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Valentines’ Day WITHOUT Food Coloring

As we wrote back in October (Halloween WITHOUT food coloring), it’s possible to have a fun and festive celebration for your favorite holiday without using all sorts of fake food colors.  After all, artificial food colorings and food dyes aren’t all that great for your kids, and in some cases food dyes have even been associated with behavioral problems. (For more thoughts on this issue, check out Spoonfed’s article on “The Color of Trouble.”)

So when you’re planning your Valentine’s treats, step away from the red dye and think about better ways to show your love. Can you make your food in the shape of a heart (like this bread)? Now’s a great time to make use of all of those heart-shaped cookie cutters you’ve been holding on to. Think heart-shaped sandwiches, heart-shaped pancakes, etc.

Even better, why not just stick with foods that are naturally red? If you’re cooking a main course, use tomatoes, red peppers, beets, red chard, and even cranberries or apples to brighten up a pasta, rice, or meat dish. If you’re cooking dessert, fresh fruit is the way to go. Strawberries or raspberries are the perfect delicate topping for just about any dessert. If you need to make frosting, consider coloring it with beet juice, cherry juice, or pureed fresh berries.

Need some inspiration? You can read about this Real Red Food Valentine’s Day Party story from Nourish MD by way of Kid Appeal. The kids’ red food ideas included goji berries, pomegranate seeds, and even dragon fruit.

Need dessert recipes? We’ve got you covered. For cookies, check out these raspberry jam Cut-Out Heart Cookies from Our Big Earth, or these Peanutty Valentine’s Cookies from Heidi’s Recipes. If you like chocolate, check out this Chocolate Raspberry Tart recipe from Dianasaur Dishes.  If you’re not a chocolate fan, try these Mini Frozen Lemon Tarts from One Hungry Mama. If you need a special gluten-free treat, check out this recipe for Gluten-Free No-Food-Coloring Red Velvet Cupcakes from Book of Yum.

And if you don’t want to bake dessert at all, check out these DIY Valentine’s stickers from One Hungry Mama. Just print them out and add them to your favorite fruit. How’s that for natural?

(Photos courtesy of Morguefile)

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8 Responses to Valentines’ Day WITHOUT Food Coloring

  1. Heidi's Recipes February 9, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Thanks for including me! I love the concept of Valentines Without Food Coloring and am already contemplating St. Patrick’s Without Food Coloring for my family.

  2. jenna Food w/ Kid Appeal February 10, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    thanks for the shout out. I got one teacher of two to do the real red food party. My son’s Pre-K teacher decided to go forward with their traditional vday party and added “red fruits that will encourage healthy eating” to a list of carnival food. she will probably snicker when the kids are disinterested in the fruit because of all the sweets.

    for my 1st grader i’m bringing in these adorable pink and white beets in a vinaigrette. http://tinyurl.com/45tr97v

  3. jollytomato February 10, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    Thanks, Heidi and Jenna! I forgot to mention that when we were at Whole Foods over Christmas, they were letting kids decorate cookies with “red” and “green” frosting. The red frosting was colored with beet juice and the green frosting had a faintly veggie taste to it… they told me they had colored them with spinach juice. None of the kids seemed to have the slightest hesitation about eating it, though! Maybe something to consider for St. Patrick’s Day…

  4. Laura @ Family Spice February 14, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Great piece! I admit we periodically use food dyes, but we are definitely using them less and less. I find that the adults are pickier eaters than the kids.

    • jollytomato February 14, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks, Laura!

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