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.

 

Vegan MoFo day #13 Post #10: Kitchen tour time and recipe for yellow rice

Hey,

Today’s Vegan MoFo post prompt is: It’s kitchen tour time!

Technically “my” kitchen is actually my mom’s kitchen. I am very lucky to live with my parents right now because they have a really awesome kitchen. I’ll miss it when I move out.

The pictures I will post at the end will show that the kitchen a bit messy, and that’s because I took them right after I made an elaborate dinner. My mom is always complaining about the messes I make. I really can be a bit of a hurricane when I cook.

Tonight’s dinner was from the cookbook Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats From Around the World by Allyson Kramer. It was the Peanut Mole soy curls, although I’m not sure why it’s called that, since there are no peanuts in it. In addition to that, I decided to make a yellow rice recipe, which wasn’t in the book, but somehow came out looking almost exactly like the rice that was pictured in the recipe.

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The mole may not be exactly attractive, but let me tell you, anything that has a whole bar of melted chocolate in it is worth making!

Here is the recipe for the rice I made:

Yellow Rice Makes about 4 cups cooked

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup defrosted frozen peas

Directions:

  1. I recommend using a rice cooker for this as it’s easier and I love rice cookers! Place all the ingredients except the peas and tomatoes into the pot of the rice cooker and stir before turning on.
  2. If using a rice cooker, set to cook and leave it alone until it switches to warming. If you prefer not to use a rice cooker, cook on the stove as you would any other rice (you probably know better how to do that than me at this point, since I’ve grown reliant on rice cookers.)
  3. Once cooked, transfer into a large bowl and fold in the tomatoes and peas.
  4. Serve as a delicious side.

And now, what you’ve been waiting for: the kitchen tour!

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This is the area where the stove, oven, fruit basket, utensils, and blender reside. You can also see my rice cooker and the mole I just made when this was taken.

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This is the corner where my new juicer resides that I am loving and endlessly intrigued by.

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This is the sink area. You can also see on the left hand side (sorta, it isn’t clear) some pencils, pens, and paper that we keep there along with my parents’ actual landline phone. It is a mess of dirty dishes in this picture AHHHH! I cleaned them up right after eating.

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This is where a lot of the cups and glasses are stored above and where I often prepare food but am not really supposed to because my mom likes it as clean as possible. My hot water heater is currently on the top of the counter top. My cat Neko often jumps up onto this counter to get his food (since we prepare it on there), which we’ve tried to discourage him from because it’s gross, but we haven’t been consistent enough with correcting the behavior so he’s still doing it. In the background you can see the eating area where my brother is eating the Mole dish as well (he’s not a vegan but likes the food I make and eats it happily).

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The pantry area, spice rack, microwave, toaster oven, Mrs. Pots Cookie jar, etc. You can also see the cupcakes left over from the bbq I told you about that I made for Saturday, my Vega One shake, some random ingredients such as gluten free vegan breadcrumbs and buckwheat flour, and other cluttery stuff. Check out my mom’s alphabetized spice rack…we have a bit of an overgrowth of spices, as the overflow is housed in the cabinet above.

That’s all for tonight, it was fun showing you the kitchen!

Mango Cashew Thai Yellow Curry

Tonight I made this really good dinner for my brother and I! He said it tasted like it was from a restaurant. It was surprisingly easy though. I had bought this curry paste, pictured below, at Market Basket:

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Which eventually became this:

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Note: the curry paste is not mild in spiciness. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can organic full fat coconut milk
  • 1 package Kanokwan yellow curry paste
  • 1 lb extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 14 oz chopped stir fry veggies of choice
  • 1 champagne mango, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • Cooked rice, for serving

Directions:

  1. Mix together the full can of coconut milk and curry paste. Heat on medium low heat and stir until oily on top.
  2. Add in cubed tofu. Stir and allow to cook for a few minutes.
  3. Pour in vegetable broth and stir. Increase heat to medium, and add veggies, mango, and cashews.
  4. Heat until veggies are cooked.
  5. Serve over rice.
  6. Deliciously simple!

Tomorrow is the Summer Solstice and Father’s Day! I wish it wasn’t supposed to rain…:(