though I wouldn’t recommend drinking it mixed with straight water) and doesn’t have any gritty or chalky texture.
- NOTE – We’re specifically using powdered gelatin, NOT gelatin-based protein powder
- Creates a gel or Jello effect when prepared.
- Commonly used in gut-healing diet protocols, like AIP (Autimmune Paleo), GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). Gelatin digests more slowly, and coats the small intestine, which can help with healing the gut.
- Must be “bloomed” first in cold liquid to plump and thicken the gelatin granules, then dissolved in hot liquid.
- Only dissolves in hot liquids. If you attempt to put it in cold liquid without heating it later, it will bloom but won’t dissolve. (And create an unpleasant thick lumpy texture.)
Want to know more? This article does a great job breaking down everything you need to know (from the chemistry (long & short chain amino acids) to how they’re made, uses, and more.
NOTES & FAQ FOR HOMEMADE GELATIN:
WHAT KINDS OF FRUIT JUICE CAN YOU USE FOR HOMEMADE JELLO? Almost any flavor of juice! I recommend 100% fruit or fruit/veggie blend juices. The only exception is fresh pineapple juice. (The enzymes in pineapple can break down the gelatin so it won’t gel properly.) My favorites are a peach-mango fruit & veggie blend (the orange one you see pictured), blueberry-pomegranate, and cranberry raspberry. (all 3 are pictured in the video/photos)
WHERE DO YOU BUY GELATIN? I like Vital Proteins brand grass-fed gelatin (in the GREEN container), which I can find at Sprouts, on Amazon, or health stores, like Whole Foods. Great Lakes is another good brand I’ve tried (from Thrive Market or Amazon). If all else fails, you can look for something like Knox brand gelatin (which is more readily available but isn’t grass fed). Note: do NOT try to make this using protein powder or gelatin-based protein powder. It’s not the same product and will not work correctly.
IS HOMEMADE JELLO VEGAN? No, I’m sorry. It’s dairy-free, but homemade jello is made with gelatin, which is animal-derived. I haven’t tested it with a vegan gelatin substitute, but this article about vegan gelatin alternatives (like agar agar) might be helpful!
CAN I MAKE THIS JELLO WITHOUT ANY ADDED SWEETENER? It’s totally up to you and your taste preferences. Some juices are sweeter than others. I would never sweeten juice for drinking, but the gelatin does dilute the juice flavor slightly, and I find that adding the honey or agave brings it back up to its regular flavor. Again, it’s totally up to you!
DOES THE GELATIN ADD FLAVOR? Not to the finished product, but I will warn you it DOES smell *awful* when mixed with liquid to bloom. Don’t panic! Once it’s dissolved in the warm juice, the flavor/smell disappears. Pinky promise.
HOW LONG WILL HOMEMADE JELLO KEEP IN THE FRIDGE? My recommendation for the best texture/flavor is 4-5 days, though it usually won’t spoil or break down until the 7-10 day mark.