December is probably one of the biggest months to bake with all of the holiday and cookie parties out there. I love it all but what I don’t necessarily love are all the harmful chemicals and yuckies that go into those baked goods. For example, have you ever looked at the ingredients in food coloring? I mean, did you know that most red food colorings are derived from insects? And how about FD & C Red No. 3 which are “suspect” to be carcinogenic and is found in canned fruit, candy, ice cream, maraschino cherries, snack foods, pudding, gelatin desserts, sausage casing, popsicles, and cake and cookie icing. Or FD&C Red No. 32 which was used to color Florida oranges before it was discovered to be highly toxic in studies done on rats and dogs. Aren’t oranges naturally orange? Why do they need to add more color to them? Yikes! I sure wouldn’t want any of my loved ones chowin’ down on that!
It makes me sad to think that so many people out there are putting harmful ingredients into their precious bodies (unbeknownst to them) when there are so many awesome and MUCH healthier alternatives to add pretty colors to your baked goodies. Today I’m going to share a list that will cover the rainbow spectrum and possibly add a little fun into your diet. It’s safe and easy and to me, that means way more then mere convenience. Plus, if you have little kiddos, they’ll love when you add a little natural color to their rice or mash potatoes. I’m thinking pink!
Here is a pretty good list but of course, if you think of something else please share in the comments!
Beets: If you’ve ever peeled a beet you know just how red, purple or orange they really are by the way they turn your fingers colors. Either juice your beets with a juicer and use a small amount of the natural beets juice (about a teaspoon at a time since it is so concentrated) to frosting, cakes, or anything you want to add a fun flair to.
Strawberries and Cherries: Not only will these beauties leave whatever you’re adding them too tasting delicious, they add the perfect hint of red or pink.
Paprika: Dissolve a little powder in some water and you got yourself a perfect color. Start with a little first then add more as needed as it may alter the taste a bit.
Carrots: Juice these guys up or use the boiling water method described below.
Saffron: Known for centuries for it’s medicinal properties as an antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-oxidant, digestive, and anti-convulsant, also has an incredibly rich yellow color and a tiny bit goes a very long way!
Turmeric: Another INCREDIBLE medicinal herb. I’m serious, I could go on and on and on about this wonderful deep yellow powdery substance (and maybe I will in another post). Again, a little goes a long way and as amazing as it is, it stains wooden utensils and other things if you aren’t careful.
Beets: See above
Kale or Spinach: Juice or boil these babies and you got yourself the perfect shade of green!
Asparagus Powder: A great food coloring alternative packed with a nutritious punch.
Blueberries/Blackberries: These guys will add a great flavor to anything you add them too. Plus, it’s a great way to get more fruit in your diet!
Red Cabbage: Boiled or juiced and you got yourself a deep purple hue to add to frosting or cakes or anything else for that matter!
If you are interested in using the boiling method to add coloring to your foods it’s as simple as can be. You simple boil the food in water (covered) for about an hour then use the water by adding it to whatever you needed colored. It’s important to know that this method wont give you a deep color though, only a hint of the color. If you are looking for vibrancy, I would recommend juicing the fruit or vegetable then straining the juice to get out any pulp.
I think the most important thing is to get creative and try to stay away from preservative and additive laden packaged food coloring. All it takes are baby steps to a healthier life.