(Health Secrets Newsletter) Coloring boiled eggs has been a longtime Easter tradition. So has including plenty of milk chocolate and other sugar-laden candies. However, many of the food dyes commonly found on grocers shelves are synthesized from petroleum derivatives and even coal tar. This year, provide a healthier Easter for your children by making your own safe dyed eggs and opting for healthier substitutes for candies.
In addition, some food dyes based on natural ingredients may come from items you may not care to ingest. For example, the common red food coloring agent carminic acid comes from the dried, crushed bodies of pregnant scaled insects.
Plant-based dyes for coloring Easter eggs provide a synthetic-free and bug-free alternative, and their muted yet vibrant colors are far lovelier than their counterparts. Children seem to find that mashing food is also much more fun than simply dropping a tablet into a cup. As well, it is a great lesson in creativity and exploring which plant materials work in which ways.
Some materials work best when they are boiled with the eggs (as noted below), and some work well made ahead and used for dipping or soaking the eggs. If you use juice, just use it undiluted. The longer you let the eggs soak, the more intense the color will be (for the boiled versions, you can remove them from the heat and allow to cool in the dye bath).
Use your favorite egg-dying tricks here as well, like crayons for a batik effect or rubber bands for a tie-dye effect. If you like a glossy egg, you can rub dyed eggs with vegetable oil when they are dry.
Making Homemade Dyes
Canned blueberries and their juice
Purple grape juice
Red cabbage leaves (boil w/eggs)
Red onion skins, use a lot (boil w/eggs)
Lemon or orange peel (boil w/eggs)
Carrot tops (boil w/eggs)
Celery seed (boil w/eggs)
Ground cumin (boil w/eggs)
Ground turmeric (boil w/eggs)
Spinach leaves (boil w/eggs)
Yellow onion skins (boil w/eggs)
Beets, fresh or canned
Cranberries or cranberry juice
Red grape juice
Red onion skins, less amount than you need to make red (boil w/eggs)
Diluted purple grape juice
Violet blossoms plus squeeze of lemon (boil w/eggs)
Black walnut shells (boil w/eggs)
Bright green apple peels (boil w/eggs)
Dill seeds (boil w/eggs)
Limit chocolates to small amounts of healthier dark chocolate.
Fill your own plastic egg shells with healthy items such as:
*Trail mix or mixed nuts (you can make your own trail mix, granola or popcorn mix and choose healthier organic items)
*Raisins, dried apricots or other dried fruit
*Coins or dollar bills
If you give out Easter baskets, make your own with healthier items, Besides the eggs cups, you can also use these healthier alternatives:
*Add books by children’s favorite authors, along with fun and colorful Easter-themed bookmarks.
*Fill the basket with small stuffed animals and/or with toys your kids can use while staying active outside, such as sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balls and sporting equipment.
*Consider stocking the basket with small gifts designed to encourage creativity in your children, such as paints, brushes, puzzles, coloring books and crayons.
*Add various kinds of seed packets and some gardening tools so your child can plant flowers or vegetables and watch them grow. Gardening is wonderfully healthy for children and spring is the perfect time for your children to pick up gardening.