Sugar-free Hibiscus (Jamaica) Raspberry Jello

Occasionally, I get a hankering for gummy bears.

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This recipe immediately took me back to sucking on Haribo Gummy bears as a child – an unexpected extra shot of joy in what was already an instantly successful attempt in fitting a sweet treat into a reduced-grain, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, deeply healing, body rebuilding diet.

Inspired by Diane SanFilippo’s fantastic work “Practical Paleo“, this recipe served as a “what I can create with what I’ve got” variation of her herbal tea gelatin cubes. Like all of my original recipes, I start with 1-3 other recipes as a template, merge them all together with significant substitutions, whimsy hits of inspiration and a dash of bravado, then take to the kitchen like an over-caffeinated mad scientist.

Hibiscus flower, known as jamaica in Mexico (not to be confused with jicama) is most commonly seen served as a brilliantly fuchsia beverage by street vendors and small cafes.  Hibiscus tea is loaded with antioxidants (as is evident from it’s brilliant hue) and has been shown in some research to effectively lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

The tart-tasting flower is also rich in vitamin C, and when paired with gelatin, as in this recipe, serves as delicious medicine for tendon, ligament, and skin repair.

Behold – Hibiscus Raspberry Jello! All of the color and sweetness of our childhood snack with none of the Red #5 or sugar!

  • 2 Tablespoons organic gelatin (I’m a fan of Great Lakes products)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup hibiscus flowers (found at almost any Mexican market – look for “flor de jamaica” – or online)
  • 1/2 cup xylitol (erythritol can also be used)*
  • 1.5 droppers of liquid stevia
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Bring the water and hibiscus flowers to a boil. Strain the flowers out and set aside. While still hot, add the gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add sweeteners. Pour the liquid into a 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish and let cool. Add raspberries, then refrigerate overnight or until firm (about 2 – 3 hours).

 

*Both xylitol and erythritol are sugar alcohols. Xylitol is a non-fermentable sugar alcohol that has about 30% fewer calories than sugar and appears to have antibacterial and anti-microbial effects. Erythritol is best tolerated if sugar alcohols make you gassy. I chose to xylitol because I felt stevia alone may be too strong; I will be experimenting in the future with exclusively stevia as a sweetener.  If natural sugar sources are acceptable to you, 2 tbsp. of honey may be used in lieu of the xylitol.

 

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