When I eat, I want carbs. Especially when I just want a snack or I’m in a hurry. Carbs are delicious, are the easiest things to eat, and are the easiest things to find to eat. I struggle to get enough protein on a daily basis because protein is high-maintenance and usually just too dense for my tastes – since I have EOE (a throat allergy disorder that narrows my throat over time), traditional proteins are often literally difficult to swallow. I’ve tried many strategies, but usually fake carbs-that-are-actually-protein (like those peanut butter cups they always fool me into buying at Costco) have an aftertaste of death and regret. And protein drinks are, let’s face it – just not enjoyable.
So when I came across the concept of making my own collagen protein gummies, I was intrigued. A protein that looks like a carb and chews like a carb? And furthermore, that is homemade out of actual high quality animal protein – not some weird chemical being marketed by Costco? That could be my ticket to balanced nutrition.
I’m always willing to try new things, such as milling my own wheat for bread, kombucha, and red light therapy – all of which I still do regularly, but protein gummies are my easiest and cheapest experiment yet.
However, like kombucha, I had to get over the weirdness of the main ingredient. A few months ago, I caved and ordered it – powdered bovine gelatin – (yes you heard me right) – and began my protein journey. I have eaten them every day since and….I AM IN LOVE WITH THEM.
They are easy to make, contain 3 total ingredients – 100% bovine gelatin, honey, and 100% fruit juice – are not overly sweet, and are finally giving my body the protein it needs.
When I first started researching this concept, I was a little disgusted at the idea of bovine gelatin, which is Type I and III collagen derived from cow skin and bone marrow. But the more I researched, the more I learned. All gelatin is an animal product – who knew that JELL-O was an animal product? I did not.
But high quality gelatin is a surprisingly cool product: It’s collagen, so it’s good for my aging skin and hair, it supports joint health which my runner’s body needs desperately, and it helps calm inflammation in the body – another thing I constantly struggle with. Nutrition-wise, it is all protein with zero fat. It has all but one essential amino acid, and extraordinarily low calories. So basically, all the things that I need that I’m not getting enough of.
After researching a good bit, I bought my gelatin from Perfect Supplements. Their products are high quality, hormone and pesticide free, carefully sourced, and surprisingly inexpensive when I started combining bulk savings and coupons.
(After I bought a few rounds of products from them and decided that I was going to blog about my gummies, I signed up to be an affiliate and requested a coupon that I could share with you guys – the coupon code OBJECTIVITY gets you 10% off. Combining the coupon with buying multiple products and getting their 20-25% volume discount will make your gummies pretty cheap, should you desire to try them.)
So. I toyed with their recipe a bit to get mine the way I wanted them – they’re a little firmer than the consistency of JELL-O Jigglers. And after I made them, I used my love of an excel spreadsheet to figure their nutritional value and the cost. A double recipe makes 100-120 gummies. And each gummy, approximately 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 1″, has:
1 g protein
1.5 g carbs
As for the cost, counting in the honey, juice, and gelatin, a double batch of 120 gummies costs about $7.50 to make.
I typically eat about 20 of them a day, which is pretty filling since they’re pretty large, but is only 200 calories while getting in 20 grams of protein. I have my gummy snack in the afternoon, and they keep me from getting into that afternoon slump.
I definitely feel more full, can tell a difference in my skin and hair, and I also lost 6 pounds in the 2 months immediately after starting my gummy routine – it could have been coincidence, but I tried and couldn’t think of anything else that changed in my lifestyle. My theory is that since I run and hike multiple times a week, and I haven’t gotten enough protein in the past, perhaps that was just my body thankful for finally getting the protein it needed to burn during my exercise.
My Protein Gummy recipe is as follows:
2 c. 100% fruit juice (NO CITRUS – it messes with the gelatin)
3 tbsp. honey
4 1/2 scoops of bovine gelatin
Put the fruit juice and honey in a wide frying pan and sprinkle the bovine gelatin on top and leave it for a few minutes to let it bloom. This is a fun part of the process that makes the juice look like brains.
When all of the gelatin is soaked up, turn on the stove to medium and warm it up until all of the gelatin is dissolved, but not for so long that it boils. This takes only a couple of minutes.
Pour it into a glass 9×9 pan (or a 9×13 pan if you want to do triple layer, or want thinner gummies) and put in the refrigerator for 3 hours or the freezer for an hour.
Layer 2: repeat all of the steps from layer 1, except change your fruit juice to something else – preferably a notably different color to make them pretty. Pour on top of your first layer and refrigerate again.
After they chill and fully harden, cut them into squares and pull them out of the pan. This part is especially satisfying.
Keep them refrigerated.
Of course you can just do one layer, or one juice, but this recipe is so quick and easy that it’s fun to add color and intrigue, and to mix flavors.
So far, my favorites are peach mango / dragonfruit (the dragonfruit juice from Costco is great, and the peach mango juice is V8) and pear / dragonfruit. I’ve also experimented with three layers – this one is peach mango / tart cherry / dragonfruit.
I tried a Peaches and Cream version, where I used peach/mango for the bottom, and ice cream and half and half for the top.
It was pretty good! They taste a bit more like a treat. But for daily consumption, I prefer the pure fruit.
The flavor can be pretty mild, so I have also experimented with adding 1/4 tsp. of Vanilla into the gummies – this really fleshes out the flavor. Tarter juices do have more flavor – tart cherry being the most flavor I’ve tried yet.
I also bought some hexagon ice cube trays and tried making fancy ones.
They were indeed fancy – but pulling them out of the ice trays was much more high maintenance and not nearly as satisfying as cutting them myself.
This recipe takes no time at all and I love that they don’t taste sweet – they’re just a mild little snack that fills me with protein.
Since I’m all about a discount, I’ve tried several other Perfect Supplements products to get the multi-product discount, and have reordered all of them because I have loved them. The lip balm is the first lip balm I’ve ever used that actually seems to de-chap my lips over time and not just make them feel better in the moment, and I love the recipe that they have for acai bowls using their acai powder – but I made a few changes of my own to make it less healthy and more delicious. This is another protein snack I’ve enjoyed if I want something closer to a meal:
Acai Protein Bowl (Rachel’s Version)
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. Acai powder
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c coconut oil (I ordered theirs – it’s nice)
4 tsp. cocoa powder
4 scoops hydrolyzed collagen (this is totally optional to add more protein – I ordered theirs, so I use it)
A couple spoonfuls of Cool Whip until I get it to just barely sweet
Mix all of these ingredients together, then top it with a little more peanut butter, a little more cool whip on top of that, and then some granola. The above recipe makes about 6 servings worth of the acai base, and it’s better after its refrigerated, so mixing up a batch of this keeps me with a ready acai bowl meal for a few weeks.
Chris the Skeptical Husband never jumped fully on board for my kombucha phase, but he has tried my gummies and is determined to make them a part of his life this year, hoping to replace his late night tortilla chip raids with a pile of protein gummies. He promises to write his own commentary on his protein journey after giving them a good try. He has not, however, tried or shown any interest in my acai bowl. Yet.