Oh, jello … the sugar (or chemical) laden mystery food of hospitals and cafeterias. I went to public school and got my fair share of this stuff back then. The “Jell-o” gelatin in stores is packed with sugar (or artificial sweeteners), dyes, additives, and gelatin from factory-farmed animals. I certainly wasn’t going to make that for my kids!
Then I found out how healthy gelatin from grass-fed animals can be a good protein source. It can improve skin and hair quality and help the digestive system. I was drinking unflavored gelatin in my tea and in smoothies, but it dawned on me that I could use that same gelatin to make homemade jello.
This healthy version features natural fruits and fresh juices to make jello my kids love and I’m happy with them eating.
Homemade Jello Recipe
While this isn’t an everyday snack in our house, it’s made from fresh fruit and juices with quality gelatin. In my book, it’s a healthy treat that kids of all ages can enjoy! It’s naturally low-carb, paleo, and gluten-free. The recipe is open-ended and you can choose whichever combination of fruit and juice you prefer, or leave out the fruit altogether. Just don’t use pineapple juice since the enzymes in it prevent the gelatin from gelling.
If you have a juicer you can use fresh juice in this recipe. You can also add a little maple syrup, stevia, or honey to sweeten if desired. Personally, I find it sweet enough with just the juice.
Here are a few ideas to try:
- Orange juice and cranberry juice
- Orange juice and blueberries
- White grape juice with strawberries or peaches
- Apple juice with some cinnamon
- Watermelon juice with fresh mint leaves
Collagen vs. Gelatin
You’ve probably heard me sing the praises of grass-fed gelatin and collagen by now. Their health benefits include stronger nails, healthier hair, and improved gut health. While they’re similar in how they work in the body, there is a difference when it comes to making homemade healthy jello.
Collagen peptides are my go-to when it comes to my morning coffee and smoothies. I can make an iced mushroom coffee with collagen powder and not worry about it turning into mushroom jello. On the other hand, collagen will not gel when it comes to homemade jello.
Be sure you use gelatin, not collagen peptides. Gelatin from a healthy grass-fed source is especially beneficial and will “gel” when chilled, while collagen peptides will not.
Knox is a popular grocery store brand but it’s from conventionally raised cows. I’ve used Great Lakes beef gelatin in the past, but I find it doesn’t gel nearly as well as other brands. Right now my favorite gelatin for making healthy jello and gummies is the Vital Proteins brand. Not only are they grass-fed, but they hold up well in jello recipes.
Healthy Homemade Jello Recipe
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 TBSP gelatin powder (not collagen peptides)
- ¼ cup water (very hot)
- 1½ cups fruit juice
- 1-2 cups fresh fruit (optional)
- Pour the cold water into a medium size mixing bowl. Sprinkle the grass-fed gelatin powder evenly over the top and allow it to bloom for a minute.
- Stir briskly until mixed. It will start to thicken a lot.
- Add the ¼ cup of really hot water and stir to mix. It should be thinner now.
- Pour in the 1 and 1/2 cups of juice and mix well.
- Place fresh fruit in a layer on the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish if using. You can also use different shaped molds. I used a bundt pan lightly greased with coconut oil so the gelatin would more easily come out of the mold.
- Pour the gelatin mixture over the fruit and stir slightly to make sure it has coated the fruit.
- Put in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
- Cut into cubes or scoop out with a melon baller to make cute shapes.
- This recipe can be doubled for a bigger batch.
- Don’t use fresh pineapple juice as the enzymes prevent the gelatin from “gelling.”
- The nutrition data was calculated with fresh strawberries for the added fruit.
More Ways to Use Gelatin
Looking for more yummy recipes to use up that can of gelatin powder?
- Stir some into hot soups like this Squash Soup Recipe
- Elderberry Marshmallows
- Matcha Marshmallows
- Flu-Busting Elderberry Gummy Bears
Ever made homemade jello? What are your favorite juice and fruit combinations? Leave a comment and share below!