various sugar cooking frosted with natural food color frosting. The cookies are shaped as stars, gingerbread men, candy canes, hearts and trees.

This holiday season, think about switching to natural food dye while decorating cookies. Artificial food dye has been shown in studies to be toxic especially for kids in early stages of development. Not only that, making these natural dyes is so easy and fun!

There still needs to be research done to truly assess the risks of food dyes, and with conflicting opinions it can be hard to tell exactly which ones are bad and which aren’t. Either way there have been studies that show that certain dyes are toxic and could lead to some cancers and using natural ingredients eliminates that risk.

Vegan Royal Icing with Natural Ingredients

The ingredients we will be using are all packed with nutrients and antioxidants as well as providing amazing pigment.

For red we’ll be using beet powder, dried strawberry powder for pink, saffron for yellow, matcha powder for green, blue spirulina powder for blue and blueberries for purple. To briefly go over some of the health benefits of these, beets are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.

They also have anti-inflammatory properties and can help with blood pressure and digestive problems. Strawberries and blueberries (actually most berries) are packed with antioxidants and can also help with cholesterol. Saffron is also a powerful antioxidant and can aid in weight loss.

Matcha is good for brain function, heart health and may aid in protecting the liver. I sound like a broken record at this point but it is also very high in antioxidants. Lastly spirulina is a superfood and extremely high in nutrients and, you guessed it, antioxidants. Spirulina also has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for cholesterol. 

Step-by-Step Recipe

The recipe for the royal icing is going to be the same for all of them. This recipe is also vegan so to start off we’ll be using one cup of aquafaba, which is equal to one can of liquid from a can of chickpeas.

Add the aquafaba and one teaspoon of cream of tartar and mix until frothy.

Add in 5 cups or a one pound bag of powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and mix until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Wooden spoon pouring vanilla extract into a bowl.

Once that is all combined, split the icing up into separate bowls for each color and add natural food coloring to each bowl until you reach your desired color. For the beet powder, strawberry powder, carrot powder, matcha and blue spirulina just add about a tablespoon of powder.

Six small container with multiple powders and vanilla extract.

For your information: The red beet icing definitely tastes like beets while it's still wet but once it dried I couldn't taste the beets anymore.

For the purple add 2 cups of blueberries to ¼ cup of water and let simmer until the blueberries start to fall apart. Run that through a fine strainer to get out all the clumps. Then add to a small container and add powdered sugar until it becomes a paste consistency.

Berries into a bowl and a mixer

The saffron uses a similar method. Bring one cup of water to a boil and add a pinch of saffron and then reduce until it’s at about 3-4 tablespoons. And then let it steep for about 15 more minutes. Strain out the extra saffron pieces with a sieve into a little jar or bowl and continue adding powdered sugar until it becomes a paste or else it will water down the icing so much that it’s unusable. 

Extract, saffron in a pot.

 

Then just ice your cookies however you like and enjoy! 

 

Icing frost, pine figure

Vegan Royal Icing Recipe: 

Ingredients:

  • One cup aquafaba 
  • 5 cups powdered sugar + a couple of extra tablespoons for blueberry and saffron icing 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 tbsp beet root powder 
  • 1 tbsp freeze dried strawberry powder 
  • 1 tbsp carrot powder 
  • 1 pinch of saffron 
  • 1 tbsp matcha 
  • 1 tbsp blue spirulina 
  • 2 cups blueberries 

Directions: 

  • Add the aquafaba and one teaspoon of cream of tartar and mix until frothy. 
  • Add in 5 cups or a one pound bag of powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and mix until smooth, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add 2 cups of blueberries to ¼ cup of water and let simmer until the blueberries start to fall apart. Run that through a fine strainer to get out all the clumps. Then add to a small container and add powdered sugar until it becomes a paste consistency. 
  • For the saffron, bring one cup of water to a boil and add a pinch of saffron and then reduce until it’s at about 3-4 tablespoons. And then let it steep for about 15 more minutes. Strain out the extra saffron pieces with a sieve into a little jar or bowl and continue adding powdered sugar until it becomes a paste.
  • split the icing up into separate bowls for each color and add natural food coloring to each bowl until you reach your desired color.
  • Ice your cookies however you want and enjoy! 

Summary:

This was almost as easy as just using store bought food color and is so much better for you! This also made pretty vibrant colors for it being natural and tasted so good. I definitely recommend trying this for Christmas this year!

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