Coloring boiled eggs has been a longtime Easter tradition. However, many of the food dyes commonly found on grocers shelves are synthesized from petroleum derivatives and even coal tar. This year, why not provide a healthier Easter for your children by making your own safe dyed eggs and opting for healthier substitutes for most or all of the candies.
In addition, some food dyes based on natural ingredients may come from items you may not care to ingest. For example, the common red food coloring agent carminic acid comes from the dried, crushed bodies of pregnant scale insects.
Plant-based dyes for coloring Easter eggs provide a synthetic-free and bug-free alternative and their muted yet vibrant colors are far lovelier than their counterparts. Children seem to find that mashing food is also much more fun that simply dropping a tablet in a cup. As well, it is a great lesson in creativity and exploring which plant materials works in which way.
Some materials work best when they are boiled with the eggs (as noted below), and some work well made ahead and used for dipping or soaking the eggs. If you use juice, just use it undiluted. The longer you let the eggs soak, the more intense the color will be (for the boiled versions, you can remove them from the heat and allow to cool in the dye bath).
You can use your favorite egg-dying tricks here as well: Like crayons for a batik effect or rubber bands for a tie-dye effect. If you like a glossy egg, you can rub the dyed eggs with vegetable oil when they are dry.
Red-onion skins, use a lot (boil with the eggs)
Yellow onion skins (boil with eggs)
Lemon or orange peel (boil with the eggs)
Carrot tops (boil with the eggs)
Celery seed (boil with the eggs)
Ground cumin (boil with the eggs)
Ground turmeric (boil with the eggs)
Dill seeds (boil with the eggs)
Black walnut shells (boil w/eggs)
Bright green apple peels (boil w/eggs)
Spinach leaves (boil with the eggs)
Canned blueberries and their juice
Purple grape juice
Red cabbage leaves (boil with the eggs)
Red-onion skins, less amount than you need to make red (boil with the eggs)
Diluted purple grape juice
Violet blossoms plus squeeze of lemon (boil with the eggs)
Beets, fresh or canned
Cranberries or cranberry juice
Red grape juice
Other Healthy Easter Suggestions
Limit chocolates to small amounts of healthier dark chocolate. And fill your own plastic shells with healthy items such as:
- Trail mix, mixed nuts, bagels or pretzel mix (you can also make your own trail
- Granola or popcorn mix (choose healthier organic versions)
- Organic cereals
- Raisins, dried apricots or other dried fruit
- Coins or dollar bills
You can also fill up their Easter baskets with fun non-food items that encourage their creativity.
- Add books by children’s favorite authors, along with fun and colorful Easter-themed bookmarks.
- Fill the basket with small stuffed animals and/or with toys your kids can use while staying active outside, such as sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balls and sporting equipment.
- Consider stocking the basket with small gifts designed to encourage creativity in your children, such as paints, brushes, puzzles, coloring books and crayons.
- Add various kinds of seed packets and some gardening tools so your child can plant flowers or vegetables and watch them grow. Gardening is wonderfully healthy for children and spring is the perfect time for your children to pick up gardening.
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