Cleavers and Lime Jelly Bites
There’s a certain kind of magic that comes from understanding what your body needs and being able to provide that for it. Many years struggling with a chronic illness has taught me to have a much deeper bodily awareness than I had when I was healthy. What used to be quiet background signals are now amplified messages, communicating through both symptoms and cravings.
Though I have studied herbalism, I do not consider myself an herbalist. I work with plants because I love them. I love the process of foraging, of getting closer to the earth. I love the way I feel when I eat them or sip fragrant tea. But along with learning about the edible and culinary uses of plants, a little herbalism snuck in too. When you’re focused on learning everything you can about a plant, those old folk tales of remedies come sifting through the cracks. I give them some merit in their own right, but it’s even more validating to come across a scientific study that proves those witchy women of the woods right.
As I battle my own chronic health issues, I know my body needs a couple of things desperately: it needs protein and collagen, it needs lymphatic stimulation, and it needs digestive enzymes. I also need some kind of delivery method for all of those that I can consume on days that I struggle with solid food. That answer, for me, has become homemade fruit gummies.
First of all, these gummies are super easy to make and just require a few minutes. Secondly, I can customize each batch to address what I am craving - both in terms of flavor and what I feel my body needs more of. Thirdly, they are incredibly soothing and nourishing. When I can eat nothing else, I can usually eat these gummies. And oh what a difference that has made!
I hope you find my magical gummies recipe as helpful as I do. These bites are really soothing for both colds and stomach upsets. They melt in your mouth to make a lovely silky texture, one that will help to coat your sore throat or sour stomach. Plus they’re packed full of other benefits. Let’s break them down:
Gelatin:* Gelatin is a form of collagen that comes from the nutrient-dense bones and connective tissues of animals. (If you’ve ever noticed a jelly-like texture in cooled bone broth, that’s what it is!) It contains 18 amino acids including glycine and proline, which help our bodies to support strong connective tissue (as well as healthy skin, nails, and hair.) The glycine also has a calming effect on the nerves and can help to reduce stress. Gelatin is gentle on the stomach and is a fairly easily-digestible source of protein, making it a great ally for those with compromised digestive systems. It’s also surprisingly relaxing and makes a great bedtime snack.
Cleavers are a wild plant that gets their name from the tiny little barbed hairs that cover their stems, making them stick (or cleave) onto pants, sweaters, hair, etc. They’re a viny groundcover with small pointed leaves that grow in whorls of six to eight. Cleavers are edible raw, though those hairs on the stems aren’t exactly an enjoyable texture to munch. But beyond their culinary uses in salads, cleavers do double duty as herbal supports. Juiced cleavers are a strong lymphatic system aid, helping lymph nodes flush out toxins. If you have hardened lymph nodes or if they are swollen and tender, those are the signs of stagnation or inflammation. Cleavers can help. They also have a diuretic effect, which helps to flush out the kidney and urinary tract as well, making them a great detoxification aid. This makes it especially interesting to many with chronic illness; it’s commonly used to support Lyme Disease treatments, for example.
Limes: Contain many electrolytes along with a good helping of vitamin C. They give a bright flavor to these gummies to offset the flavor of the gelatin.
Pineapple juice: Is full of nutrition, including vitamin C and Manganese. They also have quite a few antioxidants. But the best part is that pineapples contain a group of digestive enzymes known as bromelian. These enzymes help to break down protein molecules so the body can more easily absorb them. That means they’ll help you get more of the benefits from gelatin in these gummies! They also add a lovely sweet-tart flavor to the blend.
Juice of one lime
3 Tbs. honey
1 ½ c. pineapple juice
Small handful of fresh cleavers, washed
1 1/2 Tbs. grass-fed gelatin
1 silicone mold with small indentations
Edible gold luster, optional.
First, prepare your mold. I like to mix a tiny bit of gold edible luster with about ½ tsp. Of grapeseed oil to give the finished gummies a bit of shine, but the luster is totally optional. Use a clean paintbrush to lightly grease the insides of the mold. Set it on a sturdy surface like a cutting board or cookie tray for easier transportation.
Add the lime juice, 1 cup of pineapple juice, honey, and cleavers to a high-speed blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Strain through a sieve to catch any stems or woody parts that didn’t completely break down.
Pour ½ c. of the mixture into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until the gelatin is absorbed. (Drink the remaining half cup - it’s good for you!)
Heat the remaining ½ c. pineapple juice until hot but not boiling. (You should be able to hold your finger in it for 5 seconds - be careful not to burn yourself!) Add the gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve. Carefully pour the mixture into the molds. (These ones* are the perfect size for this recipe!) Leave to chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Remove, and enjoy! It’s best to eat the gummies throughout the course of a day or two, as that much gelatin on an empty stomach can be a little difficult to digest.
*These products are affiliate products though Amazon. That means I may make a small commission on your purchase at no extra cost to you. They are products I use myself and are the ones I’ve found work best for this recipe! Thank you for the little extra support you give me when you purchase through them. :)
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*New to foraging and don’t know where to start? Check out this blog post on Foraging 101!