by April Guilbault
Choose an Easter basket:
Basket #1…with organic dark chocolate, all-natural fruit flavorings, organic sugar, organic eggs and naturally-attained colors.
Basket #2…with FD & C Yellow, Blue 1, Green 3, bizarre waxes and stabilizers, preservatives and chocolate produced by unsustainable farming and unfair labor.
Hmmm. I think the choice is clear.
Easter is a time to celebrate a sacred holiday as well as the beginning of Spring. Somehow, our world has hopped out of control and most of the items that the, eh-hem, Bunny lovingly places in baskets are far from natural and need to be sent down the rabbit hole. Thankfully, there are a slew of delicious delights and smart products using Mama Nature’s ingenuity that will make your Spring holiday all the brighter. Between coloring eggs and filling those baskets, these eco-friendly items will make you feel better about what the Bunny is leaving!
Please note that due to the fact that the food dyes are generated from plants, fruits, vegetables and spices, the colors will be very “anti-Paas”. Experiment with the various companies to find the hues that color your world the way you like.
Natural Food Dyes for Baking and Decorating:
India Tree-”Nature’s Colors” line of decorating sugars in colors like spring green, raspberry red, sunflower yellow and periwinkle blue, “decoratifs”, sprinkles and decorating set of colorings. Colorants made from edible plants and approved by the EU (European Union) and the FDA (for what that’s worth). Find them at http://www.indiatree.com or on Amazon, even Home Goods and TJ Maxx sometimes! Prices range from approximately $6.00-$30 for sets.
Maggie’s Naturals food dyes– Offering sugar sprinkles and food colorings in great shades generated from produce such as spinach, beets, sweet potatoes, and curcumin. Sugar Sprinkles are $4.99/jar and Food coloring is $9.99/bottle. Go to http://www.maggiesnaturals.com/
Chocolate Craft– Selling items for both for chocolate decoration and also cake/cookie decoration supplies. They carry a full line of liquids, pastes or water and oil powders, as well as Sprinkles and Sparkles. Their website is very helpful for tips on generating the colors you want to create. Prices range from $5.00-$15.00. Go to http://www.chocolatecraftkits.com
Williams-Sonoma-Try their Eco-Eggs Egg Coloring Kit (on sale for $9.99 and in stock in the Westport store as of 3/20/13), with colors made from red cabbage, annatto and purple sweet potatoes, to name a few. They also offer Natural Sprinkles and Sugars (9.95/jar, 7 diff colors) in a lovely assortment of colors. If you want to truly DIY, check out their blog for tips: http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/natural-egg-dye/
Here are also some DIY ideas for natural colorings for your baking needs if you don’t feel like buying any kits, courtesy of EHow.com:
Pink or red…few drops of beet juice into your batter
Green…blanch a small amount of fresh spinach, puree and add to liquid ingredients
Reddish-purple…place some blueberries or blackberries in cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice
Brown…instant coffee or cocoa powder
Blue….red cabbage. Boil water, remove pot from high heat and add chopped cabbage. Simmer on low for 20 minutes until leaves turn from red to dark green and are slightly soft. Strain and throw away solids. Add less than 1 tsp of baking soda at a time to water to intensify the blue color to desired color.
And as for the yummies in the basket that are soon to be going in tummies…
Please also note that Lake Champlain chocolates are only organic and fair trade if labeled. They produce both organic and non-organic chocolates. All products featured here can be purchased at Whole Foods.
Gummy Pandas-No run-of-the-mill flavors like orange, lime or cherry here! Try Pink Grapefruit/Grapeseed, Lemon Ginger Yuzu or Apricot Green Tea instead! They are made with organic sweeteners and full of antioxidants. Every basket need some good gummies ($4.99/bag)!
Lake Champlain Organic Easter Chocolate Bars-Milk Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds, Dark Chocolate, and Milk Chocolate. All wrapped up in cute, Easter-themed packages ($5.99/bar)
Lake Champlain Organic Hopp’n Bunny-Dark and Milk, “organic chocolate, wrapped in compostable cellophane, tied with a bow made from recycled bottles”. Can’t find a more eco-friendly bunny anywhere! ($11.99/bar)
Lake Champlain Organic Chocolate Bars-Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter, Creamy Coconut, Sea Salt with Almonds, Milk Chocolate, Spicy Aztec, Crunchy Granola. The bunny will be sad that he left these behind and didn’t save some for himself! ($4.99/bar)
Divine Chocolates-Bunnies and Bees and Eggs, oh my! Sweet Milk Chocolate bunnies ($6.99/pkg), Milk Chocolate Bees with Honeycomb ($5.99/pkg) or their Easter Egg Hunt Kit, which contains 6 hollow, wrapped chocolate eggs in an adorable carton ($6.39/carton). Let the hunt begin! (photo at top of post)
Surf Sweet Jelly Beans– Finally, jelly beans made with organic fruit juices and Non GMO verified! The flavors are pleasing and the colors pastel-ly pretty! Multi-flavored bag with flavors such as tropical punch, lemonade, and watermelon.(sale price $3.67)
Newman’s Own Chocolate Cups-Organic dark or milk chocolate filled with peanut butter, caramel or peppermint ($1.69/pkg). Just when you thought you couldn’t improve upon a classic…
And one final note…if you are really looking to Spring into an eco-friendly holiday, buy all-natural wood baskets instead of the plastic ones and re-use it every year. No need to buy a new one each year, right? And to fill that basket? Use your very own shredder to make your own Easter basket grass instead of the commonly sold “plastic grass”. Who has ever even heard of plastic grass? Shred newspapers or magazines or colored construction paper. When the holiday is over, add it to your compost pile!
April Guilbault is a graphic artist and illustrator turned freelance writer and blogger. After studying Communication Design at Syracuse University, she went on to work at NBC in Chicago and New York as a graphic designer on such shows as NBC Nightly News and The Rosie O’Donnell Show, which earned her several Emmy awards. These days she focuses on a new-to-her variety of creativity…words and writing. Her blog www.DailyFrosting.com is a daily pursuit covering all aspects of enhancing one’s life, namely focusing on the little things that make it worthwhile. Humor, recipes and observances rule the day. She is currently also a contributing writer to the FC Beat magazine.