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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Joy of Gelatin

This year we introduced a new feature in our Cooking with Kaye weekly newsletter titled "All in the Family." The focus is preparing family friendly meals that support our high protein, complex-carbohydrate diet so that we can enjoy meals together eating the same things. We seek to find a way for the entire family to eat delicious, affordable meals that are mindful of our diverse health requirements. Our families are our first line of support, so uniting at mealtime is a good a logical step in working for better health for all of  us.
Our first "All in the Family" free electronic newsletter was published on January 13, 2011. You can view the entire newsletter her: Cooking with Kaye - Joy of Gelatin

Joy of Gelatin
"For this first "All in the Family" I selected gelatin as my subject food because it is beloved by many, easy to make, affordable to serve, and nutritionally supportive of not just a person recovering from obesity, but also for growing children. And I've never seen anyone eat Jell-O with a frowning face!  A serving of Jell-O alone costs about .25 cents (store brands are even less). Adding fruit, vegetables or a dairy topping will increase the cost a bit, but for hardly more than a dollar a serving Jell-O is a great value for everyday snacking or desserts.

Gelatin has a long shelf life so I keep on hand a variety of Jell-O brand gelatin dessert mixes; sugar free and original with sugar. I also keep on hand Knox Gelatine, original unflavored. Gelatin side dishes, salads, and desserts can be prepared quickly at the beginning of the meal preparation and in most cases by serving time the gelatin has set and is ready to be served, making them doable on busy weeknights or last minute efforts to make a meal special. I have learned that individual servings made in plastic disposable cups set up quickly and provide perfect portion sizes while giving the feeling of something special just for me to whomever enjoys the treat.

"Gelatin is full of tricks," wrote Irma S. Rombauer in her successful cookbook Joy of Cooking over 75 years ago. She says, "It can turn liquids into solids to produce gala dessert and salad molds. It makes sophisticated meringues and mousses, gives a smoother texture to frozen desserts, cheesecakes, chiffon pies, jellies, and cold soups, and it thickens cold sauces and glazes."

Jell-O just for WLS me. When I make Jell-O for my daily planned snacks I use one package of sugar free Jell-O (4 serving size) and one envelope Knox Gelatine, original unflavored. Following package directions I dissolve the sugar free Jell-O in 1 cup of boiling water; set aside. In the bowl I will set and store the Jell-O I put 1 cup of cold fruit juice or cold leftover tea and sprinkle the Knox Gelatine on top to soften; about 1 minute. Then I stir in the dissolved hot Jell-O and stir until everything is dissolved and mixed well. At this time I may add fresh chopped fruit or whisk-in some low-fat yogurt: whatever is on hand and chilled. The Knox Gelatine compensates for extra moisture from added ingredients and guarantees the salad will set (technically, there is enough gelatin to "bloom" or set 4 cups of liquid). It also provides about 2g more protein per serving, and this is easily digested protein. On most days this sets within an hour and is ready to enjoy!

This method makes for a firmer gelatin treat than the method directed on the package. According to Rombauer in Joy of Cooking, "Finished gelatin should be quivery, not rigid, when jostled." My method takes it beyond quivery, but not so rubbery that it becomes unpleasant. For me the denser snack has a bit more staying power than a lighter more quivery Jell-O. Remember, not only do we want to make a smart food selection when we snack, we want the feeling of satiation and pleasure to stay with us until the next mealtime. A Jell-O snack is also an easy snack to enjoy while following liquid restrictions. No liquids 30 minutes before or after snack, no liquids with snack. Following that rule keeps your Jell-O from becoming a slider food as well.

More Recipes & Ideas:
LivingAfterWLS Neighborhood Kitchen

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