When was the last time you had Jell-O? Visiting my mom in the hospital, I went to the cafeteria for lunch and couldn’t pass up a little cup of lemon Jell-O in the refrigerator case. There’s something about cafeterias that makes me want Jell-O. I love Jell-O because it’s jewel-colored, jiggly, and dairy-free.
Unfortunately, vegans are out of luck since Jell-O contains gelatin, a protein produced from collagen extracted from boiled bones, connective tissue, and other animal products. My husband and I joke that it’s made from “horse hooves.” (This is a myth; it doesn’t contain hooves of any kind.) Gelatin is actually considered good for you, like in bone broth, which is all the rage right now.
Other than the gelatin, though, Jell-O is pretty much devoid of all nutrients. It’s basically just sugar and water. I ate tons of it recently while I was sick with the stomach flu because my digestive system couldn’t handle anything else — besides Saltines, apple juice, rice, bananas, and white bread. (The BRAT diet: it’s all sugar!) But when you’re nauseous, you gotta eat whatever you can keep down.
I have a special fondness for Jell-O because it was the first dish I ever made by myself. (I would say “cooked,” but it really doesn’t require any cooking except boiling water.) I was about ten years old, and I started by simply following the directions on the box. Pretty soon I was making Jell-O molds layered with different flavors, filled with fruit cocktail, and topped with various whipped creams. Just now I Googled and found out that a non-dairy version of Reddi-Wip exists. I need that for my next round of Jell-O!
When you’re lactose-intolerant, lots of desserts are off-limits, so I have a great appreciation for simple sweets like Jell-O. If you haven’t had it in a while, I encourage you to watch it wiggle… see it jiggle… and rediscover the joys of Jell-O.