Saturday, March 19, 2016

Dyeing Easter Eggs (and much more!) With Natural Food Dyes: How-To video

Image from : Martha Stewart Online


Easter is coming up and we just started Spring Break.... so what do I have planned for next 2 week?

Among, many many activities will be our annual Easter egg dyeing afternoon. My boys love dyeing and decorating their Easter eggs and this year I have decided to give natural food dyes a chance.


I am totally inspired by this how-to video from Whole Foods - they make it seem so easy!

Plus, more importantly, we can use any of these techniques for dyeing foods in the future instead of resorting to unhealthy traditional artificial food colors.... my kiddos will not be eating the Easter eggs we decorate but they will be eating the birthday cakes or Holiday cookies etc we bake with food coloring throughout the year.


What is wrong with artificial colors in foods?

While eating a cookie or cupcake with artificial food dyes in the icing on certain holidays is fine, the problem with artificial food dyes is that they are so darn pervasive in most American's diets- and guess what? They might not be good for your child's mental health.

Why?

  • Artificial food dyes are made from petroleum (disgusting!) 
  • Studies have linked food coloring to behavioral problems in children, including hyperactivity (this is still inconclusive, the FDA still maintains they are safe, since there are studies that have found no links between artificial food dyes and hyperactivity) 
  • The European Union requires food labels indicating that a product contains any one of six dyes . The label reads that the item "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." 
The worse part? They are found in almost all processed foods now a days - especially food targeted towards young children: everything from yogurt to potato chips to soft drinks to cereal to pickles and bread and gummies contain food dyes. If you eat a typical highly processed American diet, chances are you and your kids are getting a large amount of artificial food coloring on a daily basis.


How can you avoid artificial food dyes?

Healthy Child Healthy World lists these Tips on how to best avoid unhealthy synthetic food dyes

  • Choose organic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not permit the use of artificial colors in foods it certifies as organic. If your organic yogurt is blue, it contains something naturally blue, like blueberries. 
  • Limit packaged foods, especially those marketed to kids. If a food product looks suspiciously bright or colorful, leave it on the shelf. 
  • Read labels carefully. Artificial colors can pop up in unexpected places, including items that are not brightly colored, such as dried fruit snacks. Avoid products that list FD&C dyes or the words “artificial color” on the label. 
  • Tell your kids. Talk to your children, especially older ones, about making healthy food choices. If they watch television and see food ads, discuss these commercials and what appeals to them about a particular food. 

And then there is today's #5: use real food to make your own natural food dyes!


See the video provided by Whole Foods to see how!




Natural Food Dye Recipes (thanks Martha Stewart for the specs!)


Instructions: Select a dyeing agent (see below), and place it in the pot using the amount listed below. Add 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar to pot; if more water is necessary to cover ingredients, proportionally increase the amount of vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Allow the ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into a bowl.



Red-cabbage dye: 4 cups chopped cabbage
Turmeric dye: 3 tablespoons turmeric
Onion-skin dye: 4 cups onion skins (skins of about 12 onions)
Beet dye: 4 cups chopped beets
Coffee dye: 1 quart strong black coffee (instead of water)



And if this is all too overwhelming or time consuming, you can always buy natural food coloring in some stores or online. Making your own will always be ideal because you decide and see exactly what goes into it, however I know parents are oftentimes (is that an understatement?!) pressed for time, so here are some other options:


India Tree Natural Decorating Colors, 3 bottles(red,yellow,blue)

Confection Crafts are available online and at Whole Foods

Maggie's Naturals  are available online and also sell sprinkles

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