Category: Holidays

All-Natural Gummy Candy (Refined-Sugar Free)

All-Natural Gummy Candy (Refined-Sugar Free)

Front view of all-natural gummies: worms, bears, and mustachesJust in time for Easter, here’s a recipe for natural candy you can feel good about feeding your kids. Traditional recipes based on the Haribo-style gummy bears are laden with corn syrup and use Jell-O, in its artificial glory, as the base. With just a couple modifications, however, you can create all-natural gummy candy that tastes and looks as good as the real thing and contains health-promoting ingredients.

Plain, unflavored gelatin is protein‚Äźrich, not only giving you healthy hair, nails and skin, but also helping to heal digestive disorders and increase your metabolism. Be sure to get the kind that comes from grass¬≠fed cattle, which is available at most health-¬≠food stores. Great Lakes is the brand I use. While you‚Äôre at the store, pick up some expeller-¬≠pressed juice or organic citrus to squeeze yourself. Local honey is what makes these babies refined sugar-free, plus you get the bonus of all those vitamins, enzymes, and phytonutrients that make honey so nutritious!

Plan Ahead

It’s easier said than done to find gummy bear molds. If you¬†want to make these this week, you best get to ordering your molds now. Thank god for Prime 2-day shipping!

Since our base is unflavored gelatin, I highly recommend ordering some all-¬≠natural flavor extracts, like this one from LorAnn. I chose the pomegranate, orange and lemon flavors. I truly don’t think this ingredient is optional if you want your natural gummies to taste really awesome. My experiments with leaving out the extract and subbing citrus zest instead left no room for doubt. Hands down, the gummies with the drops of extract added to the recipe were far superior. Plus the zest made the gummies slightly bitter, which might not be ideal for a child’s palette.

Citric acid powder, the ingredient that gives candy that coveted Sour Patch tang, contributes a depth of flavor (sweet and tart, as opposed to just sweet). While the gummies can be made without this ingredient, I highly recommend you include it.

One last ingredient, also non-essential, is non‚Äźtoxic, veggie-¬≠based food coloring. Leaving it out won’t affect flavor, the colors will simply be more muted and look less like their store-bought counterparts. The pomegranate mustaches in my images, for example, are rich in color without the need for any additional coloring.

Close up of all-natural gummy candy

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All-Natural Gummy Candy (Refined-Sugar Free)

All natural gummy bears and gummy mustaches stand at attention

This all-natural, sugar-free candy is such a treat because of how close it comes to the real thing. And it really¬†does get “gummy bear texture” after a couple of days…if you can possibly wait that long!

  • Author: Jennie
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Candy
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Ingredients

For each flavor, you will need:

3 packets (approx. 2.5 tbsp) grass-fed gelatin
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp cold, cold-pressed or fresh-squeezed fruit juice
2 tbsp local honey
All-natural cooking spray
All‚Äźnatural confectioner’s flavorings
¬ľ-¬≠¬Ĺ tsp citric acid (see note)

Candy molds

Optional:
All-­natural food coloring

Instructions

1. Whisk juice, honey, and gelatin until there are no lumps. Heat on low, stirring constantly, until everything is melted, about 3 minutes. Do not boil.
2. Add 1/4 tsp citric acid, approximately 4 drops flavoring, and optional food coloring, Stir to combine. Spray candy molds with natural cooking spray. Slowly pour gelatin mixture into molds.
3. Freeze for 20 minutes.
4. Unmold gummies. At this point they can be eaten, or for that characteristic gummy bear chew, stand gummies upright for 2 days. If you’re insanely patient, you can lay them flat for another day. The longer they air dry the chewier they will be.
5. Because of the organic ingredients,¬†you’ll want to store these in the¬†fridge after they dry out for up to two weeks. Toss with a pinch of cornstarch if they start to get sticky.

Notes

Pomegranate and lemon juice are inherently more sour than orange juice. For that reason, I increased the amount of citric acid from 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp in the orange batch.

 

Do you have a favorite Easter candy that you’d love to see made over into a healthy version? Respond in the comments and I’ll add it to my To Do list of culinary wizardry.

For a cocktail you can make with local honey that may or may not have superpowers, check out Honey in Your Cocktail May Prevent a Hangover.

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through my link. This helps to keep this blog free. All of the products I mention are from companies I know and trust.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cranberry-Pecan Compote (Gluten- and Refined Sugar-Free)

Pumpkin Pancakes Cranberry-Pecan CompoteAs a person with food allergies, sometimes I’ll get lucky while traveling and find gluten-free options in places you would never expect. Recently I attended a wedding in Neverwhere, Ohio, and was delighted that the first breakfast in our historic hotel the big city–Lancaster, that is–had gluten-free bread on offer.

I can order a breakfast sandwich?! That is something that never, ever happens. I have forgone breakfast sandwiches for over three years now, so I was understandably delighted.

The irony, however, was that there was something else on the menu that I wanted way way more than a breakfast sandwich. Something that was decidedly NOT gluten free. Something that the women I was traveling with (my mom and her best friend) could not stop raving about: pumpkin pancakes with cranberry-pecan compote. Oh my YUM.

If You Love Me, Lie to Me

Allow me to digress for a moment…I once dated this guy–let’s call him *Frank*–for far longer than was sane or reasonable considering what a poor match we made.

But he did this thing that was so irresistibly charming whenever he ate something I wasn’t allowed to have, it just might have been the glue that kept us together. He would bite into said¬†glutenous item and wrinkle his nose, before describing in detail how disappointing¬†the meal was. Then he’d take another bite and shake his head no, as if to illustrate¬†how lucky I was not to be subjected to such torture.

I found the game delightful. One time, he was eating¬†a bean and cheese burrito–one of my most-missed comfort foods which sadly seem to be gone from my repertoire in the absence of GF tortillas that actually resemble tortillas. He made a face of utter disgust and proclaimed that his¬†burrito was just “too beany.”

I’m fairly certain that this action alone made me love him.

Too Damned Honest

*Frank’s* behavior stands in stark contrast to what my family does. Now, to be fair, we are a family who loves food. We are perhaps more¬†likely to tell you what we ate on our European vacation than which museums we visited or what friends we made. But still, it’s hard when my mom eats a warm croissant so delicate that I can hear¬†the crunch of 100 perfect layers as it reverberates in the part of my chest that acutely feels “lack.” I watch in slow motion as¬†parchment-like crumbs drift gently onto the tablecloth like tantalizing¬†golden snowflakes. Then she TELLS me how good it is. As if I’m not already dying a little inside.

Sigh…This particular memory ends with my mom actually rubbing the pastry¬†on her face in an amorous gesture meant to make her¬†more at one with the croissant. I might be embellishing, but who can tell anymore? All I know is that she didn’t¬†lie to me.

Is that so much to ask?

Same Sh*t, Different Day

And that’s how it began with the pumpkin pancakes. It went something like this:

Me: (getting into the car after an entire day of flying and not eating due to a lack of G-Free options). Hi moms. How’s it going?

Moms: Hi girls. You are gonna love our hotel. It has GREAT breakfasts. Today we had the pumpkin pancakes. They come with a cranberry-pecan compote that is to die for. Oh my word…

Me: Sounds incredible. I’m starving. No chance they’re gluten-free (she asks hopefully)?

Moms: No…But they were goooooooooood. Mmmmm mmmmm! Really fluffy!! So full of pumpkin spice. I’ve never had cranberry compote on pancakes before, have you Lynda? No? No, me neither. Definitely not to be missed.

Me: Ok well I’m sure they have other good things on the menu.

Moms: Oh I’m sure, but these pancakes were reaaaaaaallly something. I’m thinking they’d be great for Christmas breakfast, don’t you think so Lynda? Just marvelous, really…

Aargh.

Suffice to say, I dreamt about pumpkin pancakes that night.

My Loss=Your Gain

The silver lining to this story, my friends, is that I came home on a mission.

A delicious mission.

And hopefully you will reap the benefits of it as much as I’m getting to. We start with a crazy healthy pancake recipe–one of the pumpkin-iest pumpkin recipes I’ve made. These babies actually qualify as paleo and are only mildly sweet, so they pair perfectly with your choice of¬†toppings. One point that is particularly noteworthy: flax seed and meal is very delicate and will only stay fresh if you keep it frozen. Your best bet is to¬†buy a small quantity of flax seeds in the bulk bin at your local health food store and grind them yourself. I make all the pancakes at once and then freeze them in a single layer. Then take them straight from freezer to toaster for quick weekday breakfasts.

The cranberry compote is super simple to make, and is bright and tangy with the flavors of orange and pumpkin pie spice. Of course you can serve this as a condiment for poultry or¬†pork, spread it on toast, stir it into oatmeal or spoon it over vanilla ice cream. I make it a day ahead to cut down on prep time and thin a little bit with OJ or water when I’m ready to serve. Toast the pecans and add them at the end¬†so they’re perfectly crunchy.

Pumpkin Pancakes (Gluten-free, Refined-sugar free, Paleo)
  • 1¬†cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 T flax meal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 can pure pumpkin
  • 6 eggs, whisked
  • 2 T¬†coconut oil, plus more for cooking
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (use extract for paleo)
  1. Whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. In another small bowl, whisk wet ingredients.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until combined.
  4. Heat griddle over medium heat.
  5. When beads of water dance on the griddle’s surface, it is ready, Pour approximately 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle at a time and use the back of a spoon to spread it into a circle.
  6. When small bubbles form on the surface, flip pancakes and cook for another 2 minutes.

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Cranberry-Pecan Compote (Refined sugar-free)
  • 1¬†bag fresh cranberries
  • 3¬†oranges, zest and juice
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T coconut sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp homemade pumpkin pie spice (see below)
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans
  1. Place cleaned cranberries in a 2 quart saucepan.
  2. Add the zest of three oranges to the cranberries. Halve the oranges, and add the juice. Cook over medium heat.
  3. Stir in coconut sugar and spices. Allow mixture to come to a boil then lower heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated and sauce has thickened to desired consistency.
  4. Meanwhile in a dry saute pan, toast pecans over medium low heat until fragrant and just starting to brown. Allow to cool. Roughly chop.
  5. To reheat, add 1/4 c of water or orange juice to compote and slowly warm over medium low heat.
  6. Spoon warmed compote over pancakes. Top with toasted, chopped pecans.

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Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  1. In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together.
  2. Store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.

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Cranberry-Jalape√Īo Relish

fresh cranberry-jalapeno relish in a glass bowl with mint garnishFor those who crave the cranberry tang on their holiday table but loathe the jiggle of Ocean Spray, this recipe is for you. It’s nice to have some healthy crunch in a sea of roasted, mashed, steamed and smashed, and spoonfuls of this on top of gooey slathers of baked Brie just might bring tears to your eyes. I often find myself sitting down with the leftovers and eating straight out of the Tupperware, something I heartily encourage you to try!

As much as I‚Äôd like to lay claim to this cranberry-jalapeno relish, my dear friend Teri brought this recipe into the fold, so I get to call ‚Äúmine‚ÄĚ only because I make it every time I see fresh cranberries at the market¬†(and sometimes dream about it at night).

cranberries and cilantro in bowls, onion, ginger, citrus, celery, pecans and jalapeno

Cranberry-Jalape√Īo Relish
  • 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (fresh are simply marvelous!)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 large fresh jalape√Īo chile, seeded and finely chopped (don’t remove the seeds if you like it spicy)
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 blood or navel oranges, peel and pith removed, flesh separated into segments, juice reserved
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 3 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, can add ab extra 1 T, to taste, if desired
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  1. Pulse cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  2. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Stir in zest, onion, jalape√Īo, orange sections and juice, lime juice, ginger, maple sugar or syrup, and celery.
  4. Refrigerate 1 hour (up to 2 days).
  5. Just before serving, stir in mint, cilantro and pecans.
  6. Enjoy a flavor circus in your mouth!

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For the most delicious holiday ever, what foods have to be a part of the spread at your house?