What is gelatin, and how do you use it?
Gelatin (and collagen) are all the rage right now. How do you use them, and do you really need them?
While gelatin can have amazing culinary properties and beneficial health benefits, we don’t think most families *need* gelatin or collagen powders. However, we do like to have it on hand for homemade gummies or to throw it in popsicle and smoothie recipes for a boost of protein.
Gelatin is essentially an amino acid that comes from the collagen of animal connective tissue and bone. It is helpful when making gummies, jello and many other recipes since it dissolves in hot water and has a thick, gummy texture. Gelatin can also help promote joint, skin and gut health. Just one tablespoon has 11 grams of protein, so it’s a potent protein source for those who struggle to get enough of this essential macronutrient.
Collagen peptides are similar to gelatin in that they're made from amino acids from animal connective tissue, but they're cut into smaller peptide pieces and don't have the same gumming effect as gelatin. I like using collagen peptides for clients experiencing gut or skin issues or those who need more protein in their diet. I prefer Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides when recommending it to clients, but work with a healthcare provider if you're experiencing gut or skin issues.
Gelatin is relatively flavorless and dissolves only in hot water - in cold it’s a little clumpy. When we put it in smoothies, we keep quantities small and blend it well. Just don’t go nuts on the gelatin, friends - most toddlers only need 16-18 G protein daily (minimum).
Below is our favorite popsicle recipe using gelatin powder by Great Lakes Gelatin found on Amazon.
Blend in high speed blender and taste - if it’s not sweet enough depending on the fruit used, you may need a dash of sweetener like maple syrup or honey (no honey for babies under age 1). Pour into popsicle molds, freeze and enjoy! Makes at least 8-10 popsicles depending on mold size.
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!