Monday, April 29, 2013

Color Me Green

Food dye causes (ahem) diarrhea.   Did she really just say that word on her blog?  Yes.  Yes, I did.  As long as I'm blogging about being healthy inside and out I will post my experiences, good and bad, as I learn about the wonderful world of processed foods.  Don't worry, I'm not sharing details on this specific incident.  You all have experienced it yourself I'm sure!

My eyes have been opened up to all sorts of un-natural habits we humans have gotten into over the last century. Though I've been gradually getting rid of all our processed junk in the kitchen, things keep popping up that I have never thought twice about in the past.  Like, for instance, food dye or food coloring.  This has been a staple for many Pinterest-inspired food treats.  Like these for example:

These little gems were perfect to help us celebrate Earth day and get my kids excited about learning how to take care of our planet.  And they were very tasty too with very little frosting on them.  However, they had one really bad side effect.  You guessed it.  I have never noticed this before but that might be because I have never used as much dye as I used in those cupcakes.  My ENTIRE family was suffering that day and I couldn't figure out why until my husband said, "honey, it must be your cupcakes."  But how?  It was a recipe I'm sure I've used before or at least very similar.  Nothing bad right?  Later on it hit me.  The food dye!  That had to be it.  It was the only thing different.  And the color of the stoo... well you don't need to know that part.  Lets just say it was pretty obvious what the culprit was.

So I did what I always do... googled the dangers of food coloring.  There was plenty of information out there to make me a little nervous about using it in excess in the future.  Or maybe even using it at all.  I was surprised by the sheer number of foods that use color additives simply for looks. Some were not surprising though like Kraft macaroni, Cheetos, and Mountain Dew.  Most "kids" packaged foods have tons of dye and almost every soda pop has it in there.  Whats worse... it's used to color our produce.  Citrus Red #2 is injected into oranges to give them the perfect orange color to be displayed in the supermarket.  Yet another reason to buy organic.  I read that a lot of food coloring is made from petroleum - like what we put in our cars.  Gross!  It's nice to know that by staying away from processed foods I am also staying away from the artificial colors.

Not all food coloring is created the same and there are plenty of natural options out there from bottled food coloring to simple ways to color your food using other foods or spices.  This site had some great ideas on how to color food naturally.  And I know from experience that spinach makes a great green dye and does NOT add a lot of extra flavor. I'm not done with food dye for good.  There are too many cool recipes out there for me to try.  But I will certainly be more careful about what I color our food with from now on!

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