Natural Health Supporting Food Colouring that will brighten every occasion.

Author: Smug Health & Lifestyle School  Date Posted:7 November 2021 

 

Eat the Rainbow

Over here at Smug Health and Lifestyle School we're always aiming to 'eat the rainbow' throughout the day to savour the delicious array of textures and flavours that a plant-rich diet offers,  and to ensure we're obtaining a supportive range of phytonutrients - the beneficial compounds that give plants their colour as well as their aromas and tastes. When colouring foods, we look to use natural products that not only make our food look beautiful, but that also offer us the health-giving properties contained inherently within: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's celebrate!

The phrase we 'eat first with our eyes' applies to all of us, but, perhaps, especially to our little ones who might have asked for a pink, blue, rainbow or other brilliantly coloured cake for their birthday or special occasion. It's easy to look to Mother Nature when considering how to create vibrantly coloured foods that taste delicious while also offering some pretty impressive health benefits too.

A bright blue cake (perhaps inspired by a certain ABC Kids' program...), that just so happens to contain super-charged antioxidants, a sweet pink-iced cupcake that's also rich in fibre and iron, or a sophisticated green-hued tea-cake that might increase your energy, boost your metabolism and have you day-dreaming of cherry-blossoms in the springtime? Plant foods will bring the rainbow and these nutritional blessings to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beneficial blues

Blue spirulina is the natural blue pigment extracted from green spirulina (a type of blue-green algae with amazing antioxidant benefits). Gram for gram, spirulina has been called 'the most nutritious food on the planet.' Blue spirulina has a much more neutral flavour than green spirulina (no fishy/seaweedy smell or taste), so it's great as a nutritious natural food colouring. Even the brightest of blue icings won't have you thinking you're eating some kind of creation from the ocean.

Blue spirulina has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is rich in vitamins and minerals, is high in Vitamin B for energy, may support the healthy functioning of your immune system, increase metabolism and improve digestion. And, it is the most fun and vibrant blue food around!

Sweet Purples and Pinks

Acai bowls are a delicious mauve-coloured way to enjoy this incredibly nutritious berry, but acai powder also generates a purple hue when used in cooking and baking too. Acai has a deep, almost dark-chocolate & blackberry flavour and it pairs well with unprocessed sweeteners such as maple syrup in celebratory creations.

Acai berries contain a certain type of powerful antioxidant called anthocyanins - the pigment that gives acai berries their rich purple colour. Foods high in these compounds are potent antioxidants (great for anti-aging) and may be a brilliant - and flavourful - natural 'medicine' to turn to when seeking support for normal cellular-tissue growth and neutralising free-radicals within the body that may lead to harmful diseases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beetroot powder is the sweetest of the natural food colours we refer to in this blog post, and it's a personal favourite of mine not just because of this, but due to the nutritional punch it packs through its essential mineral content: potassium, iron, manganese and Vitamin C (amongst others).

Approximately one teaspoon of beetroot powder can be the equivalent of eating a whole beet  - and it's so delicious in smoothies too!

 

 

 

 

Sophisticated Greens

Matcha is often described as a 'superfood tonic' and it's certainly got the antioxidant levels to support this claim! Matcha powder is the ground-up leaf of the Camellia sinensis (green tea) plant, however, farmers cover these tea plants 20-30 days before harvesting to ensure no direct sunlight reaches the plant. This increases chlorophyll production and the amino acid content of the leaves. It's also rich in zinc, selenium and magnesium.

Matcha is a 'sophisticated green' because it's flavour can be quite distinctive and strong, depending, of course, on how much powder you use (like a punchy green tea), and it contains reasonably high levels of caffeine. However, it's impact is considered more 'clean' (less jittery) than coffee and more long-lasting.

If used in baking, matcha pairs well with white and dark chocolate, almond, macadamia nuts, vanilla and lemon. In the Gluten-free Orange Cake recipe linked, substitute the orange rind and orange juice for the equivalent lemon, and you'll have a cake base that suits a matcha accompaniment.

 

 

Homemade probiotic-rich Labneh ‘icing’

Homemade probiotic-rich labneh ‘icing’ is easy to make and incredibly versatile. Add the vibrant and nutritious natural food powders we're sharing with you here for decorating purposes.

To make enough labneh ‘icing’ for one cake, you’ll need to strain the liquid (whey) out of 2 cups of natural yoghurt (organic if possible) to create approximately 200g of a thicker ‘cream cheese-like’ substance. To do this, put 2 cups of natural yoghurt into the middle of a cloth with a weave ‘open’ enough to allow liquid to drip through. Doubled up muslin is perfect for this, however, we often use old linen tea towels, fabric napkins or even clean Chux-style cloth.

Pull the edges of the material up to create a parcel with the yoghurt at its centre, snap an elastic band around this to contain the yoghurt, and place somewhere the whey can drain out into a vessel - retain the whey as it’s highly nutritious! We hang our draining yoghurt off a stand juicer, you can hang off a kitchen cupboard handle, over a tap that’s not being used, over a bowl attached to a wooden spoon or placed in a sieve over a bowl. Please find our 'Make Labneh' highlight on our Instagram page here for incredibly nutritious ways you can utilise your whey, a powerhouse liquid that contains all nine essential amino acids.

Leave out of the fridge, draining, for between 8 to 24 hours. The longer the drain, the more solid the labneh, which will make a difference especially if piping onto your cake. Don't worry if it's warm where you live, this is a traditional way of making labneh (strained yoghurt) and you won't 'spoil' your yoghurt.

Once the whey has drained, store it in the fridge in a jar (for up to six months, though you're sure to use it before then), and pop your labneh in a bowl ready to whip into ‘icing’.

Colour your World Naturally 

For a traditional ‘cream cheese’ icing, add 1tbs lemon juice (or to taste) to approximately 200g labneh and beat with blenders until combined and smooth. If you’d like this more sweet, add maple syrup, monkfruit powder or an unprocessed sweetener of your choice, one teaspoon at a time until desired sweetness is reached.

For a sweet-ish ‘icing’, add one teaspoon of sweetener of choice (or more depending on your preference) to labneh and beat until combined and smooth.

For blue icing, add 1/2 teaspoon Austral Herbs Organic Blue Spirulina at a time until desired colour is achieved.

For pink icing, add 1/2 teaspoon Austral Herbs Organic Beetroot Powder until desired colour is achieved.

For purple icing, add 1/2 teaspoon Austral Herbs Organic Acai Berry Powder until desired colour and flavour is achieved. You can also create a gorgeous purple shade by combining Austral Herbs Organic Blue Spirulina and Austral Herbs Organic Beetroot Powder.

For green icing, add 1/2 tsp Austral Herbs Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder until desired colour and flavour is achieved. Don't go overboard here - matcha has a very powerful flavour

For yellow icing, we steep approximately 10 saffron threads in one dessert-spoon of slightly cooled boiled water for approximately 20 minutes, then remove threads before adding to labneh (though, leaving them in can look rustic and sweet too!).

Depending on the saffron you use, and your desired colour, you may need to add more saffron-infused water (which has a sweet, floral taste to it).

For orange icing, we mix Austral Herbs Organic Beetroot Powder and a little saffron-infused water until the desired colour is reached.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten-free Orange Cakes

The recipe for the Gluten-free Orange Cakes you see in these images can be found on the Smug Health and Lifestyle School Instagram here. These cakes have quite a delicate flavour that suits a labneh (strained yoghurt) 'icing'.


Alice and I would love to have you join our natural-living (and delicious food!) focussed community over at Smug Health and Lifestyle School. We’re looking forward to sharing more ideas for family and group oriented meals, celebrations and lunchboxes,  along with natural lifestyle and gardening stories with you and your family.