I have to admit that being a mother to a child who is sensitive to food dye had its moments of disappointment. I grew up in a home where we were blessed to eat homemade dinners almost every night. That didn’t mean, however, that our home didn’t contain the staples of Top Ramen, Kraft Mac&Cheese, processed cheese slices and Cambell’s soup concentrate. My mom did a good job feeding us considering that I don’t think we ever questioned the quality of the ingredients in mainstream marketed food products. We used to take dye and add it to food for fun. Like blue pancakes or green mac&cheese. In fact, I used to do the same fun things for little kids I used to babysit not having any idea that dye mattered. It just never occured to me.
That changed with my daughter. We discovered artificial food dye just wasn’t going to be allowed in our home for the mental health and sanity of us all. It turns out we are not the only ones affected by this chemical sensitivity and even the Lancet came out with a November 2007 study (random, double-blind and placebo controlled) that links hyperactivity to artificial chemicals and preservatives. We have had to be more creative in the types of sweets and treats we allow our daughter to have. This past Halloween was interesting in that I found all dye-free candy to give to her to replace the Halloween candy she got from Church during our Trunk-or-Treat.
I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I discovered natural food coloring prior to Camden’s third birthday. She wanted pink and purple cupcakes and I was pondering on how to make them. Lo and behold, I came across India Tree’s natural food dye. I purchased my set on Amazon.com.
India Tree’s food dye is vegetable based and contains no corn syrup or synthetic dyes. The pitfalls are that you will be hard pressed to get any primary looking colors out of this dye. At the most magenta is about as close as you will get to “red”. It is also pretty pricey.
However, for people like me this is just a wonderful alternative. It was wonderful to make my little girl fun homemade cupcakes for her Birthday and to make traditional frosted sugar cookies for Christmas or to dye easter eggs for Easter. We are pretty devastated right now because we can’t find our India Tree dye, we lost it sometime over Christmas so we’ll keep looking for it. Wish us luck! Here are Camden’s Birthday Cupcakes.
India Tree also carries a variety of natural dyed decorating sugars. However, they are not the only company offering synthetic free alternatives. The following companies also offer natural dyes.
Seelect – Colors are sold separately.
If you don’t have the money to purchase any of these products there are also helpful sites that offer foodsource alternatives for getting the color you need. Here is one site.
Also, we found sprinkles that are colored with natural dye as well and we love them! We’ve also used chocolate candy coated sunflower seeds (purchased at Trader Joe’s)t o use as sprinkles on ice-cream.
Please let me know if you know of any other natural food dye brands and I will post them.