Tuesday, May 22, 2012

To "Dye" For

I've been thinking lately. About artificial dyes. In foods. I saw a shocking post about how familiar big-name companies have dye-free versions of their products in other countries, like the U.K., but continue to put them in the same foods for US consumption. These huge companies have already gone to the expense of finding safer alternatives and implementing them into their products for other countries - but can't be bothered to change over the US versions!
And while my daughter's behavior doesn't seem too extreme to me, reducing or completely removing the artificial dyes from her diet can't possibly be a bad thing. Giving her fewer potentially harmful artificial additives? Reason enough to start the switch. And if it affects her behavior in any kind of positive way, even better!
Other than those hidden in foods (blueberry waffles with no actual blueberries, anyone?) it should be fairly easy to weed them out of her treats. Holidays will be a little tougher, since people will want to give her candy. And what will I do now with my precious stash of artificially-colored sprinkles?

I know I can make my own colored sugars fairly easily, so I just have to get my hands on some natural food dyes (NaturalCandyStore.com and Chocolate Craft Kits have some.) But I've been collecting various confetti quins shaped sprinkles to fit various themes; all chock-full of artificial colors! How to replace those? That's been a major road-block to committing to this dye-free goal. I just can't give up my cute sprinkles! But I found a recipe for making my own! And one for making my own jimmies too! (There's a vegan version too, if you're concerned about the raw eggs.)

I found an awesome online candy store where everything they sell is free from artificial dyes and colors, preservatives, flavors, and sweeteners, as well as free from hydrogenated oils. They even have a section where their items are grouped for special dietary needs, such as vegan or allergen-safe. So this will help out for holidays and birthday treats.

I know Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers use natural food dyes already. And Annie's Homegrown makes dye-free bunnies crackers and gummies. Plus I now know how to make my own dye-free fruit juice gummies (you can use agar to make a vegetarian version, but I don't know the ratios.) Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are all dye-free as well.

We can replace her cheap-o dessert popsicles with home-made fruit-juice ones, for when my arch-nemesis the Ice Cream Truck rolls by too.

Dye-Free Bento Inspirations
Karen from What's in John's Lunch Bag has been using the powdered food dyes from Chocolate Craft Kits to make amazing painted lunch creations for her son, and they look astounding! (Here's a link to her tutorial, but she used artificial dyes for that one.

All of the amazing lunches at Veggie-Bento and Pink 'N Punchy Lunches are artificial-dye-free, so be sure to check them out for more ideas, resources, and recipes! I know I will!

The hard part will be to get Hubby on board. He doesn't see the need for it, behavior-wise. And it will be hard for us both to give up our M-and-Ms. So I can't commit us to a completely dye-free lifestyle. But I am aiming for a lower-dye lifestyle, where possible. Then I don't have to be completely uptight about it, if she gets something at school.*
*Not that parents who get upset when their child is accidentally given a banned food are uptight. Whatever their reasons for restrictive diets; allergies, behavior, lifestyle, or religion; they are entitled to make that choice and expect it to be respected to the best of everyone's ability. I just mean since it isn't a serious issue for us, we don't have to take it as seriously for ourselves.


  1. This is something that I have struggled with for a long time. I think it is a good thing to avoid the dyes, but it is soooo hard. They put them in everything! I am like you. I really don't want to be one to make a big fuss about it at school. There are plenty of other things there to fuss about! lol.

  2. When we were teaching chromatography at USASEF, a lot of people were surprised to see that brown M&M's have red dye (and yellow and blue). They thought, like the character in The Wedding Planner, that brown M&M's were better because the coating was made from chocolate. Nope. One mom even had kids with red dye sensitivity, and had always told them to eat the brown ones instead. I was glad that we talked to her!


Go ahead! Tell me how awesome I am. Or ask a question. Whatever.

(Please note that I had to disable Anonymous comments. Too many spam comments coming through the filters.)