How’s your week going so far? I’ve intentionally made this a pretty relaxed one (meaning not many after-work commitments and a scaled-back week mileage wise when it comes to running) in order to let my body recover a bit. I don’t have any races this weekend but the next one on my radar is The North Face Endurance Challenge on July 13th. It’s not far away, and I’ve still got plenty of training to do to prepare. In order to steer clear of injuries and burn out, I’m going to focus for a few days on recovering as much as possible so that I can log some quality trail runs over the weeks leading up to race day. And speaking of relaxing, I’ve already been doing that by having some fun in the kitchen. Fun in the form of burgers.
1. Recipe of the Week. On Monday I came home from work feeling kinda-sorta hungry but not too sure what I wanted for dinner. I parked my car, got out, and almost immediately smelled the amazing summer aroma of food cooking on a grill. All of the sudden, I was STARVING. Like feed-me-now, I-want-what-you’re-having starving.
Lucky for me, the fridge was well stocked with barbeque-ables. Over the weekend, I’d planned to make my Jamaican Jerk Burgers with Mango Salsa (and old favourite posted on Eat Spin Run Repeat back in 2011). I made the salsa, but ran out of time to make the actual burgers. Ok, maybe that’s only part of the truth…. I got lazy and couldn’t be bothered. The recipe was printed off and I made some notes on it – just a few tweaks here and there to make the burgers taste better. Seriously regretting my weekend laziness, I managed to stop my stomach grumbling with raw veggies while making the patties and cooking them on the grill.
My favourite thing about the BBQ (aside from the smell)? It’s super fast. These guys only took about 3-4 minutes per side and are packed with amazing flavour – a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, and all sorts of delicious. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
2. Making healthy gummies. If you were to offer me gummy candy or chocolate as a kid, I would have picked the gummies about 90% of the time. Looking back, I think this was because my mum has been allergic to chocolate for as long as I can remember, so we didn’t really have it around the house. I remember my sister and I going out for bike rides around our block, and frequently stopping in at my grandpa’s house for a quick visit. Well actually – and I hate to admit this – it wasn’t so much for a visit as it was to grab a few gummy bears out of the drawer in the front entrance way of his house. He ALWAYS had some in that drawer and we knew it. We’d also leave the bag open and they’d go stale, but we totally didn’t care. (The stale ones are harder to chew, and therefore last longer, right?)
That was back in the 90s (which I really miss) and the ‘healthy’ gummy bears you can buy at your health food store these days didn’t exist yet. Really, there was nothing healthy about the ones we used to eat – just corn syrup and dyes and artificial everything. Obviously that didn’t stop us at the time, but lately I’ve been intrigued by all the DIY healthy gummy recipes on Pinterest and yesterday I decided to try it out for myself.
Last week ZICO sent me an awesome little surprise box of goodies for summer, including coconut water, a water bottle, popsicle moulds (you’ll see those in a future post), and silicone moulds.
The silicone moulds looked perfect for making homemade gummies, so that’s exactly what I used them for. The ingredients were as follows:
- 1/2 cup pureed strawberries, blueberries, and a few bits of apples and oranges – I added a tiny squirt of lemon juice to my Vitamix to get all of this moving. If you wanted them to be more like traditional gummies, you could juice the fruit instead but I kind of liked the texture of the puree.
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 3 packets unflavoured gelatin – each packet was 1 tbsp. The gelatin I used was by GoBio and I found it at one of our local health food stores. It’s porcine gelatine, meaning that it comes from structural protein collagen found in pigs. While I would have preferred to get grass-fed gelatin (Great Lakes and Bernard Jensen seem to be the only/most popular brands according to Google), this was the best I could find locally. Based on what I’ve read, it seems to be a fairly good option as far as brands and quality go. If you want to read more about the health benefits of gelatin and what to look for when you buy it, I found these articles really helpful.
- a tiny bit of stevia concentrate powder
- 1 tsp L-Glutamine – which is known for its ability to help with recovery, support the intestinal tract, decrease joint pain, and boost the immune system. The brand I used was North Coast Naturals fermented L-glutamine.)
- 1/4 tsp acai powder – I used Nativas Naturals acai powder for an extra boost of antioxidants
After pureeing the fruit in my Vitamix, I poured it into a container that I knew I’d be able to use to neatly pour the liquid into the moulds with.
On the stove, I heated the coconut water in a small pot until it became hot but not boiling. After turning the heat down a bit, a poured in the 3 tbsp of gelatin and whisked away until it all dissolved. The box of gelatin warned that it can be warm but should never come to a boil, so I kept an eye on it the whole time.
After a few minutes, the liquid was really thin and runny. I poured it into my container of fruit puree, whisked, then stirred in the stevia and acai powder. All of these mix-ins sort of ruined the nice deep purple colour, but I guess that just goes to show how much dye must be used in your usual grocery store gummies.
I wasn’t sure if the heat would kill the health properties of the L-glutamine, so I waited a minute for things to cool down a bit before stirring in 1 tsp.
Next, the liquid went into the silicone moulds and into the fridge.
I’d read about all sorts of different setting times (from 15 minutes to 3 hours) but these didn’t take long at all. I gave them 30 minutes just to be sure, and when I inverted the moulds to get them out, this happened:
Womp womp wooooooooomp. #gummyfail. Not wanting to give up just yet, I decided to give it another shot. This time, I got rid of the moulds and used a cookie cutter instead. I lined a baking sheet with some foil, then poured my fruity gelatin mixture over top and let it set in the fridge. Everything else stayed exactly the same, and once I cut out a bunch of shapes, I had these:
Not bad, hey? This method was much easier than using the moulds, but I’ve read that you can get much more flexible moulds that are more forgiving when it comes to inverting and flipping the gummies out.
Taste-wise, they were tasty but not as sweet or tart as I anticipated. My research had warned me of this, so I’m thinking about what could be added to make them more flavourful. Pineapple prevents the gelatin to set properly because of an enzyme that it contains, so maybe lemon juice, grapefruit juice, or Emergen-C packets? Anyone want to weigh in on this?
If I come up with any fabulously flavourful combos, you guys will be the first to know. In the meantime, if you’re looking for some awesome resources to make your own, I found this blog and this blog (the one I got the base recipe from) particularly helpful. Oh, and if you’re wondering whether or not there is a vegan/vegetarian-friendly alternative to gelatin, I’ve learned that agar agar powder can be used as a substitute. I have no idea what the correct substitution quantities would be though, so I’d suggest doing a bit of research first. This post might help. 🙂
So tell me…
- Have you tried making your own fruit gummies before? How did they turn out?
- What was one of your favourite childhood chocolates or candies? I was all about Cherry Blasters, gummy worms and Sour Patch Kids. Somehow, I managed to be cavity-free until my late teens, long after I stopped eating them. Go figure, hey?