Gummy bears: they’re cute, they’re colorful, and they’re full of confectionery sugar. One of those things is not like the others, and it’s a huge problem when you’re on a ketogenic diet. Luckily, as with so may other low-carb substitutions you can make on keto (zoodles for pasta, cauliflower for rice), gummy bears have a replacement recipe too. We have the information on what makes up store-bought gummies, and two recipes for how to make your own healthier keto gummy bears at home.
If you’re on a low-carb keto diet, you already know what’s wrong with refined sugar: pretty much everything. It’s dangerous to your blood sugar levels, it’s bleached and stripped of anything good that used to be there (just like refined white flour and rice), it’s addictive, and it’s literally killing some of us when it leads to the development of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and various other metabolic disorders. It’s always a good time to quit sugar.
Luckily there are a variety of natural sugar replacements, including stevia, which is even sweeter than sugar. So when making homemade gummy bears, is it just a matter of subbing in some other sweetener instead of sugar? Not necessarily, because there’s another problem with gummy bears: gelatin.
Vegans know to refuse foods like gummy bears and Jello. Why? Because gelatin is an animal product, and the more you know about it, the more it may turn your stomach.
Gelatin is an odorless and mostly tasteless yellowy substance made from boiling animal skin, cartilage, and bone. These are the leftovers of meat-packing factories piled into a vat and boiled to make your average gummy candies, and that includes boiling horns and hooves.
Is it possible to have gummy bears without animal gelatin? Is there a way to responsibly consume gelatin without contributing to animal cruelty? The answer to both questions is yes, and we have the details below.
If you came here for keto, you may leave here with a reason to be vegan keto from now on.
Capping your net carbs at around 5% of your daily calories is great for your health, and removing animal products from your food is often more than a dietary choice; it’s an ethical stance taken for the sake of animal safety and planet sustainability.
That being said, not everyone can completely quit consuming animal products, especially those who are under doctor’s orders to get the highest quality protein around (like those recovering from injury or surgery, or those who are pregnant and building a whole new life with the nutrients they eat).
That is why we are providing two recipe options for making keto gummy bears, one using grass-fed gelatin, and another without gelatin or any other animal products whatsoever.
Maya at Wholesome Yum provides natural, gluten-free, low-carb recipes made with 10 ingredients or less, and her Pink Gummy Bear recipe does not disappoint. She points out that not only do the nutrition facts labels on gummy bears at the grocery store reveal multiple problematic sugar ingredients (refined sugar, maltitol syrup, glucose syrup, artificial flavors, and artificial colors), but the gelatin component is also problematic.
While there are supposedly keto-friendly sugar-free gummy bear products out there, they are still full of artificial ingredients and can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. That means that those looking for low-carb gummy bears may end up with unpleasant side effects just because they have a sweet tooth, and that’s not right: your low-carb-calorie diet should help you feel better, not worse!
Which leads us to homemade keto candy recipes like this one. Maya’s ingredients include:
You’ll also need a blender, a saucepan, and some silicone gummy bear molds.
The total time for these homemade gummy bears, including prep time, is about 15 minutes.
After that your work is done, and it’s only a matter of waiting 1 to 2 hours for the gummy bears to set. This recipe notes that you can leave them out at room temperature, but advises storing them in the refrigerator to keep them firm.
Now you can have homemade gummy bears without jeopardizing your weight-loss efforts, and you can safely share them with your kids as well.
Maya points out that in using responsibly sourced gelatin you can still gain the collagen-boosting benefits that many people consume bone broth soup for, without contributing to industrial farming abuses. Those benefits include improved skin, hair, and nails, joint support, and better gut health.
Kirbie at Kirbie’s Cravings has a recipe for Vegan Gummy Fruit Snacks that replaces gelatin with agar powder. With fruit juices like cranberry, orange, apple, and lemon juice, plus agar powder, you can get gummy bears (or gummy worms or fruit chews) without any animal products at all.
While they won’t have the exact chewy texture as regular gelatin gummy bears (they’re a little softer, more like Jello), you’re less likely to mind when you consider just how much better for you all these natural ingredients are.
Moreover, Kirbie points out that in experimenting for texture, coconut water actually leant itself to a more chewy texture than the various fruit juices did, so you could experiment with making a mixed blend of juice and coconut water if the texture is important to you.
The key is to choose real juices for flavoring over juice concentrate mixtures, and while there’s a “print recipe” option at the link, this, like many other keto recipes, is remarkably simple and easy with just three ingredients:
There you have it: an easy keto gummy bears recipe for a vegan low-carb diet. Store in an airtight container for the longest possible freshness (assuming you don’t gobble up those gummies right away).
When you’re first starting out on your keto diet, it can feel like a lot of sacrifices. You can’t have breads, you can’t have beer (or can you?), you can’t even eat ketchup anymore because it’s full of sugars too: what is even left on the grocery store shelves for you to eat without hassle?
It often feels like every kind of food you’re used to contributes to your total carbs somehow, and while it can be frustrating in the beginning, once you start experiencing dramatic weight loss and begin making your own, much healthier replacement foods and snacks, it gets easier by the day.
Just as keto isn’t about no-carbs but low-carbs, it’s also not a diet of no choices but creative alternative choices. The possibilities are nearly endless because when there’s a will for candy, there is a way to have it, and you’ll find your preferred path in no time.