I LOVE colours, especially colourful foods. Pink, purple, blue, green, you name it. The more colourful, the more I love eating my food.
And with Easter upon us, colours will be everywhere!
But artificial dyes and colours are pretty disgusting, and I avoid these at all costs. For real! I will not touch anything that has even the slightest hint of colour, or that lists colour as an ingredients (unless naturally sourced). Companies like using them because they are cheap, stable, and brighter than natural colours, and they know that we eat with our eyes as much as with our mouths.
Here’s what I don’t like about traditional food colouring:
- Some of them are known carcinogens
- They have been linked to hyperactivity and behavioural issues in kids
- They can lead to allergy-like reactions and hypersensitivities
- They are petroleum based. Yes, that’s right, petroleum!
Many dyes have been banned from being used in our food products because of their adverse effects, but nine of the currently approved dyes raise health concerns. Three dyes – Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, account for 90% of all dyes used in the food industry. There is evidence that these dyes increase the risk of cancer in animals, hypersensitivity reactions in humans, and hyperactivity as well as behavioural issues in children.
That’s a lot of risk for something non-essential in our food!
To make matters worst, kids are eating much more of these dyes than adult. Cereals, yogurts, flavoured fruit sauces (i.e. apple sauce), crackers, are amongst some of the products many parents are surprised to find out contain colouring agents.
Don’t worry though; life doesn’t have to be boring and colourless. I’m always about finding solutions, and here is a simple way to make your own natural food dye using real food.
1 medium beet
Peel the beet and grate it onto a thin towel or cheesecloth. Squeeze the juice into the frosting or the baked good you are dying until you reach the colour intensity that you want.
¼ tsp spirulina
Mix ¼ tsp of spirulina with 1.5 tsp of water. Add is slowly to the frosting or the baked good you are dying until you reach the colour intensity that you want.
1/2 purple cabbage
Chop up ½ purple cabbage and place it in a pot. Add in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Decrease the temperature and let it simmer for 10 minutes or until there is approximately ½ cup of water left. Keep the water and add to the frosting or the baked good you are dying until you reach the colour intensity that you want.
Tip: to make it blue as opposed to purple, add some baking soda to the liquid until you reach the colour you want.
½ tsp of turmeric or saffron
Simply add the turmeric or saffron to the frosting or the baked good you are dying until you reach the colour intensity that you want. FYI – turmeric and saffron will both add a flavour to your frosting, so use lightly.
Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Food Dyes: A rainbow of risks”. 2010. https://cspinet.org/resource/food-dyes-rainbow-risks