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.

 

Gluten Free and Vegan Elvis Panini Sandwich!

I have been trying to eat more healthfully lately. In fact, ever since I went gluten free I have found it hard to make up the ridiculously delicious recipes I was used to creating in the past. But today I dreamed up an idea for an amazing unhealthy sandwich that at first I was skeptical of being able to pull off to meet my needs. As I continued to think about it, I devised the methods that could make it healthier, and is the perfect combination of delicious, ridiculous, healthfulness, and satiety level!

This sandwich is a peanut butter and nanner sandwich, with baked vegan rice paper bacun, made with light tapioca gluten free bread, grilled in a panini maker. This definitely is not a very original idea, I’ve seen many a vegan version of this sandwich on blogs and in cookbooks, but this is my version!

It came out so well, that my panini maker has been given a new life outside of sitting in my basement!

Let me walk you through the steps, in picture form. It’s easy!

Bake the rice paper bacun. I did this recipe’s marinade, minus the ground coconut, soaked the rice paper strips in cold water, then in the marinade, and put them on a cookie sheet sprayed with coconut oil. Then I baked them in a 350 degree F oven for about 15 minutes, checking and flipping every 5 minutes (some got done sooner than others, when that happened I took the ones that were done out and put it on a plate while the rest continued to cook)IMG_9197

Set aside.

Take two pieces of Ener-g gluten free light tapioca loaf bread and spray coconut oil on one side of both slices of bread. Put the coconut oil side down on a plate.

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Take out the peanut butter. This is a locally made, all natural, salt and sugar free peanut butter. It’s so good!

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Place one tablespoon of peanut butter on each slice of bread.

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Cut half a banana into slices. Place on one slice.

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Layer the rice paper bacun you made earlier on top of the bananas. Put the peanut butter slice down on top of the bacon to make the sandwich.

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Place the sandwich into a pre-heated panini grill on medium high for about 5 minutes, more or less depending on your device (check on it).

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Ready to go!

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Enjoy!