So if you’re an avid paleo or AIP eater, it’s likely you’ve experienced the benefits of bone broth. What’s so special about bone broth? It’s chock-full of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium, in forms your body can easily absorb. It contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, compounds known to reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain. It’s rich in glycine and proline, two hard-to-find amino acids not found in significant amounts in muscle meats. Proline and glycine are important for a healthy gut and digestion, muscle repair and growth, a strong immune system, and a balanced nervous system. Finally, bone broth contains gelatin, which is produced from the breakdown of the collagen in the bones used to make the broth.
Gelatin is known for the following benefits:
- Helps tighten loose skin
- Helps joint recovery
- Supports skin, hair and nail growth
- Improves digestion
- Promotes relaxation and a good night’s sleep
- Helps heal inflamed gut lining
- Helps rebuild muscle
I’ll take it! But wait – isn’t this post about gummies? Yep! Out on the trail during multi-day trips, fresh bone broth simply isn’t an option. How do we get our gelatin goodness? Gummies!
Gummies are made primarily from gelatin. Gut-soothing, joint-healing, muscle-rebuilding, inflammation-calming gelatin. Best part: They’re fun food! The first time I made gummies, I ran down the hallway to show my housemate how jiggly they were. I still do it for fun.
Are home-made gummies like the ones you buy in the store? Oh, please, no. The store-bought gummies are full of added sugar, preservatives, food coloring and other unmentionable junk that isn’t worthy of your body. Home-made gummies are more like jello-meets-crossfit-in-a-Matrix-overcoat. Full of seriously good-for-you ingredients, fresh, and tasty, these little treats pack some powerful cha-cha to add to your food bag. And you can make them in lots of tasty flavors.
With our mind on the trail, let’s take another look at that list of gelatin benefits:
- Helps tighten loose skin… who doesn’t have a few crows feet from time in the sunshine?
- Helps joint recovery… check. I could use that after a long hike!
- Supports skin, hair and nail growth… works for me!
- Improves digestion… always a good plan.
- Promotes relaxation and a good night’s sleep… to recharge for tomorrow!
- Helps heal inflamed gut lining… always on my list!
- Helps rebuild muscle… may I have some more, please?
Are you running out right now to buy gelatin? Good.
Keeping it Cool on the Trail…
One thing to remember… you gotta keep gummies cool! The first time I brought gummies outside, it was a really hot day. I was out climbing with some friends, one of whom is a professional chef. When I described the benefits of gummies to her, she was psyched to see them. I’d forgotten I had them in my pack all day, so I broke the container out at the car. I opened the lid, and – Ta Da! – I had a container full of semi-liquid, lemon-flavored, tart gummy goodness. I drank it right on the spot.
My advice: Eat your gummies early in the hike, take them on a day that’s cool, or bury them somewhere deep in your pack to keep them cool. They will keep overnight in cool temps, and given that they’re just gelatin, water, and some fruit, they have little that might spoil quickly (use your judgement).
Note: The amino acids in gelatin are not all the proteins your body needs. Though it might sound nice to live off a diet of mango-flavored gummy bears, you need a wider variety than what gelatin can provide. Consider it supplemental to your other protein sources.
My recommendation (and that of anyone who makes their own on a regular basis) is to use gelatin from grass-fed cows. The benefit of grass-fed meat is mainly in the omega content of the meat, but why use gelatin from unhappy, barn-kept, poorly fed critters? You are what you eat. My favorite brand for grass-fed gelatin is Great Lakes. They have two versions of beef gelatin (and one porcine version, which is from “Humanely Raised” pigs, which isn’t necessarily pastured).
The Red Can
Use this one for gummy snacks, and other semi-solid treats you make at home such as pudding, cakes, etc. Dissolve in a bit of hot water first, then mix into the recipe. It will gel everything pretty quickly. Note: the porcine gelatin comes in an orange can which looks similar to the red can online. Read your labels!
The Green Can
This type will not gel liquids, so it is great for smoothies, tea, or brought dry in your pack to add to drinks while on the trail. It’s tasteless and powdered. Great for after-exercise muscle recovery!
How Much to Eat?
A commonly recommended dose for gelatin is 1 – 2 tablespoons per day. If you have never eaten gelatin, start out small – try a half teaspoon one day, and see how your gut responds. Build slowly from there. For some people, it takes a little while to work up to a full tablespoon a day. Go slowly. When I make the recipes below, I divide them into either two or four servings, to make sure I don’t over-do it. It’s easy to just keep munching these tasty little units!
Below are two of my favorite recipe for gummies. The sour lemon gummies will make you pucker like a thirsty fish. The strawberry lemon gummies are still sour, but not as much. You can substitute any fruit you want, and if the lemon is too tart, just sub in some water instead. Gummy recipes accept variations nicely. Store them in the fridge, and make sure they stay cool on the trail. And remember, if you can’t bring gummies, take along a baggie of the Collagen Hydrolysate for longer trips. A tablespoon or two a day in a hot or cold drink can really help with inflammation and recovery on and after the trail!
Sour Lemon Gummies
¾ cup lemon juice
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup water (optional)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs maple syrup (or more, to taste)
4 to 6 Tbs gelatin (4 will produce jiggly gummies, 6 will produce very firm gummies)
Combine lemon juice, lime juice, water, zest, and maple syrup in a sauce pan and heat to medium temperature, just steaming. Do not boil. Take about 3 Tbs of the warm liquid out, place in a bowl large enough for all the ingredients, and whisk the gelatin in quickly until dissolved. Immediately whisk in the remaining liquid, and pour into either a glass pie plate or your choice of silicone ice cube/gummy molds. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour before serving. If you use a pie tin, the gummies will slice easily with a butter knife after chilling. Store in fridge.
Strawberry Lemon Gummies
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, or berries of choice
1 Tbs maple syrup (or more, to taste)
4 to 6 Tbs gelatin (4 will produce jiggly gummies, 6 will produce firmer gummies. These tend to be less firm than lemon gummies; the texture of the berries comes through a bit.)
Add all ingredients, except gelatin, to a blender, and mix till liquid. Place liquid in a sauce pan, and heat to medium temperature, just steaming. Do not boil. Take about 3 Tbs of the warm liquid out, place in a bowl large enough for all the ingredients, and whisk the gelatin in quickly until dissolved. Immediately whisk in the remaining liquid, and pour into either a glass pie plate or your choice of silicone ice cube/gummy molds. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour before serving. If you use a pie tin, the gummies will slice easily with a butter knife after chilling. Store in fridge.