Marshmallows are a longtime family favorite. Often considered a staple for camping trips, hot cocoa, Thanksgiving classics, and desserts, these sugary treats aren’t doing you any favors. Even though marshmallows are fat-free, they are packed full of refined sugar.
One regular marshmallow contains about 4 grams of added sugar. But as many of us know, very rarely do we eat a single marshmallow. For instance, a cup of mini marshmallows for a desert recipe or to top hot chocolate contains a whopping 29 grams of sugar. This translates to over 400 empty calories and exceeds the recommended daily amount by nearly 10 grams. Yikes!
Health Risks of Refined Sugar
Preliminary studies have linked diets high in refined sugars to negative effects on the brain such as declined neuroplasticity and memory ability. Plus, the greater percentage of your diet that’s filled with large amounts of sugary foods, the less room in your diet there is for vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Refined sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup have also been directly related to long-term health problems. In fact, eating too much processed sugar has been linked to the following:
- Heart disease
- Several cancers, like pancreatic cancer
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Food addictions
Healthy Marshmallow Recipe
These fluffy honey-sweetened homemade marshmallows will deliver all the flavor but none of the health-compromising refined sugar. Plus, these can be made in a coconut or chocolate version (see below) based on the recipes plans or preferences. This simple recipe will make you wonder why you ever bought marshmallows at the store. But remember, sugar that comes from whole foods like honey or fruit is still sugar, so remember to eat these as a treat, not a regular snack.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin (or agar agar for a vegan option)
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Lightly grease a loaf pan. Then cover with parchment paper (with enough to hang over the sides of the pan one way), then grease the parchment paper.
- Put ¼ cup of water in a medium bowl (or in the bowl of a mixer with attached whisk) , and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Set aside to soften.
- In a small pot, place the honey, salt, and the other ¼ cup of water. Heat on medium heat. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 240 degrees. (Because this is such a small amount of liquid, I had a hard time getting an accurate temperature. You can also test it by dribbling a little of the liquid into a bowl of ice cold water. It should be in the candy stage of forming little soft balls when cooled in the water and taken out. It takes about 7-8 minutes to reach this temperature. ). Remove from the heat as soon as it’s at the right temperature.
- Using a hand mixer on low, very carefully mix in the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture by pouring the hot syrup in a drizzle down the side of the bowl. Once it’s all combined, add the vanilla and increase speed to high. Beat for 12- 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and fluffy (it will look like marshmallow fluff). Scrap into the prepared pan and leave, uncovered, for 4-12 hours to dry. It’s just about perfect in my climate when left overnight. Cut into squares, serve as is.
Coconut Version: Toast about ½ cup of coconut flakes, unsweetened. Sprinkle ½ of it on the bottom of the pan, scrap in the marshmallow mixture, and sprinkle with the rest of the coconut flakes.
Cocoa Version: Roll finished and cut marshmallows in cocoa powder.