Fun Valentine’s Treats for Kids: Artificial Food Dye Free!
Whether you’re motivated by your need to avoid red dyes for your own kids, or you’re a parent charged with bringing a Valentine’s party treat at a school with a no-red-dye policy or no-junk-food policy, this article will provide a few options.
When making these alternatives, note that storage needs of the baked goods will change–when fruit rather than artificial food dyes are used to color icing, the icing needs to be refrigerated.
- Pink iced sugar cookies. Using the quintessential heart-shaped cookie cutter to make the traditional holiday cookie, make the icing in a not-so-conventional way: with fruit rather than food dye. Starting with the basic white frosting recipe asking for powdered sugar and water, add a few raspberries or strawberries to make pale pink icing. For darker shades of pink, use strawberries rather than raspberries, skip the water indicated in the recipe, and add more berries to darken the shade. Adding five strawberries to get a richer color increases the water content so much that, if you add water as well, the end result is so runny it’ll be worthless for icing! It may taste sugar-sweet, but it won’t set up on the cookie. To get creative with the decoration, make multiple shades of red and pink, and even purple (with blueberries or black raspberries). For other ways to make icing, including what to buy to make a dark red, check out Kiwi Magazine’s article http://www.kiwimagonline.com/dyes/
- Red fruit salad. Searching for deep, saturated reds to decorate your Valentine’s spread? Make a fruit salad of only red, or pink and red fresh fruits: watermelon, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates (though not all kids may be able to eat these well), red grapefruit wedges, cherries, etc.
- Red fruit pizza. Just a simple tweak of the familiar fruit recipe, make it Valentine’s Day appropriate with all-red and pink fruits. Try sliced strawberries (heart-shaped when sliced from top to bottom), raspberries, pink grapefruit pieces, cherries (though not the canned Maraschino cherries if you’re trying to avoid artificial red food dye!) to make pretty designs in the holiday colors. The sugar-cookie “crust” can also be shaped into a heart to be more festive. (Note: if making this dessert to avoid all food dyes, consider making the crust from scratch, as many refrigerated cookie doughs in the store may include food dyes, yellow most frequently: http://www.chacha.com/question/how-do-you-make-fruit-pizza-from-scratch)
- Chocolate-chip heart. Yes, The Great American Cookie Company popularized the cake-sized chocolate chip cookie, complete with writing in icing. Make your own at home, even heart shaped. Icing thick enough to pipe can be made with a lot of confectioner’s sugar mixed with red fruits for the color. The liquid content of the fruit tends to thin the icing, so simply add more sugar to thicken; the trade-off is in the shade of the color. Lighter pinks are easiest to achieve this way. For true reds, try tips at http://www.kiwimagonline.com/dyes/
- Iced cupcakes. The red and pink cupcake tradition needn’t be beyond reality for those avoiding red dye 40. Bake the cake as usual (from scratch, not with a boxed mix, as many may come with other food dyes), but try one of the dyed icing alternatives mentioned under this article’s “pink iced cookies” heading or in this Kiwi magazine online article: http://www.kiwimagonline.com/dyes/
Other articles of possible interest: