My teenage son walked inside from school the other day, threw his backpack on the kitchen table, and said, “Mom! we need to talk!”
In chemistry class, he’d learned about food dyes and how some countries have banned dyes we’re still using in the United States. It really disturbed him. “We’re putting that stuff into our bodies every day. Think how many things we eat that have fake colors! Fruit snacks, frosting, sprinkles, cookies … basically everything is unnatural!”
Once, a few years back, I myself had gotten on a food dye kick. Having learned the same information as my son, I wanted to protect my kids — and myself — from any long-term consequences of eating unnatural dyes.
But, as with so many things, the fight got me tired. Within a week, I was sick of policing all of our treats, paying the high prices for all-natural foods, and trying to talk my kids into life without their favorite munchies. The struggle seemed to outweigh any short-term benefits, and so I gave up.
The thing is, there are more and more all-natural products on shelves today. There are more recipe ideas from brilliant bloggers dedicated to all-natural health. And, if you learn a few little tricks, it’s easy to get gorgeous rainbow colors using only real food dyes — no fake stuff!
Here’s how to get a rainbow of colors in your kitchen without buying a single tube of fake food dye.
All-Natural Red 1 of 6
How to Get It: pomegranate juice, cranberries, or beets
It’s easy to tint baked goods pink with a bit of pomegranate juice. But blogger Jamie Mormann of Sophistimom discovered a way to make a vibrant, natural red with fresh beets. Her secret? Adding vinegar to the batter.
Get this recipe for all-natural red velvet cake here
All-Natural Orange 2 of 6
How to Get It: baby food carrots, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes
The beautiful orange in this rainbow pancake cake (in fact … ALL of the colors in this cake) come from pureed baby food. Add a spoonful or two of baby food to pancakes, cakes, cupcakes, muffins, or smoothies for a bit of fun color that’s au naturale!
Get the recipe for this no-food-dye rainbow pancake cake here
All-Natural Yellow 3 of 6
How to Get It: butternut squash, orange juice, or turmeric
Snow cones are a fun canvas for natural colors. Typically loaded with sugar and fake dye, Super Healthy Kids shows you her secret for turning snow cones into rainbow snow cones using nothing but pure, natural food. Her pretty yellow color comes from orange juice!
Get the recipe for these all-natural snow cones here
All-Natural Green 4 of 6
How to Get It: matcha powder, kale, spinach, or celery juice
Matcha powder is a great way to get a vibrant green color in cooking and baking. The flavor is mild and grassy, and can be easily masked by other flavors like vanilla and banana. Blogger Kathy Patalsky makes matcha into a gorgeous smoothie. Other easy ways to get green with smoothies? Blend in kale, spinach, or celery juice!
Get the recipe for this matcha green smoothie here
All-Natural Blue 5 of 6
How to Get It: pure blueberry juice or purple cabbage boiled
Blue is one of the hardest colors to create without food dye. But, Chocolate Covered Katie made blue beautifully with a blueberry or two blended into the mix.
Get her recipe for these blue velvet cupcakes here
All-Natural Purple 6 of 6
How to Get It: blueberries, blackberries, beet juice, or blueberry baby food
Purple is an easy one! Blackberries, blueberries, grape juice, beet juice, and pureed blueberry baby food will all lend a purple color to your cooking and smoothie making. Click through to see which of these options got the blogger of Hungry Happenings the beautiful lavender color in this all-natural rainbow cake.
Get the recipe for this all-natural rainbow cake here