NOTICE: This blog is no longer being updated, so medical information may no longer be accurate.

Funny Oranges

After I got the Breville Citrus Press and started making fresh squeezed orange juice each morning, I found myself knee deep in orange peels.  Instead of throwing them all away, I wondered if I could use some of them for a fun lunchbox treat.  I remembered seeing a recipe for Gelatin Oranges on Disney’s Family Fun website so I thought I would give it a try.  If you or your child has a beef allergy (gelatin), avoid artificial colorings, etc., keep reading…  this gets much better! 😉

These are relatively easy to make (and super easy if you have the Breville Citrus Press to do the juicing work for you!).

Funny Oranges

  • Just slice oranges in half and scoop out the fruit. Be sure to scrape well and remove all the orange pulp, you will want the inside of the orange to be white.
  • To keep the oranges upright, I used a muffin pan to set the oranges in.
  • Prepare gelatin (or substitute, see below) as indicated on the package.
  • Pour gelatin into the prepared orange halves and refrigerate until set.
  • Slice Orange halves and you will have a fun little treat for snacks or to stick in a lunchbox!

The juicer only does so much, I still had to peel the last bit of orange "stuff" out by hand.

Prop the hollowed out oranges in a muffin pan for support.

Pour prepared gelatin into orange halves.

After reading a few of the comments for the Easy Lunchbox Giveaway, I decided to send in tacos for a cool new lunch. Wish I had re-read the comments before I made them as I would have known NOT to assemble the taco the night before! They were pretty soggy come lunch time the next day, LOL! I always seem to learn the hard way. 😉 If you make a taco lunch, be sure to seperate all the components and let your child assemble their own taco at lunch time... this is "much cooler" anyway as they have their own taco bar!

So there’s that version.

I have been doing a lot of reading over the past few months on artificial colorings, dyes, preservatives, etc. and I’m now of the mind that “less is definitely more!”  Just yesterday, I was reading an article in the May/June 2010 issue of Well Being Journal titled, “ADHD Increase Linked to Modern Diet,” by Jane Hersey, pages 16 – 17.  In the article, Jane sited some research by Sanford C. Newmark, M.D., from the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine:

Research has shown a consistent relationship to the intake of artificial colors and/or preservatives on the symptoms of ADHD or hyperactivity.

After describing two large British studies linking food dyes and preservatives with hyperactivity, including one that was published in the Lancet, he concluded,

One can see how the intake of these substances could ‘shift’ in a positive direction the proportion of children diagnosed with ADHD.

The article went on to credit the late Ben Feingold, M.D. for first discovering the link between artificial food additives and hyperactivity.  I just read an article on the Feingold Association website pertaining to ezcema and ADD.  Seems that children with excema are far more likely to develop ADD (Wow, I didn’t know that.  I really encourage you to check out the Feingold Association website, there is some very interesting information on it, that only further demonstrates the negative effects of processed food on our health).  Funny, I had ezcema as a child and was diagnosed with Adult ADD about a year ago.  Luke also suffers from severe ezcema (worse than mine was as a child).  Hmmm…

Another startling fact that was mentioned in the article was the dramatic increase in American consumption of artificial dyes.  Consumption of these dyes has increased almost threefold since the 1980’s, rising from about 6.4  million pounds in 1985 to more than 17.8 million pounds in 2005!!

Last quote from the article that I want to mention, and I think it is very important that all parents think about this:

Newmark pointed out that since more and more families have two working parents, family meals increasingly consist of processed (additive-laden) foods.  “It is hard to know just when a Pop-Tart became an acceptable breakfast, but it often is.  School lunches are abysmal, with an unacceptably high intake of processed foods and [denatured] saturated fats.”

I just looked at my boys after reading the article and thought to myself, “They deserve better.  They have their entire lives ahead of them and I do not want to burden them with health problems (ironically, the very ones I have!), that I can control by simple diet modification.”  That’s right, I am the one who can potentially alter the course of their life and health by taking the time to think about what I am putting into their mouths.  While we already have the benefit of being a gluten-free family (which means we cannot eat most processed foods like Pop-Tarts, but there are obviously still many products like Jello and Koolaid that we can technically have, but probably shouldn’t!).

Needless to say, the rest of my Jello stash went into the trash, as did my remaining Koolaid stash (okay, I’ll admit it…  I was actually the closeted Koolaid drinker! 😉 ).

I have been experimenting with making my own “jello” from natural juice and pectin (the grape turned out to be a kickin’ Grape Jelly without added sugar or HFCS, but it really didn’t taste like Jello.  I have yet to try juice with gelatin, but I have that one on my short list.  I did however, find a really cool new product (new to me anyway) on a recent shopping excursion to my local co-op: Natural Desserts by the NutraDrink Company!!  Check this out from their website:

Natural Desserts’ line of flavored and unflavored Dessert Jels are a truly unique line of gluten free, vegan, dairy free, Kosher dessert jells that are truly indistinguishable from gelatin, yet are manufactured using an exclusive blend of vegetable gums.  Perfect as a simple dessert all by itself, or marvelous for use in the most elaborate mold.

They even have pudding!!  I have yet to find the pudding in my local store, but I am definitely on the hunt. 😀

So, I re-made the oranges with the All-Natural Strawberry flavored Jel Dessert:

This product is still high in sugar, so moderation is key.

We really liked these quite a bit, even though Sam is still hung up on the green Jello. Wonder if I could make a spinach/apple combo juice and just add the unflavored Jel for a natural and healthy green color?? He might disown me... but it's worth a try! 😀

Update: At the suggestion of Deanna, I just submitted this recipe to the May “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free” monthly recipe roundup (it’s a Jello theme for May), being hosted by Mrs. Ed’s Research and Recipes.  This is my first time participating in this monthly event and I am so happy that Deanna mentioned it to me, because it introduced me to a new blog that I am excited to read.  Anyone can participate in this blog carnival, you do not need to be a blogger to join in on the fun!  The “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free” blog carnival was created by Naomi Devlin over at “Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried.”  What a fun way to make cooking at home an even more rewarding experience.  It’s like sitting at the kitchen table, swapping gluten-free recipes and the stories behind them, with great friends over a hot cup of coffee.  🙂


  1. Jenny Manseau says

    How fun!! Such a brilliant idea, I need to pass this on to my sister, my nephew would love this. You are such a rockstar.

  2. What fun! You should so send that in for the Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free May roundup. (The theme is jello.)

  3. If you come up with a good homemade Jello dessert…Please let us know! Again you come up with the most inventive lunches 🙂 Oh and by the way…My sister did test positive for TTgs.

    • Oh wow, Anna. How is your sister doing?

      I am working on putting my own "celiac story" together and I am running into some rather interesting (and confusing!) information. I have sent off for some medical records from my childhood and am seeking some experts to explain a few things to me… this quest has only further proved to me that there is a "spectrum of gluten-sensitivity" that reaches far beyond the gold-standard of celiac disease.

      Wish I had a medical degree! 😉

      I will keep you updated on the homemade jello!

  4. tastyeatsathome says

    How cool! Your lunches are so awesome-looking. Wish you packed my lunch! I'm not really a fan of jello, but I love this idea.

  5. That is soooo cool!!! I am going to do this with all those oranges we get from LPO.

    • Kristen…

      What do you think of LPO's new program? I don't know about you but I changed up my order this time (added a LOT more stuff). They left my food on the porch in Coleman coolers!! Real coolers, no Styrofoam or even just a box. I'm Super impressed!

      I was looking at everything I ordered, (it would have EASILY filled a grocery cart at Whole Foods)… only $63.00! I don't think I have ever gotten out of Whole Foods for under $100. Not to mention the gas mileage for me to get up there!

      And now the free delivery for orders over $38… Woo-Hoo!

      BTW, Luke FREAKED over the Ellyvan invitation, thank you so very much. I may still end up with Word World as the theme… it would be a much easier cake!

  6. Ashley Dice says

    Thanks for helping keep my kids lunches fun I have three kids and pack thier lunches everday have to( no hot lunch)@ school but that is a blessing for cealiacs I get so caught up in just healthy stuff my Kids think I'm lame so I need to relax thank you for a clean fun snack (clean meaning no bad stuff)

    • You're so welcome Ashley! You know, why can't our kids eat healthy AND have fun? I think finding that balance where they are happy and we are happy is the key to making it work long term. I strongly believe that if we don't bend a little here and there (or find that "happy medium," we may be setting ourselves up for trouble later down the road! 😉

      • Ashley Dice says

        I Agree I'm a product of hippy grind your own grain no candy soda chips that backfired when I went to collage so I will let my kids treat up sometimes 🙂

  7. Yay! I am so excited that you found this jello! And that it is "crap" free. =0) the whole adhd, add thing is why we went gluten free and also got rid of all the other stuff (preservatives, artificial colors, HFCS, etc.) we don't have any of that in our home any more and oh boy the difference is amazing! I'll have to check out the jello. I have a Lego mold begging to be filled with jello. Here's a picture of it. =0)

  8. Heidi you are amazing! I don't know how you have the energy for all that you do!

    • Renee,

      Did you miss my ADD diagnosis in my post?? Between that and the medication I take for it, you will find my "energy!" And maybe a few too many cups of coffee. 😉

  9. How creative!! I love this idea! Heidi, your kids are lucky to have you for a mom!


  10. Great thinking! At first, I didn't think we could use your recipe since we're dye free (and gluten free and soy free). I hadn't seen the dye free jello substitute. I think I'll give it a shot, thanks for the cool idea!

    • You are welcome Casey. Can I ask why you are dye-free?

      I am relatively new to learning about the negative health effects of food dyes and would love to learn more. It really hit me during my cake decorating classes, as I would use color gel concentrates to color my icing. It took almost an entire jar of black dye to color 1 cup of icing… I spilled some on my cutting board and it is STILL there (despite numerous scrubbing attempts) and it has been almost two months! That really made me start to "ask the next question!" 😉

      I am compiling photos for a cupcake series I will be doing on my new blog (this blog, just re-designed and moved to a new blogging platform) later this month. I will be sharing a bunch of ideas to add "bling" without the artificial colorings, so keep an eye out!

      • Can't wait to read about your naturally dyed cupcake ideas. I use India Tree food coloring (Whole Foods and Amazon both have it) but it's not cheap! The colors turn out more pastel but my kids don't seem to mind.

        We went dye free late last year after discovering that my 3 year old's severe behavioral problems were dye related. He had never had candy before and his teachers were giving him Skittles at school as potty training incentives. He became more and more aggressive and defiant and was violent toward his younger sister. After a huge meltdown around Halloween, I started doing research and found a bunch of articles on the effects of artificial dyes and behavior in some children. The violent behaviors stopped within a week of going dye free. I wrote all about our experiences over on my blog if you're interested..

  11. I suspect that the dyes and other artificial additives only get through the gut barrier and into the bloodstream in response to elevated zonulin release due to immune reactions to gluten.

    Cutting out all the contaminants would mitigate symptoms but gluten should also be eliminated to halt the increased intestinal permeability that is allowing the dyes and other chemicals to leak into the bloodstream.

  12. Thanks, Dr. Hoggan. Your knowledge and perspective on these issues is really valuable to all of us. Please feel free to leave a comment any time; I know my readers will appreciate your insight.

  13. wow, I've never seen anything like that!

  14. Kelly,

    These are just too cute! Thank you for submitting them!!!

  15. Those look SO good. I would make them for ME. 😀


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  2. […] I tried a product by the NutraDrink company called Natural Jel Desserts back in May (see my “Funny Oranges post”) and while I was initially impressed with the product, upon further experimentation I […]