Posts Tagged ‘food dyes’

Why All the Candy?

Monday, February 1st, 2016

why all the candyOh, Valentine’s day. What are we really celebrating? It’s supposed to be all about love and friendship right? Nurturing our love for each other, celebrating our friends who feel like family, being thankful for the love that we have in our lives. We want the best for the ones we love the most right? So what exactly does candy have to do with any of that? Why do we want to give the people we love so much little boxes of candy hearts filled with food dye, sugar and who knows what else?

I’m a mom who tries really hard to keep junk food out of the house. I want food dye, corn syrup, sugar and whatever else is in candy far away from my daughter which makes valentines day a day that I don’t even want to send her to preschool. Surely she’ll come home with lots of little bags of candy that I’m not going to let her eat and that will end up in the trash. I feel bad throwing it away- after all someone paid for it- but to be honest I’d much rather put it in the trash than put it in our bodies.

So then the bartering with a 4 year old begins. You give me that candy and we’ll buy you some other candy that doesn’t have the ingredients that I don’t want you to have. You really want the candy you got? Ok, choose one piece that you really, really want and you can have that and then we’ll change the rest for something else.

But then I become the monster mom that won’t even let her kids have a piece of candy on valentines day. Lucky for me I don’t really care what other parents think of what I feed my kid. No, I’m not depriving her of a life without candy- I just make sure the candy she does eat is the highest quality I can find. There are plenty of organic varieties out there and just because something is organic does not make it healthy – candy is candy.

I want her to learn at a very young age that there is a huge difference when it comes to the quality of ingredients. Plain and simple. I tell her all about the junk that’s in food and then sometimes we decide we still decide to have some junk but I know that even at the age of 4 she knows there’s a difference.

My hope is that one day she’ll come home from school with cute valentines day cards from her friends instead of little bags of candy.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor and online fitness coach. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their grove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.


Why We Ditched the Food Dye

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Why We Ditched the Food DyeWhen my son was a toddler he was unpredictable. He had violent outbursts and inconsolable meltdowns that seemed to come out of nowhere. By the time he was 4, I had read a library of parenting books and hadn’t gotten very far. There had been many suggestions that he had ADHD, though he was too young to diagnose. I was looking for natural remedies for ADHD when I came across many, many articles suggesting that artificial food dye can affect susceptible children behaviorally.

With nothing to lose, we cut all artificial food coloring from our food. This isn’t as easy as it seems. Colorful candy is obvious. Marshmallows are white so they should be fine, right? Nope! Many use blue dye. Frozen waffles and canned rolls use multiple colors.

However, we did it. Within two weeks we had a different child. He was happy. He could communicate when he was upset. He no longer lashed out when angry. This change was worth it!

Halloween came a few months later and we weren’t sure how to handle it. We decided to let him have colorful candy just this once. The next day was the worst I have ever seen him–but it reaffirmed why we were doing this. Now for Halloween we have a system where he picks out candy ahead of time and we do an elaborate swap game when we get home. Birthday parties are also tricky to navigate between the juice, decorated cake, snacks and treat bags. I send him with his own ice cream sandwiches and pure apple juice.

However, we were still experiencing very bad days that would send us pouring over the ingredients of everything he had eaten in the last 24 hours. One ingredient kept popping up: annatto. Annatto is “an orange-red dye obtained from the pulp of a tropical fruit, used for coloring foods and fabric.” It’s found in many things that are yellow/orange–think Goldfish crackers and yellow cheddar.  I did some digging and found that despite it being a natural coloring, some children react quite severely to annatto, including hyperactivity, self-harm, agitation, irritability, and incontrolable defiance. My son throws himself into walls and floors and people while loudly babbling incoherently. He is unable to answer most questions asked of him. He often has to sent to his room for safety–both his and his little sister’s. Annatto’s out.

So, where do we shop? What do we buy? I shop exclusively at my local natural food co-op– check here to see if you have one nearby. Over the past 4 years we have found marshmallows, frozen waffles, canned rolls, even chocolate candy with a colorful candy shell. We even make a version of marshmallow Peeps. The only ingredient I have to worry about there is annatto; foods with artificial dyes are not sold there. There is nothing missing, except the tantrums.

For more information check out Die, Food Dye, and read this study on just how much dye is in a brand name foods.

Shannon Smith is a mom to two children.  

Healthy Smash Cakes for Toddlers

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Healthy Alternatives to smash cakeEveryone loves a good birthday party and pictures of a cute baby tearing into their first birthday cake. It seems like the smash cake is almost a rite of passage, a necessary part of the first birthday ritual.

At this age many babies have never even tasted sugar, so it can be a shock to their tiny bodies. Food dyes can cause reaction in many kids, not to mention toddlers. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy alternatives to the traditional smash cake.

Going with a homemade cake might be your best bet since you can control the ingredients and sweetness. Chances are that even a cake that is just a little bit sweetened will please your baby, and you can use vegetable-based food coloring, typically found in health food stores, to make it just as pretty as any store-bought cake.

If you’re trying to avoid grains, this is a fabulous recipe for a paleo smash cake. Below is the recipe I used for my daughter’s smash cake and it was an absolute hit! Use organic ingredients whenever possible.


5 ripe bananas

¾ cup cinnamon applesauce

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour or gluten free baking mix

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mash the bananas with the applesauce and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.

Mix the dry ingredients into the banana mixture.

Liberally grease the cake pan with coconut oil or organic butter and pour in the batter.

You can use a large pan and the cut out smaller shapes once it’s baked or you can use small, individual sized pans. Begin checking for doneness at around 20 minutes, less if you’re using very small pans or a little longer if it’s a large pan.


1 cup cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup fresh strawberries or blueberries (whichever color you prefer)

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. Wait for the cake to cool before spreading the frosting.

If you want to try something completely different, you can try a cake made out of fresh fruit. Watermelon makes a perfect base for a cake and now is the best time for one of these fruit cakes since so many delicious fruits are in season. Here’s a great guide on how to make a beautiful watermelon cake!

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.