After lots and lots of experimenting in the kitchen, I’m happy to say I have finally created a vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and chemical-free version of Raspberry Pretzel Jello that rivals the classic version. Before being diagnosed with celiac disease, Raspberry Pretzel Jello used to be one of my favorite desserts. We would always make it for Thanksgiving and Easter. Sadly, the original version is far from being gluten- and dairy-free.
The original version calls for pretzels and butter for the crust, cool whip and cream cheese for the middle layer, and raspberry jello with frozen raspberries for the top layer. Sounds yummy, huh? Although not all of these ingredients are bad for you, this recipe contains several ingredients that may harm your health.
- The raspberry jello contains artificial flavorings, added sugar, and red dye #40
- The pretzels contain refined white flour which may spike your blood sugar and increase inflammation
- The cool whip is not even a real food (see below for more details)
In case you don’t know, cool whip is a concoction created by food manufacturers in a lab and the top two ingredients used to make it are high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oil is the kind of fat you want to avoid at all costs. Since it is solid at room temperature, it is more likely to clog your arteries and increase your risks of heart disease and stroke. Not to mention, it also raises your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers your good cholesterol (HDL) . Likewise, high fructose corn syrup is also created in a lab. It is by no means a natural sugar. Although there is a great deal of debate about the health effects of high fructose corn syrup, we can’t ignore the fact that obesity rates have more than tripled and incidence of diabetes has increased sevenfold since it was introduced into the American diet.
Our version of this delicious jello dessert is made from 100% wholesome ingredients created by mother nature, not by food manufacturers. The raw crust is made from almonds, gluten-free oats, and dates; the middle layer is a mixture of cashews, vanilla, and coconut whipped cream; and the jello layer is made with 100% fruit juice, frozen raspberries, and agar agar, a high fiber sea weed. So, just to make the comparison a bit easier, here’s a chart that highlights the possible health effects of each recipe:
|Original Recipe||SU&G Recipe|
|Increases blood sugar, may increase inflammation||Contains anti-oxidants, fiber and healthy fats which may help to decrease inflammation|
|Contains artificial ingredients and food chemicals||Contains vitamins and minerals and all natural sugar from fruit|
|Contains animal bi-products||Gluten-free, Vegan, Paleo*, Kosher|
|*see option in recipe to make 100% Paleo|
What is agar agar and what is it used for?
- It’s polysaccharide derived from sea weed
- It’s rich source of minerals
- It’s high in fiber
- It has been used in Japanese medicine for hundreds of years
- It is commonly used as a laxative
- It may increase feeling of fullness due to bulking effect in the gut
- It does not contain gluten, corn, dairy, soy, preservatives or animal bi-products
According to WebMD, agar agar may be safe to consume by all adults however, there is insufficient research about the safety of consuming agar agar during pregnancy and breast feeding so, to be safe, it should be avoided. Additionally, agar agar may decrease the effectiveness of some medications when consumed with medication.
- ¾ cup almonds
- ¼ cup dates
- 1.5 Tbsp cold pressed coconut oil
- ½ tsp vanilla extract (make sure it's gf)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup gluten-free oats or additional ½ cup almonds for Paleo version
- 1 tsp water (if needed)
- Mock Cream Cheese:
- 1 cup cashews
- ½ cup water
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup (or other sweetener)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1.5 tsp lemon juice
- 1 can coconut milk (full-fat), refrigerated for at least 2 hours
- Juice of 1 orange (fresh) + enough 100% unsweetened Pomegranate Juice to equal 2 cups
- 1.5 Tbsp agar agar flakes
- 1 bag of frozen raspberries, thawed
- For the crust: soak the dates in warm water for at least 10 minutes. In the meantime, add all other ingredients to a food processor and blend for 30-60 seconds. Pit the dates and add them to the food processor. Blend until a smooth dough forms. Set aside.
- For the Mock Cream Cheese: place all ingredients except the coconut cream in a high powered blender. Blend until creamy. Scoop out the solid cream at the top of the can of coconut milk and discard the watery part. Place the cream in a mixer and whisk until fluffy using the whisk attachment. Alternatively, place cream in a magic bullet or get your work out in and whisk by hand. Fold the whipped cream into your cream cheese mixture. Set aside.
- For the jello, place two cups of orange-pomegranate juice in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and add the agar agar. Boil for two minutes, whisking often. Remove from heat and let cool.
- To assemble single servings (as shown in the picture) place a small amount of crust in the bottom of your serving dish, layer with cream cheese mixture and top with frozen raspberries. When the jello has cooled for about 10 minutes pour jello over the raspberries. Place on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator. Cool for at least two hours. Top with coconut whipped cream and a fresh raspberry if desired.
I used agar agar flakes in my recipe. If you are using agar agar powder, you will need to use much less. Try 1-2 tsp first and pour a small amount into a container. After it cools, about 20 mins in the refrigerator, test its consistency. If it's too thin, add more, if it's too firm, add more juice. Either way, bring it to a boil again and allow it to cool. The time you take to test your jello will be worth not ruining your whole dessert.
The Mock Cream Cheese Recipe was adapted from therawtarian.com and the raw crust was adapted from the wholefooddiary.com
And don’t think that you have to be gluten-free, dairy-free or anything else free to enjoy this version. It tastes incredibly similar to the original version only it’s made of 100% ingredients created by nature. Enjoy!
As always, we send you LOVE and PEACE without grease!
XO, The Glisten Girls
Begun, R. (2014, February 13). Food Additive Defintions. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/what-are-food-additives
Trans Fats. (2014, August 5). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Trans-Fats_UCM_301120_Article.jsp