Natural Plant Based Food Coloring

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There are all kinds of reasons to avoid artificial colors in food. Some color dyes are made with petroleum, they have a history of being tested on animals, and some people are or can become highly allergic to certain color dyes, as well as some people believe they can cause a host of other health problems. I personally make some exceptions to my

I personally make some exceptions to my no artificial color rule as long as they are derived from vegan ingredients, but I’d prefer to use natural colorings in my fun food experiments rather than fake stuff. Especially if I may even be adding to the foods’ nutritional value.

So, I set about to make my own set of natural food colorings.

I’m not going to lie, the blue was the hardest to figure out and I’m still working on making it more vibrant. When I researched how to do it, I also found that the method I used does not retain it’s color if the food you put it in gets heated up. So, I’m not happy with that either. I think I might try to find a company that makes a good plant-based blue dye and use that. Or, I’ll just use green instead of blue if it’s acceptable in what I’m trying to do. I tried to find the blue (as opposed to blue-green) spirulina powder but the only place I found it online, it was $60 for a tiny bottle. No thanks.

Anyways, without further ado, here are my steps for making vibrant red, yellow, green (and a weaker purple and blue), homemade natural food coloring. The agar agar powder might be optional.  I added it in because I thought it would make it more gel-like and thicker. You could experiment with adding xantham gum, arrowroot, or cornstarch as well.

Plant-based natural food colors

Red

  • ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ tsp agar agar powder (optional, you could use cornstarch or arrowroot if you do not have it)
  • ¾ tsp beet powder

Yellow

  • ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ tsp agar agar powder (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

Green

  • ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ tsp agar agar powder (optional)
  • ½ tsp spirulina powder

Directions:

  1. Mix each color in a small glass jar.
  2. Shake well before using.
  3. Keep refrigerated until needed.

The purple and blue follow a different method:

Blue and Purple

  • 1 small head of red (purple) cabbage, chopped roughly
  • Enough water to cover the cabbage in a saucepan
  • ½ tsp Agar agar powder (recommended in this case, but you can get around it perhaps if you boil the water after you’ve taken out the cabbage longer), divided
  • ⅛-½ tsp Baking soda (as needed, for blue color only!)

Directions:

  1. To make the purple and blue coloring, you will need to boil the cabbage for 20 minutes (time after the water begins to boil, not just how long it’s on the stove for)
  2. After boiling, separate the boiled cabbage and strain the water into a bowl.
  3. Place the vibrant purple water back into the pot you boiled it in, and boil for 15-30 minutes until slightly reduced.
  4. Place ½ cup of purple water with ¼ tsp agar agar in your small glass container. Set aside and keep in the fridge until needed.
  5. Place another ½ cup of the purple water into a larger glass jar. Add the rest of agar agar (¼ tsp)
  6. Allow to cool fully.
  7. Slowly begin mixing in baking soda, ⅛ tsp at a time, stir, and continue until the water turns blue. If you’re having trouble determining if it’s blue or not, keep going until you know for sure. You can also test it out in some nondairy milk to see if it’s the correct color. If it begins to turn green, you know you’ve added too much baking soda. Also, try not to add more than a ½ tsp because it will taste rather foul. Keep chilled in the fridge until needed. Do not use if you are coloring something that will be baked or heated as the blue will not retain its color. Works well for frosting and such.

    IMG_3695Here is a picture of some cookie dough I colored using red, purple, yellow, and green dye I made.

 

Buffalo Soy Curls Recipe and a review of Daiya’s Blue Cheese dressing

Whew, this summer has been so busy! So much happening in my life right now.

Girls Rock camp starts on Monday and I am super excited to help feed people there.

Today I was in the grocery and came across Daiya’s new salad dressings. I was intrigued by the blue cheese one. I never really liked blue cheese, and I hated chunky versions of the dressing. I only liked it if it was smooth. But I decided to purchase it on a whim, and then suddenly had the great idea to make something buffalo style to accompany it.

I came up with a recipe for buffalo soy curls.

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The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag Butler Soy Curls
  • Water to cover soy curls
  • 1/4 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bottle Frank’s Red Hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Soak soy curls in a bowl covered with water for 10 minutes.
  2. Turn oven to broil.
  3. Drain soy curls.
  4. Place flour, nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powders, and pepper in a ziplock bag.
  5. Toss soy curls into ziplock bag.
  6. Spray a wide-rim baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil.
  7. Dump out soy curls out of bag and spray the tops of the soy curls with oil.
  8. Place in the broiler for about  5 minutes (watch them carefully, every oven broils slightly different, you may require more or less time).
  9. Toss, flip, or stir soy curls around a bit. Place back in the broiler for 2 minutes.
  10. When the soy curls are starting to get crisp and slightly brown, take out of the broiler and pour the hot sauce on top.
  11. Broil for another minute, then take out of the oven.
  12. Serve with celery and vegan blue cheese.

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REVIEW OF THE DAIYA BLUE CHEESE DRESSING:

Despite my reservations, I was quite impressed. It’s been ages since I’ve had the real thing, but once I tasted it I had to re-check the ingredients to make sure Daiya hadn’t pulled a fast one on me. It’s very convincing and there’s no chunkiness. Woohoo! It’s perfect for taming buffalo stuff.

Hope your summer is going well too!

Vegan Mofo 2014: Sandwich (and soup and salads) Saturday! California Club Sandwich with Bac’non Nori

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Initially I had planned to unveil my ingenious new nori vegan bacon invention today, but I actually ended up sharing it as a preview to my Vegan MoFo plans, in addition to it being International Bacon Day. This recipe builds upon the nori bac’non recipe, but adds it into a vegan club sandwich, which is the perfect addition of flavors, in my mind.

When I was a little girl we visited California almost every Summer. My favorite thing to get there was a California style Club Sandwich. They just don’t make them the same (and are hard to find) in New England. Of course, they aren’t always typically vegan, so I needed to veganize it, as well.

California Club sandwich with Bac’non Nori

Ingredients (for one sandwich):

  • 1/3 Avocado
  • 2 tomato slices
  • 1 piece/leaf iceberg lettuce
  • 1 tbsp vegenaise
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 5 slices hickory smoked tofurky
  • 4 slices Nori Bac’non-Recipe here
  • 2 slices toasted rye or sourdough

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Directions:

  1. Toast bread.
  2. Mix vegenaise and hot sauce and spread on one side of bread.
  3. Place avocados, tomato slices, and Nori Bac’non on the vegenaise side.
  4. On the other bread slice, place lettuce and tofurky cut in half.
  5. Place both sides together and place two toothpicks and cut the whole sandwich in half with a bread knife.
  6. Gobble it down.