This post was written as part of the DailyBuzz Moms February 9×9 Challenge: Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I am honored and excited to be one of nine bloggers chosen to share a rainbow-inspired blog post. The nine posts will be featured on Feb. 23 on DailyBuzz Moms.
In my corporate food science days (oh paycheck, how I miss thee) I worked with different companies that supplied colorants to the food industry. If you, as the product developer, were willing to put the term ‘natural and artificial colors’ on your product label, you could get just about any color you wanted. It often came after significant R&D work, as colors can be quite finicky to work with in certain food products. I once worked on a cake mix that we had to reformulate because the dark brown color we used caused blue streaks to appear in the batter when water was added to the dry mix. Apparently consumers don’t like to see blue streaks in their chocolate cake mix. Who knew?
When formulating a product with the goal of labeling ‘natural colors,’ your color palate was a bit more limited. See, nature doesn’t have any Blue Raspberries or Arctic Blueberries to provide that oh-so-natural-looking Smurf Blue color to yogurt or frosting or cereal. Natural reds, oranges, yellows, greens and some purples are pretty easily obtained thanks to carrots, beets, algae, spices and berries. (And sometimes crushed beetle shells. Yep – read about it here) Still, when the label says ‘natural food color’ it simply means the color originated from a natural source. To get the colors out of the natural source, there is quite a bit of chemistry and processing involved. Meaning, you don’t simply drop some ground beets into a vat of yogurt to make it pink. More like you drop some concentrated liquid that was made by processing beets with hexane or acetone and other solvents and then stabilized with a natural acid. Mmmm, acetone. Wait, isn’t that stuff in nail polish remover? Yep.
While ‘natural’ food colors are indeed a better choice than ‘artificial’ food colors, I think the best and healthiest food colors are those that come straight from the plant to you. Nature makes some bold, amazing and enticing colors. They can be pretty tasty too.
Want to start your day with a rainbow of truly natural colors?
Orange Smoothie – Carrot Juice + Oranges + Ginger + Frozen Peaches
Yellow Smoothie – Frozen Pineapple + Frozen Banana + Pineapple Juice
Green Smoothie – Fresh Spinach + Fresh Kale + Frozen Peaches + Water/Ice
Blue(ish) Smoothie – Frozen Blueberries + Frozen Banana + Coconut Milk
Purple Smoothie – Frozen Blueberries + Frozen Blackberries + Frozen Cherries + Water
Combining all six of the smoothies creates a cheerful and vibrant rainbow smoothie full of nature’s colors, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and protein.
While the all-in-one cup smoothie was awfully photogenic, my kids preferred the single serving, single color little smoothie shots. They tasted each one and picked their favorites. Orange was tops for me, Red for my girl and Yellow for my boy. The husband was outside doing yard work (sorry dear) and didn’t get to choose a favorite.
I will freely disclose that I do not routinely get up and make six separate smoothies in the morning. While my plant-powered diet does give me plenty of energy, it does not make washing out the blender six times or hauling out all the frozen fruit in my freezer feasible or remotely pleasant for a school morning. My daily smoothie is generally a combination of the green and purple smoothies. It’s not as vibrantly singularly colored, but it is very filling and tasty and lets me start my day with 2-4 servings of fruits and vegetables consumed before 8am.
PS – Nature’s colors can be potent dyes, so I recommend consuming your natural smoothies on non-carpeted floors. :)