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Naturally dyed Easter eggs from red cabbage, turmeric, beetroot and coffee. Colorful and tasty icing for Easter cupcakes can be made with all-natural, vegetable-based dyes: Beet juice for pink, spirulina (blue-green algae) for green, beet juice with a few drops of blue premade vegetable dye for purple. For more vibrant colors, vegetable-based food coloring, packaged in concentrate form, is available at some specialty grocery stores. “We are constantly being exposed to food dyes,” she says. “They are in our vita-mins, they are in our toothpaste. The safety of them has been a matter of debate for years.” It can be confusing. Some food dyes once thought to be safe have since been banned by the FDA, and researchers continue to roll out new, often conflicting, findings on currently approved dyes. Grunow said while the safest approach might be to eschew all commercial food dyes, once-yearly egg decorating is probably not cause for much concern. But find-ing healthy alternatives can’t hurt. “The problem is just that we’re exposed to so many food dyes,” she says. “Everything we can do to limit our exposure, we’re doing something good for ourselves.” Natural dyeing methods tend to produce results that are more subtle, but no less appealing, than traditional food dyes. “With natural coloring there’s never that crazy, vibrant coloring that will dye your teeth,” says Robert Collins, prepared foods manager at Tidal Creek Food Co-op, where natural dyeing techniques are used primarily in cake and cupcake frosting. “It’s a compromise. There’s not going to be Technicolor colors, but we do a good job of coming close to it.” While coloring Easter eggs can be as simple as creating a dye bath from boiled vegetable scraps, dyeing frosting and other foods has its own set of challenges. Colorful fruit purees or vegetable juices can produce pretty colors but they impart flavor too, which isn’t always ideal. “You try to find a compromise of good color without putting that flavor in it too much,” Collins says. “For an icing or something like that, you have to really watch the liquid content in your formula.” SHE TELLS A STORY Women Artists from the Permanent Collection Mar. 19 - Sept 11 cameronartmuseum.org Minnie Evans, Mythological (Detail) 74 WBM march 2016


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