When my son was about 2 1/2 years old and was having melt downs, not just tantrums, we decided to take him off gluten, dairy, additives, colours, flavours and preservatives. He didn’t get a lot of bought stuff anyway, but within a week of doing this his melt downs had stopped. I’ve always believed that natural food is best for the body and here was an observable change in my own son. Researching additives, preservatives, colours and flavours I found that there are a number of them linked to behavioural problems, hyperactivity, asthma and are suspected carcinogens. A fantastic book Additive Alert by Julie Eady, provides great information about these chemicals and how they affect the body and which ones to avoid.
Since then we have particularly tried to minimise the amount of additives, preservatives, colours and flavours the kids ingest. It was really easy when they were young but as they got older and started school they have been exposed to more of the snack/junk foods that are around. Teaching kids about their health and helping them make informed decisions is very important. Jannine found a fantastic app which we have on our phones called Food Additives Maze. Type in the number or the name of the chemical and the app tells you what symptoms and ailments it can trigger, which body systems it effects and more. What I like about this app is that each chemical is classified with a face which is either smiling, frowning or plain so straight away the kids can tell if the chemical in the food is ok. The rule in our house is one or two smiling faces is fine but if there is one additive in the ingredient list that has either a frowning face or plain face then the snack item is a no go. This has allowed the kids to become more involved in the choices they make and I’ve stopped being the one saying “no” to their requests!
I always make a special cake for my kids’ birthdays and this year my daughter wanted a rainbow cake. We had been looking for ideas on the internet and came across a beautiful, vibrantly coloured rainbow cake. Not only was it iced in the rainbow colours it was also rainbow inside with six layers! “This is the one I want Mumma, please can you make it.” How could I refuse? So how do you indulge the fantasy of a little girl who wants a rainbow cake and at the same time not throw your ideals out the window? There are many foods that can be used for their colours: beets and raspberries for red, turmeric or saffron for yellow, spinach or spirulina for green. Some of the foods can change the flavour of the food being coloured. I used raspberries a few years ago to make pink icing for my daughter’s dolly varden cake and the icing had a raspberry taste to it which was unexpected. I found this great link that explains how to make a number of different natural food colours so that you can make a rainbow cake. You can also purchase natural food colours through Hopper Foods an Australian Company however I haven’t tried these.
So this is the cake that I made for my daughter, with some changes – I used natural food colouring not artificial. I can say that it was a hit everyone at the party. I hope this has inspired you to try some natural alternatives to colouring your food. It can be a lot of fun.
In good health, Vicki