by kerry watson
when most people think of eating gelatin, images of bright green jello come to mind. i tend to think of the ghastly tomato aspic that my grandmother would always bring to our holiday parties growing up. but, gelatin wasn’t always relegated to the bottom shelf of the dessert aisle, in between the food coloring and the frosting in a tube. in fact, it was once a staple of healthy traditional diets around the world.
powdered gelatin products, these days, are usually derived from pigskins or cowhides. but, when it comes from a healthy grass-fed animal source, it has a multitude of healing properties. this type of gelatin is a great substitute for labor-intensive bone broth which is fast becoming the new superfood of 2015. most people don’t have the time or energy to make their own bone broth which involves sourcing pasture-raised, grass-feed beef (or free-range chicken, duck or organic pork) bones, roasting them in the oven (for richer flavor, but is an optional-but-totally-worth-it step) and then slow cooking them in a crockpot for a few days (or overnight).
gelatin is essentially bone broth that has been dehydrated and powdered. it’s chock full of collagen, cartilage, minerals and protein; however, it’s important to note that all gelatin sources are not the same. i’m a fan of “great lakes beef gelatin” which is a kosher and grass-fed product (and available on amazon). this is the one i like to use for all my gelatin recipes.
as i’ve mentioned above, gelatin has a long list of health benefits making it a wonderful addition to any healthy diet. some of these include:
- skin, hair, nail health and anti-aging: gelatin is an abundant source of collagen. the amino acid profile and protein make-up of collagen is what builds and maintains skin elasticity and tone. it also promotes cellular regeneration in all connective tissue. collagen is not absorbed into the dermis topically but taking it internally enables the body to utilize it in the extracellular matrix which contains tightly packed collagen fibers. the density and strength of these fibers are what prevent lines and wrinkles and it’s what keeps the skin looking youthful and rejuvenated. collagen also helps in wound repair making it an excellent food ingredient to eat before and after a sS signature facial.
- liver cleansing: glycine is an amino acid that is found in very high amounts in gelatin. our bodies need an enormous amount of glycine to transform toxic chemicals from our environment into benign substances so that they can be eliminated as waste from the body. glycine, along with other amino acids converts to a super anti-oxidant amino acid called glutathione. this amino acid happens to be a very important component in the liver’s ability to remove toxic elements from the body.
- intestinal health: studies have shown that gelatin has the ability to heal damage and inflammation in the small and large intestine (aka, leaky gut – which a lot of our acne-prone clients seem to have). it has a very high and bioavailable mineral content. this makes it a great source of nourishment to anyone with an impaired ability to absorb nutrients.
- healthy hormones: glycine, helps to regulate insulin production and prevent blood sugar imbalance. it is converted by the body to glutathione which plays an important role in the removal of excess estrogen which can build up in the body from from environmental toxins or dietary sources like soy and from taking birth control pills. an elevation of estrogen is a risk factor for hormonal acne break outs and for more serious conditions like estrogen-dependent cancers.
- joint health: high in glycine and proline, both highly anti-inflammatory amino acids which (together with vitamin c) help strengthen cartilage fibers and are incredibly wound healing (thus being able to help repair leaky guts).
- added protein: for those who crave nutritious, on-the-go breakfasts (or meal replacements/supplements), gelatin is a great source of protein – 6 grams per tablespoon! – that can be easily added to smoothies and shakes (some gelatins may be fussy about temperature, so you may have to experiment). it helps build lean muscle, is easily digestible, helps keep you full, boosts metabolism, and is soy and dairy free! you can try adding it to any smoothie, but this is the first recipe we’ve seen with it in it: dairy-free pumpkin nog smoothie!
there are many delicious ways to add more healthy gelatin to your diet. for further information, you can check out weston price’s stance on it here. i’m playing with recipes all the time. below is a recipe that i modified from one that i found here.
1/4 cup grass-fed beef gelatin
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
Place lemon juice and strawberries in a blender and blend on high until completely mixed.
Pour into a saucepan.
Add the honey and slowly add gelatin while whisking or mixing with a hand held mixer. Turn the heat on low, and continue to whisk the mixture for 5-10 minutes, until it becomes thin and everything is incorporated. Take off the heat. (You’ll want to use low and slow heat to be sure that the gelatin is completely melted and incorporated, so that you don’t end up with hard-to-chew bits of gelatin in the finished product).
Pour into silicone molds or a small baking dish.
Set in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to firm up.
If you used a small baking dish as a receptacle, cut into bite-size squares. Otherwise, remove gummies from their molds and enjoy!