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Natural Food Dyes

For a fun (and healthy) cooking project, try making food coloring at home! Kids may be surprised to learn that the first paints and pigments in history were made from many of the plants and minerals around us. 

These fruit- and veggie-based dyes not only make beautiful food art, but they’re also packed with lots of healthy nutrients (and no artificial chemicals). That’s a win for kids and parents! Keep reading for easy recipes that span a rainbow of colors.

Pink:

  • Wash, dry, and peel one raw, red beet. Using a vegetable peeler (or knife if you prefer), cut several long, thin slices, and add them to frosting, mashed potatoes or pretty much anything! Stir for several minutes to let the color mix in, and add more slices of beet as needed. When you like the color, pick out the beet pieces with a spoon, and … voila!
  • Baking for a long time may change beet-dyed color so you may want to stick to things like frosting, mashed potatoes, and pancake batter.

Yellow:

  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of powdered turmeric in ½ cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the liquid down about halfway and you’re done! 
  • Add in very small amounts to your food and mix to get the right hue. 
  • Turmeric can have a bitter taste, but the boiling will help. Still, use it very sparingly and only for savory dishes.

Blue:

  • Lightly mash 1 cup of blueberries and squeeze through a cheesecloth, nut bag, or clean white T-shirt into a bowl, adding a little water if needed to create a blue dye. Mix in one teaspoon at a time until you’ve got the right hue of blue. Best for desserts. 

Green:

  • Throw one bunch of washed spinach in a blender, adding a little water if needed. Squeeze the mixture through a cheesecloth or other strainer into a bowl and you’ve gone green!
  • Spinach makes a light green so you may need to use more than the other dyes to achieve the color you want. 
  • Luckily, the flavor is so mild, you can add it to most anything.
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