Gelatine – an old favourite back in favour
A hundred years ago, Mrs. Beeton was providing the nation with recipes for sweet and savoury jellies, blancmanges, junkets and other such delights. Such dishes had been popular since the middle ages, and have only really fallen out of favour in the last few decades.
And now they’re back, hailed with a new level of respect. It turns out that a frequent key ingredient, gelatine, has some phenomenal health benefits. These range from healing leaky gut to nourishing the joints and boosting your immune system.
Unfortunately for the vegetarians and vegans out there, gelatine is made from boiling up bones. This is why bone broths have been so on trend. The gelatine released from boiling up bones over several hours contains the primary amino acids we use to make collagen. Not only is collagen your main ingredient for making healthy skin, bones, joints and other tissues, but its amino acids have impressive anti-inflammatory and pro-immune effects. No wonder bone broths have been so prized for so many hundreds of years all over the world.
Bone broth is a fantastic drink when convalescing, or wanting to improve the state of the gut. Improving digestive health helps you absorb more nutrients, and also impacts your nervous system, hormonal balance, levels of inflammation throughout your body and even your moods, concentration and behaviour.
Bone broth makes a great base for soups, casseroles and sauces. It’s incredibly versatile. But sometimes, you want something a little sweeter to take your medicine with.
Jelly sweet and dessert recipes
Remember those jelly sweets in your penny sweet bag as a kid? Jelly snakes, bears and babies, milk gums and wine gums? Jelly and ice cream at birthday parties, and blancmange-filled trifle at Christmas? Did you ever once think that the gelatine in such treats was doing you good?
Well, in the name of ultimate health and happiness, I have been seeking out, experimenting with and refining the best recipes I can find. Here are my favourites:
Golden Milk Gummis
This is truly a tonic for the colon and immune system, combining the anti-inflammatory, gut-healing and immune-boosting effects of gelatine and turmeric rich Golden Milk. They’re gentle, subtly spiced and reminiscent of Indian delights.
The black pepper is there to help you absorb the anti-cancer curcuminoids in the turmeric. The turmeric and saffron provide a soft yellow hue that the Chinese understand to nourish the stomach and digestion. Yellow relates to the Earth element, to nourishment and self-care.
You can add a little honey if you wish. A visiting friend and I preferred their delicateness without honey; our partners both wanted extra sweetness.
1 pint plant-based milk (e.g. almond milk, rice milk etc.)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2-3 cardamom pods (scrape out the inside, grind in a pestle and mortar, discard the rest)
a few twists of freshly ground black pepper
a couple of threads of saffron if you have them
1.5 tbsp pasture fed gelatine powder
Gently simmer all ingredients except the gelatine powder for 10-15 minutes.
Vigorously whisk in the gelatine.
Pour into sweet moulds, or an ice cube tray, or into a small tray, and chill for a few hours till set. (If you ‘ve used a small tray, then you can slice it into squares).
Marigold flowers are also a beautiful golden yellow. Their other name is calendula, and you may have come across calendula creams for rashes, sores and ulcers. It’s also used for gastritis and other inflammatory conditions. I’ve twinned marigold tea here with berries not just for the flavour, but also for the antioxidant benefits of the phytonutrients that give them such a vibrant hue. Again, if you have a sweeter tooth than me, you can add a little extra raw honey.
1tbsp dried marigold flowers
75g frozen berries
1-2tbsp raw honey
1.5tbsp pasture-fed gelatine powder
Boil half a pint (1/4 litre) of water, leave for a minute or 2, then pour onto marigold flowers in a jug.
Leave to steep for 10-15 mins, then strain.
Whisk in the gelatine until fully dissolved.
Blend with the frozen berries and honey
Pour into moulds or a tray as above and chill till set.
Vanilla Ice Dream
Dairy-free ice creams are usually more icy than creamy. That iciness also interferes with flavour. It’s a challenge that gelatine can help with. Although not always completely, so I prefer to freeze mine to a stage where it has set, gone icy cold and just started to freeze around the edges. Think of it as a dreamily delicious ice cold mousse.
1 can coconut milk
1tbsp vanilla essence
1-2tbsp raw honey to taste
1/2tbsp pasture-fed gelatine powder
Gently heat the coconut milk with the vanilla essence in a pan (but don’t bring to boil).
Whisk the egg, whisk in a little of the warm coconut milk, then pour that mixture back into the rest of the coconut milk.
Whisk in the gelatine until smooth, then stir in the honey.
Pour into a container, leave to cool, then freeze for approx. 4 hours before serving (see above)
Cocoa Reishi Mousse
Reishi mushrooms are also phenomenal immune-boosters. They are one of the many medicinal mushrooms that have been well studied, and shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and brain/nerve cell protective effects. Reishi mushrooms have also been demonstrated to regenerate the liver and lower high blood pressure.
What’s more, reishi mushroom powder complements chocolate perfectly. For this recipe you can either use good quality cocoa powder or raw cacao powder – if using raw cacao, you may need additional sweetener.
Ingredients and method:
The recipe is identical to the Vanilla Ice Dream recipe above, but at the stage where you stir in the honey, also whisk in 4-8tbsp chocolate/cacao powder (depending on how strong you like it) plus 1-2tsp reishi powder. Then refrigerate till set and serve.
Lemon posset with blueberry cream
This is a lighter, fresher, zingier choice for a more sophisticated occasion. With all the same anti-inflammatory and tissue protective health benefits.
For the lemon posset:
250ml coconut cream (use the thick cream from a can of coconut milk, or you can buy cartons of coconut cream in some supermarkets)
zest and juice of 1-2 lemons
2tbsp raw honey
pinch black pepper
1tsp pasture-fed gelatine powder
For the blueberry cream:
75-100ml coconut cream
raw honey to taste
Warm all the ingredients in a pan until almost boiling, then whisk in the gelatine until smooth.
Pour into 4 individual glasses or ramekins and chill till set.
Finely chop blueberries and stir into the coconut cream, together with the honey.
Pour a layer onto each lemon posset, and refrigerate for another 1/2-1 hour before serving.