These vegan strawberry (heart) beet gummies swap out gelatin in favor of veg-friendly agar agar powder. They’re sweet, fruity, and nourishing with just a hint of beet and a pop of lemon. To make them, strawberry-beet purée is whisked with filtered water, agar powder, and fresh lemon juice. The mixture is heated to a rolling boil to thicken, and then poured into heart-shaped molds (or whichever shape your own heart desires). ♥
Before we hop to the recipe, I have an exciting announcement to share with you all. That said, if you’re looking to cut straight to the strawberry-beet gummy goodness (I feel you), go on and scroll down to the recipe—no hard feelings.
After what has felt like years of keeping it a secret, I’m thrilled to finally share the news that Dan and I are expecting our first little one in early December. We couldn’t be happier, and after 10 years together, we feel so ready to tackle this new adventure in our lives.
I’m nearly 18 weeks along at this point, which is crazy because the time since we found out the news (March 22nd) has passed both quickly and slowly. Up until just a couple weeks ago, I (like so many pregnant women) was engaged in an ongoing struggle with all-day nausea. Morning sickness? HA. That lighthearted term now makes my skin crawl, because it’s so far from the truth. 24/7 sickness is more like it.
I consider myself to be a pretty tough cookie when it comes to pain and discomfort, but there were days when the nausea was so intense and relentless that my only method of coping was to curl up on the couch and cry.
Given how entangled both my life and career are with cooking, one of the first questions many of my friends and relatives have asked as we’ve been sharing the news in recent weeks is, “How were you able to recipe test when you were feeling sick?” Great question.
For most of the first trimester, I had strong aversions to most vegetables but especially greens, avocado (technically a fruit, but you know), garlic, and onion. Just the smell of garlic sent me running from the kitchen, so testing this recipe amid the chaos was an interesting experience to say the least. I ran out of the kitchen on several occasions and could barely stomach standing over the dish long enough to photograph it.
Needless to say, after that, I vowed to stick to what was safe: sweet foods. Early on, fruit (especially strawberries—one week, I ate 4 pounds in 4 days) and cookies were about the only thing that sounded halfway decent. Mostly though, I would just open the pantry/refrigerator and stare into a nausea-inducing abyss until I ultimately realized that toast, yet again, was the safest bet.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the uptick in sweet recipes around here over the last few months. Yeah? Welp, they were allll brought to you from the creative depths of “morning” sickness and food aversions.
As the first trimester wound down though, I finally began to crave vegetables and greens again. If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember a time a few weeks back when chopped salads took over my stories feed. I swear, for a week straight, I ate massive chopped veggie salads with homemade seeded ranch dressing both noon and night. And because I’m totally a basic pregnant lady, those chopped salads (of course) included about half a jar of chopped dill pickles each.
But don’t you worry, the sweet cravings have held steadfast as well, and along with the hankering for cookies and fruit, in moved an intense craving for gummies and fruit snacks.
Only problem? Most gummy candies and fruit snacks are made with gelatin, which isn’t vegan or vegetarian. Fortunately, more and more brands are moving to veg-friendly versions that contain agar or tapioca starch, but it can still be a bit difficult to find those varieties in grocery stores.
So, as the saying goes: If at first you fail to find vegan gummies in the grocery store, try, try to make your own. Or something like that.
And so I did. I’ve been making these little strawberry-beet gummy jewels for the past few weeks and am happy to finally be sharing the recipe with you.
The recipe can be used to form gummies of any shape or size, but in honor of the occasion, I chose hearts. Why? Because hearing our little one’s heartbeat for the first time was one of the most special, life-shifting sorts of moments.
The feeling of love was so intense and immediate that it caught me off-guard, especially because there was a time not too long ago when I wasn’t sure I wanted kids. Let’s just say Dan was confident and ready long before I was.
To be totally honest, I had spent years being paralyzed by the ticking clock and looming decision for a variety of reasons. I worried that the hormonal shifts during (and after) pregnancy might send me slipping back into the anxiety I’ve worked so hard to confront and tame over the last decade. I fretted that becoming a mom meant I had to trade in my identity as a career-loving business woman. I questioned how having kids would affect my relationship with Dan.
As if those concerns weren’t enough to handle on their own, spending years reading and writing hundreds of psychological reports about all the things that can and do go wrong within the human psyche doesn’t exactly tame a person’s fears about child-rearing.
But as I’ve immersed myself more deeply in meditation in recent years, I’ve learned to acknowledge and separate out the fears of my ego from the deeper, more meaningful callings of my intuition. Through this process, my heart began to open, my mind began to trust, and those worries began to fade away. It was a slow unfolding from fear to trust, but a powerful one indeed.
One day while meditating last fall, the slowly evolving release of those fears culminated in one life-changing instant. I was following a guided meditation, one in which you’re encouraged to envision your future self—your ideal self—about five years off in the distance. To my surprise, a vision I hadn’t expected immediately and vividly came to mind: I was walking up to a stage to speak to an empowered group of women and as I looked down, a confident little girl with soft curls in her hair outstretched her hand towards mine and said, “Come on, mommy. You can do it.”
Tears streamed down my face as I finished the meditation, and from that moment on, I knew that whether or not the fear returned, I was meant to be a mother. The vision also reassured me that I didn’t have to trade in one identity for another; I could maintain all my current identities and simply add a new one.
And as the universe would have it, we’re having a little girl. Only time will tell if she grows to have soft curls in her hair…
Strawberry (Heart) Beet Gummies
These vegan strawberry (heart) beet gummies swap out gelatin in favor of veg-friendly agar agar powder. They're sweet, fruity, and nourishing with just a hint of beet and a pop of lemon. To make them, strawberry-beet purée is whisked with filtered water, agar powder, and fresh lemon juice. The mixture is heated to a rolling boil to thicken, and then poured into heart-shaped molds (or whichever shape your own heart desires).
- 1/2 cup cool filtered water
- 2–3 teaspoons agar agar powder (not flakes) (*see note)
- 1 cup hulled strawberries
- 2 tablespoons finely diced raw beet**
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Prepare two silicon molds. I used molds with small heart shapes but feel free to use what you have—gummy bear molds, gummy worm molds, etc. all work great. If you don't have gummy molds, simply line a small to medium pan (smaller for thicker gummies and larger for thinner gummies) with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the filtered water and agar agar powder. Set aside for 5 minutes to begin to dissolve the agar.
Meanwhile, add the strawberries and beet to a food processor. Process until a smooth purée forms, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Place a sieve or fine mesh colander over a bowl and run the purée through the strainer, using a spatula or spoon to press it through. You want to catch the smooth, fruity liquid in the bowl and separate out any fibrous fruit pieces and seeds.
Add the smooth fruit purée to the saucepan (the one with the agar mixture) along with the maple syrup and lemon juice, and whisk to incorporate. Heat over low heat, and bring the mixture to a rapid boil. Once the agar agar is fully dissolved and the mixture just begins to thicken, remove the pan from the heat.
Use a heat-safe eye dropper or spoon to fill the molds (or the prepared pan) with the gummy mixture. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for as long as needed to set the gummies (e.g., about 5 minutes for smaller molds, longer for a pan).
- Remove the gummies from the mold. Alternatively, if you're using a pan, lift the solidified gummy from the pan and slice into squares.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
*For a slightly softer gummy, use 2 teaspoons agar powder. For a slightly firmer gummy (that sets quickly), use 3 teaspoons agar powder. I prefer the softer gummies (pictured) with 2 teaspoons agar powder, but both options work great.
**If you're feel extra beet-y, go on and add up to a 1/3 cup diced beet. The color of the gummies will deepen, and they'll be a little less sweet but they'll have a richer beet flavor.
Keep in mind that agar agar powder yields a very different texture than gelatin. Rather than being springy or chewy, agar yields gummies that are more tender and breakable (if that makes sense).