It’s Easter again, and they’re everywhere: those cute mini-cupcakes in the bakery section, topped with colourful frosting, begging to be eaten. We’re all attracted to bright sugary treats for an obvious reason—they taste good. However, many store-bought baked goods contain not-so-nice things like preservatives, refined white sugar, and trans-fats which can be detrimental to your health. As well, commercial food colouring has been linked to many unpleasant issues including allergies, hyperactivity, and even cancer. The use of synthetic food dyes has been banned in many European countries, yet is still standard practice in North America. Why take a chance with these harmful ingredients, when something natural can do the job?
It’s easy to make your own mini-cupcakes with high quality ingredients and naturally-coloured frosting. They will look as good and taste even better than the ones in the store. When following your favorite cupcake recipe, try using natural ingredients like unbleached flour, organic cane sugar, aluminum-free baking powder, and maybe even skip the dairy and eggs. Your standard butter cream frosting can also be improved by the use of organic powdered sugar and butter. Herbs such as turmeric, beetroot powder, or alfalfa can give your frosting vibrant colour. And you won’t detect any funky herbal taste if you add natural flavourings such as lemon, peppermint and lime. Simply add some water to the herb powder to form a paste, put a bit in your frosting, and watch the colour develop. Turmeric provides a sunny yellow colour, beetroot a cheeky pink, and alfalfa a pale grassy green. Just be careful or you may end up with a technicolor kitchen counter, as the pigments in these herbs are powerful.
Finding the ingredients is easy as well. Take a trip to your local Bulk Barn, or visit your favorite natural food store. To find any herb your heart desires, set aside an hour or two to browse the shelves of Herbie’s Herbs at Queen and Bathurst (always check with the herbalist if you are unsure of the proper use of a particular herb). Most of all, have fun and enjoy a treat that’s better for your body—and soul—this Easter.
Photo by lemonholistic from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.