I am not going to lie, this jello is definitely more involved than the jello out of a box. However, the health benefits of this homemade version are astounding compared to the health impairments the boxed jello provides. It is also a fun activity for kids because they can help stir the jello and use the cookie cutters to make shapes.
If you prefer a much quicker version of this jello, you can omit the chia seeds and only use 1 cup of cold juice versus the 1.5 cups of cold juice the recipe calls for. We used fresh squeezed juice made from our juicer to maximize the health benefit of this jello. Read here for some good reasons to make your own juice. (When you purchase juice that states “Not from Concentrate”, this does not mean it is less processed.) The advantage of using fresh juice made from oranges instead of eating them is that your body can absorb its nutrients into the bloodstream quicker and easier since digestion is not needed.
Oranges are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and flavonoids which all serve to help maintain a healthy body. They are an exceptional source of vitamin A, B, C, pectin, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, chlorine, calcium, folic acid, potassium, iron, and manganese. They are also incredibly beneficial for cardiovascular health. The high vitamin C content found in oranges aids in preventing hardening of the arteries, lowering the risk of heart conditions such as arteriosclerosis. Vitamin C also protects cells in the body from damage-causing molecules known as free radicals. These free radicals are known to be the root of multiple illnesses and diseases. (Source)
Orange Boxed Jello Ingredients
Sugar, Gelatin, Adipic Acid (for Tartness), Contains less than 2% of Natural Flavor and Artificial Flavor, Disodium Phosphate and Sodium Citrate (Controls Acidity), Fumaric Acid (for Tartness), Yellow 6, Red 40, BHA (Preservative).
Pre-made Orange Gelatin Snack Ingredients
Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Gelatin, Contains Less Than 0.5% of Adipic Acid and Citric Acid (FOR TARTNESS), Sodium Citrate (Controls Acidity), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Yellow 6, Red 40.
Gelatin comes from the structural protein collagen found in many animals. It can come from the collagen in cow or pig bones, hides, and connective tissues. This collagen is a fibrous protein that strengthens the body’s connective tissues and makes up almost one-third of the human body. As we get older, our body makes less collagen, and individual fibers become increasingly cross-linked with each other. This might result in stiff joints from less flexible tendons, or wrinkles due to loss of skin elasticity. (Source)
- Improves hair quality, growth, and texture.
- Aids with the aging process. As we age our bodies make less collagen and gelatin provides more elasticity.
- Improves nail strength and growth.
- Aids digestion.
- Aids with overall joint and bone health (and reduce arthritis pain).
- Cost-effective and nutritious way to get more protein in your diet. (It is not a complete protein so it shouldn’t be your only source for protein.)
- Helps you sleep better. (Source)
Chia is an edible gluten/grain free seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. Chia seeds are high in fiber and a great source of protein. One ounce of chia seeds is equal to 10.7 g of fiber, and contributes significantly towards your fiber intake for the day. Chia seeds are also a rich source of linolenic acid, that may aid in cholesterol reduction. One tablespoon of these seeds has more calcium than a glass of milk, more Omega-3s than Salmon, and more antioxidants than blueberries. They also contain mucin, strontium, 30% protein, Vitamins A, B, E, and D, and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, iron, iodine, copper, zinc, sodium, magnesium, manganese, niacin, thiamine, silicon, and anti-oxidants.
The essential fatty acids, antioxidants and dietary fiber in chia seeds have shown promise in reducing systolic blood pressure and preventing the onset of high cholesterol, effects that may improve your overall cardiovascular health. (Source) Another potential benefit of consuming chia is the seeds’ positive effect on your bones. Chia seed contains calcium, an essential mineral that makes up an integral part of bone tissue. (Source)
See here to see how chia seeds compare to other foods, such as salmon and milk.
Making a chia gel softens the seeds and makes them easier to eat and more versatile for use in recipes. The soaked Chia seeds absorb the flavor of whatever liquid they are soaked in.
Chia gel takes advantage of the capacity of chia seeds to absorb many times their weight in water. Chia gel may be taken by itself or added to creamy and liquid foods, significantly boosting nutrition and acting both as a food extender and a calorie displacer. This gel provides all the beneficial nutrients in chia seeds, including essential fats (EFAs), protein, complex carbohydrates, soluble fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and polysaccharides. Because they can absorb many times their size/weight in liquid, they are great for preventing dehydration during exercise or exposure to heat.
Perhaps the primary benefit of chia gel is that it slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars, thereby regulating and sustaining healthy blood sugar levels in the body. Stable blood sugar levels contribute to naturally high levels of energy, avoidance of abnormal cravings for foods, including sugary foods and simple carbohydrates) due to low blood glucose levels. Chia thereby helps you avoid “highs” and “lows” in energy or mood, as well as supports normal insulin function (i.e., natural blood sugar regulation). (Source)
Simply mix together 4 tbsp of chia seeds and 2 cups of water. Let chia stand for 15 to 30 minutes, stirring with a whisk to prevent clumping. Add this mixture up to equal parts by weight to sauces, drinks, salad dressings, jams, jellies, preserves, salsa, dips, puddings, soups, or other liquid or creamy foods. The gel won’t affect flavor, but definitely increases nutritional value. To make a quick Jello, add the chia seeds to fruit juice or coconut water and let sit for about 20 minutes. This is much better for hydration than Gatorade!
Orange Chia Seed Jello Jigglers
1. Add chia seeds to cold juice and let sit for 1 hour, whisking occasionally to prevent clumping.
2. Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice in large bowl and let stand for 1 minute.
3. Add hot juice and stir until gelatin completely dissolves, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in honey (optional).
5. Pour into 13x9x2 inch pan.
6. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
7. To serve, use cookie cutters to make shapes or cut into 1-inch squares.
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