I’ve tried every which way to get my picky eaters to munch on veggie sticks or nibble flax crackers for a mid-day snack. No can do.
They want the packaged treats full of bright colors and galactic flavors. Since I try to steer clear of sugar-loaded goodies, offering them healthy-yet-kid-friendly snacks has always been a challenge. A touch of natural sugar, no preservatives or artificial flavors – is that too much to ask?
I recently came across a recipe for homemade gummy bears, and that set my wheels in motion. A little research for the best ingredients had me making a bee-line to the natural grocery store for grass-fed gelatin, stevia, and organic fruit juice. I gathered my ingredients, dug out my bear-shaped silicone molds, and got to work. Before I knew it, I had a whole bowl of healthy, snack-worthy Paleo gummy bears. To my surprise, they got a solid thumbs-up from my hard-to-please taste testers. Protein, all natural colors and flavors, and naturally sweetened? They’ll definitely be on snack rotation at our house from now on!
I can hear you ask, wouldn’t have been easier to go out and buy a bag of store-bought gummies? Yes, but since their first ingredient is corn syrup, and I’m trying to avoid highly processed, refined sugar that causes blood sugar to skyrocket, store-bought is out. A little further down the ingredient list comes artificial flavors, wax, and artificial coloring. Those are on my no-no list, too, as my goal is to use whole, clean ingredients to feed my family. My homemade recipe allows me to control the ingredients, and I can adjust the amount of natural sugar that goes in.
Now it’s your turn to whip up a batch of cute little Paleo gummies. Vegans and vegetarians, note that gelatin contains animal byproducts.
After you’re done, stick around to find out why these gummies are so much healthier. After that, I have some additional gelatin-based recipes for you.
Naturally Sweetened Homemade Gummy Bears
Yield: 1 batch gummy bears (approx. 50 gummy bears)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: about 1 hour
1 cup organic fruit juice
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 packets (3 tbsp.) unflavored gelatin
6-8 drops stevia
Coconut oil nonstick
Spray a silicone candy mold with nonstick coconut oil spray. Gently dab excess oil from mold with a paper towel.
In a small pot, heat fruit juice to boiling. As soon as juice begins to boil, remove from heat and cool for 3-4 minutes. Whisk in lemon juice and slowly add gelatin, whisking well until all incorporated. Flavor with stevia to preferred sweetness.
Working quickly, use a dropper to fill mold with juice. Place in fridge until firm. Unmold gummies once set (this usually takes about an hour).
Need a silicone mold that works perfectly for homemade gummies?
We used these darling gummy bear molds, but any silicone mold with a kid-appealing shape like hearts or stars will do. Aside from the silicone mold and recipe ingredients, you’ll also need coconut oil spray and mini droppers for easily transferring the liquid into the mold.
I used blueberry, mango and strawberry fruit juice in this recipe, but any liquid will do. Pomegranate juice, grape juice and apple juice also produce amazing results. Try fresh-pressed juice, bottled “smoothies,” or green juice.
So, what makes these cute little bears so healthy?
We’ll start with gelatin, since it’s what makes these homemade gummies all Jello-like.
For me, gelatin brings up memories of church potlucks, where all the kids marveled in disbelief at the gelatin ring with shrimp suspended in it. It’s safe to say this was the only untouched dish at the potluck. I didn’t give much thought to gelatin other than the occasional bowl of Jello when I was sick. That all changed, though, after doing some research about its nutritional benefits.
Gelatin is derived from collagen, a protein found in the skin, bones, and cartilage of animals, and contains many important amino acids, including glycine. Glycine has been linked with improved memory and focused attention. As a supplement, gelatin is used for hair and nail growth, and is promoted for keeping skin healthy and dewy, as well as for easing joint pain. Gelatin’s anti-inflammatory effects can also tame inflammation of the gut, so for those of us with tummy troubles, it’s worth considering.
I look for grass-fed gelatin, since it’s free from preservatives, hormones and antibiotics. Grass-fed beef contains more than twice the omega-3 fatty acids (which are beneficial) than standard commercially-raised beef. I love that my kids are getting a healthy dose of fatty acids while munching on a tasty snack!
Now, let’s dive into the sweetener used in this recipe. If you aren’t familiar with stevia, it’s an herb from South America that’s used as a natural sugar substitute (in powder or liquid form). Stevia has zero calories and minimal effect on blood sugar. It’s ideal for someone like me—a health-conscious mom looking for a way to sweeten snacks without causing my kids to go into sugar overdrive. It’s FDA approved and is considered a safe alternative to sugar. Since it’s super sweet, a little goes a long way!
If stevia’s not your thing, you can swap it out for 3 tablespoons of honey, agave or brown rice syrup.
With all of gelatin’s health benefits, I’m convinced you’ll want to use it more often, especially in snacks like my homemade gummy treats. From gummies to marshmallows, your kids won’t mind a daily dose of gelatin in their snack food! Here are some other recipes to try:
Energy Greens Supergreens Gummies
Infuse your gummies with green goodness. Try these homemade Super Green Gummies made with green juice, green powder, a squeeze of citrus, and grass-fed gelatin. They may be green, but they’re incredibly yummy!
Bulletproof Coffee Gummies
Made with decaf coffee, you won’t need to worry about a caffeine buzz after munching on these Bulletproof Coffee Gummies. These java-infused snacks are chock full of healthy fats to keep you feeling full for hours. This would be a perfect snack to stash in my purse!
Homemade Snickerdoodle Marshmallows
Homemade Snickerdoodle Marshmallows are surprisingly simple to make. Perfect in hot cocoa, eaten on their own like candy, or plopped in a cup of hot cocoa. Delish!
Girl Scout Copycat S’mores
Enjoy s’mores with homemade honey-kissed marshmallows and good-quality dark chocolate. Swap out your regular for this healthier Girl Scout Copycat S’mores version. Don’t worry – they taste just as amazing as the original!
Bite into these deliciously sinful Paleo Snowballs to get to the creamy center. This Paleo Snowball recipe goes double duty, using gelatin in both the creamy center and on the marshmallow topping. They’re dairy-free, grain-free, and get a touch of sweetness from natural sugar.
Need a silicone mold that works perfectly for homemade gummies? We used these darling gummy bear molds, but any silicone mold with a kid-appealing shape like hearts or stars will do. Aside from the silicone mold and recipe ingredients, you’ll also need coconut oil spray and mini droppers for easily transferring the liquid into the mold.
I used blueberry, mango and strawberry fruit juice in this recipe, but any liquid will do. Pomegranate juice, grape juice and apple juice also produce amazing results. Try fresh-pressed juice, bottled “smoothies” or green juice…you can even swap in some red or white wine for a grownup treat!