The way I see it, food has amazing powers. For your taste buds, for your body and for your mind. And every once in a while, one of those foods comes along, and I wonder to myself –
How did I ever live without this stuff?
This is how I feel about gelatin.
I’m not talking about Bill Cosby’s J-E-L-L-O gelatin (it’s weird how everything attached to him suddenly sounds creepy, right?). I’m talking about grass-fed, pasture-grazing gelatin.
I first mentioned this gem in a smoothie recipe a couple months back and later on my Instagram post. I was looking for a protein powder that was void of additives and sweeteners and was having a really hard time finding one. Even the organic, non-GMO ones had a lot of added crap I couldn’t pronounce.
That’s when I discovered Great Lakes Gelatin. What is it exactly?
IN A NUTSHELL: It’s made of crushed up bones, fibrous tissues and organs of animals.
I know. It sounds a little scary. But it’s no different than having beef or chicken broth. Except for this stuff is much more versatile than that. You can introduce the crazy benefits of bone broth into your morning smoothie, your nighttime tea, or your afternoon Gummy Snacks (yeah, GUMMY snacks with benefits). You ready for this list?
- Skin Health
- Hair Health
- Nail Health
- Balanced Hormones
- Bone and Joint Health
- Digestion and Satiety
- Allergy Suppression
Now, I won’t do my usual and go into scientific detail of each of these benefits. But I can say – with absolute confidence – that I have seen and felt these benefits first-hand.
After about 3 months of adding gelatin to my morning smoothies, I’ve experienced the following…
MY GELATIN EXPERIENCE:
Skin. It’s clearer and plumper (that sounds weird, but you get what I mean). More importantly, my skin tends to hang on to scars for quite a while. Something to do with the melatonin in my skin, I’m told. Ever since I started eating gelatin, I’ve noticed those scars fading for a much brighter, more even complexion.
Hair. I have A LOT of course, dry and sometimes brittle hair. It’s a chore to take care of it. And I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the most moisturizing conditioners, oils and creams to maintain this mane. It honestly never occurred to me to work from the inside-out to improve it (DUH, Healthy Stacey). Since I’ve started eating gelatin, it’s growing faster and shining more. When I blow dry my hair, the amount of tiny broken hairs is almost non-existent. A BIG plus for me (and my poor boyfriend who has to share a bathroom with me).
Nails. I’ve never had too much trouble growing my nails. But with all of the cooking and dish-washing I do, I am always breaking them. Now? They’re tough as nails. Haha. That’s funny. But seriously, they are.
Hormones. This one’s tough for me to rate. I am by no means immune from mood swings, ugly days and crazy chocolate cravings before my period (when hormones are their most volatile). As a psych major, I am very cognizant, however, of the placebo effect. I kind of feel like my mood swings have decreased and I feel better about myself at that time of the month. But I’m honestly not sure if this is because I was expecting these results or because they actually happened. Hormones = complicated. I’m not messing with this one.
Bone and Joint Health. YES, YES, YES. This is probably my favorite feature of my new miracle food. You may remember from past posts, my workout involves a lot of lifting heavy things. I love it. It’s done mirarcles for my body. But man, the soreness I experience in the days after is ROUGH. I can say with 100% confidence that ever since I’ve started taking gelatin, the soreness is 90% gone. Just enough for me to know that I’m still getting a good workout, but not enough to disrupt my work day. My workouts, in turn, have improved because I’m not going into the gym with robot-stiff arms and legs. Cannot say enough about this stuff for fitness enthusiasts.
Digestion and Satiety. Ahhh digestion. One of my favorite topics. Anything that helps our digestion gets a BIG GOLD STAR in my book. And this does it. Not about to go into detail on this one because you get my point. But yeah. It works.
Allergy Suppression. Since Bone and Joint Health was my favorite benefit, this is my second favorite. I like to refer to my sinus allergies as Chinese Water Torture. They’re not big outbursts of irritation. More like small, annoying, irritating drips throughout my day. In the past, almost every morning, I would wake up with a sore throat and dry mouth. Then, it would fade out as the morning went on. And then come back around 2:00 at work and just linger there for the rest of the day. No amount of liquid would make it feel better. Allergies are the result of inflammation in the nose and throat. And gelatin helps deflate that inflammation. Ever since I started taking gelatin, my allergies are gone. Absolutely gone. No joke. Now, I have to do my due diligence here and admit that I have also started incorporating turmeric into my morning smoothies around the same time as I started taking gelatin. And since turmeric is also known for its anti-inflammatory powers, it’s quite likely that this has been a big help too. But together – they could be an allergy powerhouse. Either way, life is SO much better without my Chinese Water Torture sinus issues and I’m positive this is a result of improving my nutrition.
Phew. That was a lot. You see what I mean now by life-changing? I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without it. And how come nobody ever told me about this stuff? It’s such an under-the-radar health food. Am I right?
Okay, so you’re probably thinking, okay Crazy Stacey. I’ll try this crushed up animal bones thing if you really really think I should (I do). Now where do I get this miracle powder and when I do, how do I eat it? Great question guys.
WHERE TO GET IT:
I hesitated to try gelatin at first because it is not easily available. As in, you cannot go to the neighborhood grocery store (even Whole Foods!) and just pick up the kind of gelatin I am talking about. Sure. You could go to the baking aisle and easily find gelatin that is used to make Jello. But I beg you – do NOT incorporate this stuff into your daily diet. It’s not the same.
Where the gelatin comes from is just as important as getting it into your diet. Unfortunately, the only way I have found to get trustworthy gelatin from grass-fed, well-treated animals is by ordering it online.
This is the brand I use: Great Lakes Gelatin
Warning: their website is hideous, but it’s good stuff, promise.
But I’ve also heard great things about this one too: Vital Proteins
Much prettier, more user-friendly website; this is the new cool kid on the gelatin block, but I can’t speak to using it personally.
HOW TO USE IT:
There are two different forms of gelatin.
- Collagen Hydrolysate (Vital Proteins calls it Collagen Peptides)
- Gelatin (Vital Proteins calls it Collagen Protein)
Collagen Hydrolysate. This one is cold water soluble so you can put it in pretty much anything. A glass of water, a cup of juice, even a nice vodka pasta sauce if you wanted. But the way I like to use it is in smoothies. It’s absolutely perfect for a post workout smoothie so you can combat sore muscles and joints and have a great source of protein.
Great Lakes = Green Container
Vital Proteins = Blue Lid
For a delicious post-workout smoothie recipe, refer to this post for the orange monster smoothie or this post for the carrot ginger smoothie.
Gelatin. This one will gel (get clumpy) in cold liquids so it is best to use in hot beverages such as tea, coffee, soups or – my favorite – gummy bears! (if you have a bear mold, that is). See below for my recipe.
Great Lakes = Orange Container
Vital Proteins = Green Lid
BERRY CHERRY LEMON FRUIT SNACKS
- 1 cup of frozen blueberries (you can of course use fresh too)
- 1/3 cup of lemon juice
- 1/3 cup of cherry juice (I used this brand)
- 1-2 Tablespoons of honey (depending on your sweet tooth)
- 4 Tablespoons gelatin
- Put frozen berries in a blender with lemon juice, cherry juice and honey and blend.
- Pour vibrant concoction into a saucepan.
- Mix in gelatin powder.
- Turn the heat on medium and whisk away until the powder dissolves (it gets lumpy so just keep at it until you’ve gotten it as smooth as possible).
- Pour liquid into a glass dish and set in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut out into fun shapes (I used the small round cap on a bottle of olive oil).
DISCLAIMER: This goes without saying (I hope). But please consult your doctor before you go crazy and start eating gelatin by the spoonful. I am no doctor and I don’t know what health implications it could have for certain people.
I’d like to thank Christie Russert and Marta Wlodkowska for the breathtaking pictures in this post. I am so lucky to have such talented friends who love good food and pretty things just as much as I do. For more from Christie, please visit coffeeandcamera.tumblr.com.
COMMENT TIME! What do you guys think? Would you be willing to try it? I know a few of you have already contacted me about it. Have you tried it yet? What do you think? Any other crazy creative ways we could make stuff with this miracle powder? You know the drill, comment below…