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Who doesn’t love Jell-O, right?! Those wiggly cubes that are called dessert for some or “salads” for others. For those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, Jell-O was a part of our family gatherings. Most of us may still keep it around because we think our kids will like it. I have tried serving it to mine, but they just don’t seem to get it. “What is it?”, they ask innocently.

I NEVER, in a million years, would have thought that I’d be going through large containers of gelatin powders in my lifetime! But now that I’m relearning about food and the roles they can play in our health, my perspective on Jell-O has changed. No, I don’t buy Jello-O, but I do have gelatin and collagen powders on hand that we incorporate into our diet. I just never would have thought it would become my new protein powder.

One of the big losses in our family was that of protein powders. My husband and I regularly enjoyed supplementing our diet with protein powders that could be added to smoothies or homemade shakes. But now that we have adapted our eating, finding one that fits has been difficult, to say the least.

The first step in our protein powder journey was when we took dairy out of our diet. The whey proteins had to go. At the time, whey protein powders were all I knew about, but little did I know there were alternatives. So, the search began.

Then we found pea protein. I was in heaven! I couldn’t believe it existed! We had been using pea milk for the first year we were dairy-free, and from what we had seen and heard, pea protein was the latest thing in the dairy-free world. But when we still had issues with Garrett’s acid reflux, even when all the food intolerances were removed, we adapted to the Paleo diet. There is simply no room in the Paleo diet for pea protein.

I was at a complete loss! One by one, all protein powders had been kicked to the curb.

Until this spring, when the dots started connecting. Gelatin is a protein powder?! Bone broth (containing collagen) is a source of protein?

Now, if you don’t know, gelatin and collagen are similar, but not quite the same thing. Gelatin actually is what gives Jell-O its jiggle. It starts as a powder, dissolves when added to warm water, and congeals when cooled. Collagen, however, dissolves in room temperature water. Gelatin and collagen have very similar nutritional properties, but collagen is a bit more versatile because it remains a liquid once dissolved.

I don’t use gelatin quite like I would have used a whey or pea protein powder, but I do use it. I use it as an egg replacer in some baked goods, and I have actually gotten my kids to eat homemade “Jell-O” from 100% fruit juice and gelatin powder. And when I do use it, I feel great giving them a “protein powder” for dessert.

Then what do I put in my smoothies and shakes now? I use collagen as my protein powder for an extra boost instead of all the others I had used before. I love it because it dissolves super easily. I add the powder directly into my smoothie blender or add it to my morning tea (or AIP coffee). I have even added it to soups or porridge cereals for my family.

So, who knew all these years that Jell-O was good for us—sort of? If your kids love Jell-O or you feel the nudge to make a Jell-O “salad”, think about making your own flavored gelatin and skip on the added sweeteners found in actual Jell-O. Or better yet, grab the collagen and make your own protein shakes! Make it a green one!

Green Protein Smoothie
2–3 handfuls of spinach
1 banana
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup pineapple or mango
6–8 oz. coconut water
2 scoops collagen powder