Friday, February 10, 2006

Chili & Fruit Gel

Tomorrow we're having a "Baked Potato Bar" at our monthly vegetarian potluck. I decided to make a big batch of vegan chili con "carne" for a nice tater topping and a good lunch, too. I packed it with crackers, an organic pear, and some Dole Orange Gel with Mandarin Oranges.
Oh, I was sooo excited to find these little gel cups made with carrageenan instead of animal gelatin -- Shmoo can have a jello cup for lunch just like his peers! Then I was immediately crushed and infuriated by the inclusion of cochineal in almost every flavor. Why why why did they go through all the trouble of making a gelatin-free dessert cup and then put in smashed insects?? Orange was the only flavor available at our local store with no bug guts.
Verdict: He ate every bite of chili but didn't touch the crackers (I can't imagine chili without crackers, but I guess that's just me). He liked the gel but said it "tasted artificial". Well, yes it is! I wonder if anyone makes all-natural gel cups? 3 stars.

43 comments:

sarchan said...

"artificial," heh, that's funny. looks like all your wonderful cooking has trained him to have a refined palate! :)

Mal said...

Whoa! That jello is vegan? We had some in the 'fridge forever, and I didn't even think to check the ingredients -- just assumed it wasn't vegan-friendly.

Teagen said...

I know Rice Dream makes, or used to make Pudding cups, and I've seen veggie 'Jello' box mix at the health food stores, I think it's hain brand, never made it though. Kanten made with agar agar is good but firmer than the traditional jello. I know the ready made cups are handy and more mainstream though.

EatPeacePlease said...

I love that he called it artificial! Awesome kid!

VLyandra said...

Kool-Aid gels are also vegan, though obviously not very natural. You might have better luck at Asian food stores, where there are more gelatin-free jelly cups. Konnyaku jellies (though not quite as popular now as they used to be) don't contain any gelatin. They have a different texture from jell-o, though. I'd link some online vendors, but I don't really knnow of any. ^^;;

deva said...

Hunt's Snack Packs Gels may be vegan. the sugar free ones at least... i know they are made with carrageenan instead of Gelatin...

Natasha said...

Horizon Organic makes little vegan gel cups, too.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Hain makes a natural fruit
gel powder that you make like
Jello, and I remember it was quite
good. You just reminded me to go
get some more. Can't recall all the ingredients, and hope it doesn't contain that nasty cochineal! I had never heard of this before, and now this is the
second time this week I've heard
about it. Yuck!!!!!

Vegan Knitting said...

Horizon makes all natural fruit gels that are vegan. They have orange and strawberry. They are pretty good! I buy mine at whole foods. They come in packs of 4.

eli said...

Awww, it tastes artificial! What an awesome kid.

I'm 21 and I'm just now getting to the point where things like gelatin cups taste "artificial" and not "good".

Anonymous said...

Seconding the check out an Asian food store comment. Japanese Konnyaku jellies do have a different texture because they are yam based. They come in lots of flavors; orange, grape, apple, peach... They are generally smaller cups (bite sized) than American sized. I do understand them to be vegan, but that's through translation as I am living in Japan currently.

Tori said...

Mmmm... the Konnyaku jellies are good. Especially the lychee flavored ones.

About Gel cups: if they are shelf stable, they are most likely Vegetarian, possibly vegan. The ones in the cold section, I don't bother reading... those are usually gelatin.

Allicia said...

My local vegan chinese restaurant gives out these things called "Jelly Tubs" for dessert sometimes.

This is what they look like:
http://www.alibaba.com/catalog/10870671/Jelly_Tubs.html

[Ingredients: Water, sugar, carrageenan, locust bean gum, coconut chunk, citric acrid, sodium citrate, natural flavour(grape), and some coloring]

They aren't too bad.

Kristina said...

Hi, it is easy to make your own jell cups and they taste real. Just mix agar agar with a little water heat to disolve mix with real fruit juice add some fruit if you wish and put in the frig until cool and set. Add some fruit in it if you like. It will make a soft fruit jell. And it taste soo wonderfully real, because it is real.

Chelee said...

I'm really grossed out that they are using bugs to color jello.
Thanks for sharing...

Cordelia said...

to add to kristina's comment, it is really fun to make fruit juice agar jello and then slice an orange (or grapefruit, etc) in half and scoop out all of the pulp. then you can fill it with the gel, refridgerate it to set it up, and slice the "orange" into segments. then you can eat the segments like it's an orange! cool huh?

shagginabit said...

Veganstore.com (Pangea) sells vegan "jello" style dessert dry mix for about 50 cents a box. That's also a possibility. :-)

Poppy said...

I agree that those gel cups taste artificial. I had bought some but threw them out, they have a funny aftertaste.

deva said...

i'm nearly 20 and when something is artificial i'm just starting to dislike that "artificial" flavor.. :/

i never thought of using agar powder to make my own jell... :) i'll have to try that!

Jennifershmoo said...

Wow, I had no idea there were so many vegan "jello" options! Thanks, everyone! I can't wait to go searching for Konnyaku jellies and Horizon fruit gels. And I love the idea of making my own using orange shells for a container. How cute is that??

Sarah T said...

I also like the Hains vegan "gelatin" -- they're called "SuperFruits" and work like powdered Jello (add hot water, allow to set in the fridge). You can also buy no-flavor vegan gelatin and make it with fruit juice.

Anonymous said...

Be careful with the konnyaku jellies. Some kids have choked on them.

http://www.fda.gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/topics/konjac.html

Bryanna said...

Agar-agar tends to be overly firm, but you can make a nice jelled dessert by mixing it with a little starch, such as cornstarch (organic is available). Here is a basic recipe:

VEGAN FRUIT JELL

Using agar alone makes a rubbery jell. If you add some starch it makes a more delicate jell.

4 c. sweet fruit juice of choice

OPTIONAL: sugar or other sweetener to taste if juice isn't sweet enough

pinch salt

OPTIONAL: some grated citrus rind.

1/2 tsp. vanilla or other flavoring , if desired

2 tsp. agar powder (OR 1/4 c. agar flakes)

1 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. water

OPTIONAL: fresh fruit to add to jell


Sprinkle the agar over the juice (with sweetener, salt and any flavoring). Let soak a few minutes. Then cook over medium heat til boiling. Agar powder just needs to simmer for a minute; flakes should simmer at least 5 minutes. Add dissolved starch and stir in. Boil for 30 seconds.

Pour into a bowl or small bowls. Place in refrigerator. When half-jelled, you can stir in fruit. Let set until firm and cold.

Anonymous said...

Yet another delicious-looking lunch!

I've been checking out this blog on a daily basis ever since I first heard about it back in September... oh, how I wish that my lunches had been like this back when I was in school! (Well, never mind when I was in school... I want these lunches now!)

I hope it's not inappropriate to ask this, but as it's been a while since we've had a new recipe posted, would you consider posting the recipe for this chili in your "shmooed food" blog? I've got a SERIOUS craving for some vegan chili now! :-)

Karen Anne said...

People keep asking in here about stopping apple slices from turning brown. Here's a pointer to an article in the nytimes. I don't know what happens when you open the bag and repackage them. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/12/magazine/12apples.html?pagewanted=all

michelleknits said...

tastes artificial -- that's adorable!

Shelly said...

I second what Tori said...the lychee ones are awesome, although I must confess I didn't know that was what the flavor was. I buy them at my asian food market and everything except for the ingredients is in Japanese...that's how I knew they were vegan. Now that I've gone back and looked...lychee is right there in the ingredients. Silly me.

Claire said...

Haha, I just tried that Dole orange flavour this weekend! I thought it was ok. Again, I bought it because it was the one that didn't have beetle in it...but I don't really like orange flavour (especially when fake) so they were only ok.

I remember finding out what gelatine was when I was a kid, and I instantly stopped eating it. A preview of what was to come when I was old enough to really think about meat, I guess!

Anonymous said...

I thought 'cochineal' was just the name given to the red colouring, but that it wasn't really beetle blood any longer....? Is this not so?

Harmonia said...

Get this! Hubs, who is the most hardcore omni I know, says to me...do you know jello has animal bones and other body parts in it?


WTF? I thought - him of all people!

Anyhow, I haven't had jello in YEARS...although I have heard of Dole being free of animal ingredients...I should be a good veg and support them for the attempt. Thanks for that extra encouragement!

Have fun at the potluck! I wish we had those here. I don't know enough people to start one either.

Paula - England said...

insects in food...oh my goodness, I've dipped my toes in vegetarism before, but as you rightly point out unless we make ourselves aware of the ins and outs of our food we live in ignorance - as the big food giants wish us to be...I came across your wonderful website via a homeschoolers site and have fallen in love with it! well done and many thanks...I think I'm a convert! insects for heavens sake!

Anonymous said...

Just a word of caution, be careful with the little gel cups from asian food stores, the ones that are like "bite size" they have been proven to be a very very bad choking hazard for kids of all ages, b/c if they suck them out of the package (think of a jello shot) they can get lodged in the asophygus, and cannot be suctioned out. It's similar to the problem with hot dogs/veggie dogs :).
Also he may like the horizon jello cups, I tried them and didn't like them b/c they tasted too natural :) ;)

Nicole said...

I'm sure that you could, if necessary, just add some carrageenan or another thickener to Little Schmoo's juice of choice and make him non-"artificial" gel in the flavour of his choice! I am of the opinion that there is nothing that Schmoo can't doo!

I live in a warm, dark, basement suite. I'm sorry to admit, but if a big hairy spider finds its way into my "barefoot zone" I am likely to smash it with something. That being said, I wouldn't want to eat it!

Spider said...

Hunt's also makes vegan gel cups!

Anonymous said...

i think "horizon" makes vegan gel.

p.s. love love love this site! it brings a smile to my face every time i visit.

Mary Desaulniers said...

You make vegan meals so tasty and yummy! And vegan cooking a real gourmet fare! Thank you!

Have you read The China Study by Dr.T. Colin Campbell?
Fascinating book about the perils of meat and dairy products. Here is a synopsis of the book, if anyone is interested. I'm sure you are familiar with it.


http://www.greatbodyat50.com/MindBody/index.php?itemid=48


Thank you again for raising our vegan consciousness!

organicmom.com said...

Does anyone know a good source ( online a company name)for Agar? I found the flakes at my local natural foods store and they were $6.50/oz! Yikes!

Anonymous said...

I just bought some gel cups at the store today that are made by Del Monte. I can't find anything in them that isn't vegan.

Sarah said...

Hi guys! I have been a lurker of this website for quite some time and just want to say, I love you for what you are doing. I am only 19 and have been vegan for 3 years, but when I get older and have kids I will truly be inspired to go through all the trouble of keeping them vegan and loving it! Not to get sidetracked, I went to Tops today after reading about vegan gel-lo and got sooo excited. It seems that EVERY flavor of the DelMonte fruit and gel cups is vegan!!!! Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I would have never bothered to look!

Anonymous said...

there's rumors about the emes kosher gel/jel that claims to be vegan... supposedly it isn't really vegan. fooey. just thought i'd say watch out for it.

Rebecca M. said...

Just finding your blog now and reading through the back posts...here is a link featuring agar-agar and recipes Mary Jane's Farm. I have tried some of her other products and really liked them. One of the recipes on the site is for "Giggle Wiggles," kind of like Knox-blocks that I grew up on. A "sugar-free, dye-free, fruit-juice sweetened, youngster fun."

red said...

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