Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Maggie's Naturals :: Natural Food Coloring & Sugar Sprinkles {Review}

 Maggie's Naturals is a family-owned business that shares my strong belief that we should know what's in our food. Offering a line of truly natural food coloring and colored sugar sprinkles, this company is for those natural families that don't want to lose the colored fun in sweets. Maggie's Naturals are gluten-free, GMO-free, and truly all-natural with no junk or fillers.
Throughout my journey of eating healthier, real food, I've taken on one thing at a time so I can ensure these changes will stick. In the past year I've started really working on getting artificial food dyes out of our diet. Honestly, I didn't think much of them a couple years ago. I'm definitely in a different, healthier place than I was then and also lot more researched and knowledgeable. Taking control of your health requires full disclosure of ingredients, and confidence that those ingredients you're ingesting are coming from a trustworthy source. We've decreased our intake of processed foods significantly, which of course has helped limit our intake of artificial food dyes to practically nothing (there's nothing in my house right now with artificial colors). And when we do eat sweets, they're mostly homemade so I know what's in them. Really, it's the processed store-bought foods that contain these artificial food colorings, so it's best to cut them out as best you can.

I've never allowed Buddy to eat a bunch of junk food throughout the day, and especially nothing with artificial food dyes at home (it's beyond rare). But occasionally out with extended family, grandparents, or friends, I've allowed that bright red piece of cake or those chocolate candies covered in every color of the rainbow in the past. The result is always interesting, and different than that of just eating too many sweets or just being overly tired. You know something? My son is rarely a crazy hyper child. Busy, but not crazy. But when that artificial food dye hits his system, his behavior is a bit out of control. It almost appears to be like what most parents would assume is a sugar high. But knowing my son well I can spot the difference. Learning that artificial food dyes are linked to hyperactivity, I instantly made the connection. It's sad to think that many kids are probably wrongly diagnosed with a disorder when in fact the food could be to blame instead. Artificial food dyes are also derived from petroleum, can cause cancer, and are really quite nasty when you think about it. 100 Days of Real Food wrote an article on artificial food dyes that I'd encourage you to check out!

First I'd like to share about the food coloring that I received. They have six colors available, and I received four of them: green, blue, pink, and orange. Each 2 oz bottle includes organic vegetable glycerin, citric acid, and up to three more natural ingredients that provide the actual color. For instance, blue gardenia extract gives the blue it's color and annatto seed for the orange.

The pigment of each food coloring color appears to be quite dark when it's poured out, similar to rich color an artificial food dye. Where they differ in this way is in how much of Maggie's Naturals you need to add to a classic butter cream frosting compared to just a toothpick scrape of an artificial dye paste I used to use. Really, you need 1-2 teaspoons or more of Maggie's Naturals to get the same rich pigment, depending on the amount of frosting you are coloring of course. That could mean you'll go through Maggie's Naturals food coloring pretty quickly and it could prove to be quite expensive if you use food coloring quite often. However, we all know quality and safety comes at a price, and I think Maggie's Naturals is pretty reasonable with all things considered.

I tried to edit my photos to accurately represent how the colors turned out, but I also know each computer screen will show these off differently. However, you can hopefully see that Maggie's Naturals are really different tones than artificial food coloring altogether and offer a pastel pallet that feels a little vintage to me (I love it!). The pink is almost like a dusty pink with a purple tone and blue is a bit of a beautiful periwinkle. Overall they're gorgeous, and definitely not the crazy bright reds and oranges of artificial food dyes that make my stomach turn. Keep in mind that I didn't measure mine at all into each bowl since I prefer to eyeball liquid measurements of any kind, but I'd say each color here required about 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons. You can just add more or less of each food coloring liquid to reach your desired richness of color.

Maggie's Naturals food coloring are really easy to work with and the "natural" aspect of them doesn't require you to compromise your final product in any way. They don't change the texture of the frosting other than thinning it out a little because you're adding a liquid. Just add a little more powdered sugar to compensate. But there's no weird clumping, shine, taste or separation with Maggie's Naturals. They just blend right in seamlessly.

The Sugar Sprinkles are so much fun and the perfect complement to make a completely naturally-colored classic cut-out sugar cookie, cupcakes, cakes and more. I received four of the seven sugar sprinkle packets they offer: green, blue, red and orange. Again, the coloring doesn't give the sugar any odd flavor and really has the same texture as a gritty natural sugar. The colors are also very rich and pigmented. I have a few extra spice jars on hand so I transferred mine into those instead of the packets because I found them a bit hard to pour without using my fingers. However, I'm excited to have sprinkles again! You really can't tell these are naturally colored and they look so rich and beautiful.

These are actually my new gluten-free cut-out sugar cookies that turned out amazing. I'll have recipe posted soon so you can try them too. My mom is somewhat of a sugar cookie expert and was very impressed with how normal the taste and texture turned out! We had so much fun decorating them with Maggie's Naturals too.

Over the weekend we had a family birthday party for my son and he requested an orange cake! At first I cringed, but having Maggie's Naturals around I had no problem complying with his request. You may be able to see that I used three different tones of the orange by just adding a little more food coloring to the batch with each part. The background is lightest, the sides were a medium orange and the "Happy Birthday" I added a little more food coloring to make it stand out. To top it off I threw on plenty of Maggie's Naturals orange sprinkles! Buddy was very happy with his birthday cake!

At times, I've realized I can't be that frantic helicopter parent all the time (really, I feel like I'm just doing my job!). But, I have to protect my son and his health all without offending loved ones who really just don't align with my families' real food beliefs. If I have the ability to offer up the colored frosting or sprinkles for treats, I'm going to do so. With the ease of use from Maggie's Naturals, even a non- real food family won't even notice they just skipped the artificial food dyes. With Maggie's Naturals I have full confidence in what I am choosing to allow my family to consume, and all with happy, beautiful colors!

Price: Food Coloring 2 oz bottles - $9.99 each, Sugar Sprinkles 4 oz packets - $4.99 each

Buy It: Check out MaggiesNaturals.com to order today!

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product(s) to facilitate this review for free. No other compensation was received. This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.


Beth R said...

I have been trying to find sprinkles that don't have artifical dyes for a while now. I really want to try these out!

lil_lady_dz said...

I never buy anything with fake dyes/coloring for my kids or me, we prefer to buy natural, awesome choice, and I love the colors.

lil_lady_dz said...

I never buy anything with fake dyes/coloring for my kids or me, we prefer to buy natural, awesome choice, and I love the colors.