Confessions of a Crunchy Mom


OK. So, I do my best knowing the things that I know to make sound and healthy choices for my family. I try to look at the overall picture and gauge the impact that any one choice may have on my own family or the welfare of those around us. However, a slight glitch must exist in this well intentioned plan of mine.

Here are my confessions…



I adore with wholehearted and unabated compassion Cadbury Mini Eggs. The bag before me says it is Family Size, unfortunately I don’t think it is referring to me and my unborn child but alas I have consumed every morsel. I have forced myself to read the ingredient label and it is as followed:

INGREDIENTS: milk chocolate (sugar; milk; cocoa butter; chocolate; lactose; soy lecithin; PGPR, emulsifier; artificial and natural flavors); sugar; contains 2% or less of: cornstarch; gum acacia; artificial color (yellow 6 lake; blue 2 lake; yellow 5; blue 2; red 40); ethyl vanillin, artificial flavor.

Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, roughly translated it is a bag full of chemical crap. Logically I know this. However, there appears to be a communication gap between the intelligent side of my brain and the “I don’t give a crap, give it to me now” part of my brain. So I continue on popping one chemically laden mini-egg into my mouth one after another, all the while drowning out that obnoxious voice in my head that yells “hypocrite!”



Not a very distant second in line comes my love for Lucky Charms. A definite contraband item in my home. I hide the box behind my pots and pans and sneak out a bowl at night when my daughter is sleeping. I can’t decide when I am at the check-out if I feel worse because the checker thinks I’m letting my three-year-old eat this crap or if I would be more embarrassed for them to know that the entire box is just for me. Even more ironic? I eat my bowl of Lucky Charms bathed in raw milk. Luckily I made my husband promise me that he wouldn’t allow me to buy another box for fear that this baby will come out a rainbow of marshmellowy colors.



I prefer the taste of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese over homemade macaroni & cheese or even the organic Annie’s brand that I allow my daughter to eat. I think I would still prefer a grilled cheese sandwich made with white bread and a Kraft processed cheese slice rather than the 12 grain bread and the Tilamook or raw cheese that I make my family eat now.



Far too much TV gets played in this house. Way too much. My daughter (when two) counted more accurately to ten in Spanish than in English thanks to good ol’ Dora. I actually hate the TV and would be fine without having one and yet somehow, someway, I am persuaded on a daily basis by a tiny little girl that she must watch cartoons. I know I should say “no” but alas, it just doesn’t seem to happen.

So those are my confessions. I am not proud of them but hey, I’m not anywhere near saying “never again” either. I am working on deprogramming my taste-buds and deprogramming my daughter from a world full of animated Spanish speaking creatures but it is not an easy task. Am I the only one out there?


The Natural Dye Alternative


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

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.

Nature’s Flavors – They also give directions on how to use their dyes for Easter Egg coloring.

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.

Let’s Do Sprinklez

Please let me know if you know of any other natural food dye brands and I will post them.