How to Eat More Gelatin
Back in the day, when our Grammies were girls, food was different. Most of our Grammies and Grandpas grew up on what we call today “traditional food”. Traditional food is a way of eating that is seasonal, local, and often built around recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Our ancestors were super savvy about using every last bit of food, and when the meat from an animal was consumed, the nutrition didn’t stop. Cartilagenous bones from animals were recognized as incredibly rich sources of nutrients and were boiled over many hours to make gelatin- and mineral- rich broths. These broths were the base of many meals and were often consumed daily.
Nowadays, most of us never eat gelatin, and if we do, it’s probably neon-coloured and full of artificial colours, flavours, and sugar.
It’s a wiggly wobbly shame!
Gelatin is a jelly-like protein derived from animal collagen. It is very high in the amino acids glycine and proline, which both help to stimulate collagen production. Collagen is the main protein that forms our connective tissues. That means collagen is essential to healthy tendons, ligaments, skin, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, the gut, intervertebral discs, and even the cornea of the eye!
You could say that collagen is the glue that holds us together.
Although gelatin is not a complete protein (it lacks tryptophan and is low in isoleucine, threonine, and methionine), it enhances the body’s ability to use protein. This is partly due to glycine’s role in stimulating gastric juices that are needed to digest and metabolize proteins.
What else does gelatin do?
- Used in the treatment of stomach ulcers. Gelatin peptides strengthen the mucous membranes of the stomach, which can help both prevent and heal ulcerations. 
- Anecdotal reports of reducing wrinkles. Wrinkles are thought to be in part caused by collagen reduction and one study showed the consumption of gelatin reduced UV-light induced collagen degradation in mice. 
- May stimulate growth hormone in the body , which encourages the formation of muscle mass and the breakdown of fat. Athletes are always trying to encourage growth hormone because it translates to a better body composition.
- Gelatin is sometimes even used as a sleep-aid! This is thought to work because of its high glycine content. Glycine increases GABA levels in the brain, which is a calming neurotransmitter.
- For weight loss, and for good digestion in general, your last meal should be eaten no less than about three hours before bed. But if you’re like me and get the nibbles before bed, try this calorie-saving tip: Eat some homemade jello! I sweeten mine exclusively with stevia so it’s low in sugar and calories but it feels filling.
- Helps to regulate the bowels when consumed with enough water.
- Anecdotal reports of reducing cellulite (which is thought to be partially caused by the breakdown of the collagen “netting” that keeps cutaneous fat in a smooth pattern).
Now on to the recipes! But first, a basic primer on gelatin powder ratios and how to mix…
The main formula for powdered gelatin is: 1 Tbsp gels 2 cups of liquid.
Gelatin is best dissolved starting with cool or lukewarm liquids, then heating it up to dissolve the gelatin crystals. Adding gelatin directly to hot liquids will create a clumpy sticky mess.
*Please note that in all recipes, I use the grass-fed beef gelatin powder from Great Lakes Gelatin. Don’t confuse their gelatin powder (which is in a red can) with their collagen hydrolysate powder (which is in a lime green can). The collagen hydrolysate is also a wonderful product with many similar benefits, but does not have the gelling property that gelatin does, which is essential to these recipes.
Honey Hibiscus Jello
1 ½ cups boiling water
½ cup room temperature water
4 hibiscus tea bags
2 Tbsp gelatin powder
2 Tbsp honey
- Pour boiling water over tea bags and let steep for 1 hour. Wring out tea bags and discard.
- When tea has steeped, add gelatin powder to ½ cup of room temperature water and whisk, ensuring no clumps form.
- Add gelatin mixture, hibiscus tea, and honey to a small saucepan and heat over low until honey and gelatin crystals have dissolved.
- Pour prepared liquid into four individual dessert bowls or into one large glass Tupperware container.
- Refrigerate until gelatin has set, about 4 hours.
Have you tried gelatin yet and noticed the benefits?
Alex Picot-Annand, BA (Psych), Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Certified Life Coach