{Recipe} Naturally Colored Frosting

by Sally on December 16, 2014

Naturally-Colored Frosting by Real Mom Nutrition

Is decorating sugar cookies a holiday tradition for you? If you’d like to use natural hues to tint your frosting instead of artificial dyes, I’ve got two recipes to help you achieve red and green.

Yes, naturally colored frosting takes more time than squeezing dyes from a store-bought tube. But think how much fun your kids will have watching spinach and beets transform into festive frosting! (Read about why I’ve tried to eliminate most artificial dyes from our house: Are Artificial Food Dyes Safe For Kids?)

The basic idea: Let plants lend their naturally bright shades. These two recipes make colorful liquids you’ll sub in for the water or milk called for in your frosting recipe. If you don’t have a go-to frosting recipe already, I’ve included one at the bottom of the post.


Naturally-Colored Holiday Frosting from Real Mom NutritionBeets offer an intense color–and if you simmer them way down, you can create red. Simmer them for less time, and you’ll get pink. Keep in mind that it’s hard to get a very deep, rich red (even with the store-bought dye) but this hue works just fine for me.

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Red Food Dye
  • 2 fresh beets
  • 1 cup water
  1. Rinse, trim, and chop beets. Place pieces in a blender or food processor and grind to a pulp.
  2. Combine pulp and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Set a strainer over a bowl. Pour mixture through strainer, pressing ground beets against the strainer to squeeze out all extra liquid.
  4. Use the liquid as a replacement for the water or milk in your frosting recipe.


Naturally-Colored Holiday Frosting from Real Mom NutritionFor green, make a spinach puree in your blender. If your blender isn’t powerful enough to completely liquify the spinach, strain the liquid to remove any remaining pieces of spinach, then add it to your recipe.

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Green Food Dye
  • 3 cups (unpacked) fresh spinach
  • ½ cup water
  1. In a blender, combine spinach and water until smooth.
  2. Replace the water or milk in your frosting recipe with equal amount of the spinach mixture.

Naturally-Colored Holiday Frosting from Real Mom NutritionHere’s the basic recipe I use for frosting. I use shortening instead of butter because I want a clean, white color as the base. (I use Spectrum Organic Shortening, which is non-hydrogenated.) Shortening also gives the frosting the firmness you need for piping it through a pastry bag for decorating.
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Basic Frosting for Decorating
If you want both red and green frosting, make two separate batches of this so you can tint each a separate color.
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup shortening (I use Spectrum Organic Shortening)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons liquid (milk, water, or the spinach or beet purees)
  1. Combine powdered sugar and shortening and beat with hand mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and almond extracts. While beating, add liquid, 1 tablespoons at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.

Naturally Colored Frosting by Real Mom Nutrition

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The Trap of Clean-Eating Treats

by Sally on March 27, 2014

The Trap of "Clean-Eating" Treats by Real Mom Nutrition

I’m a little bit worried about the words “healthy” and “clean”. Because I’m seeing them everywhere on social media in relation to dessert: There are recipes for Healthy Peppermint Patties. Clean Cookie Dough Blizzards. Healthy Clean-Eating Double-Chocolate Brownies with Marshmallow and Bacon Hot Fudge Sauce. Okay, I made up that last one. You get the idea.

Don’t get me wrong: I love seeing so many recipes with non- or minimally-processed ingredients. I use things like whole wheat flour and flaxseed in my own recipes too. And I enjoy experimenting with recipes that use, say, dates instead of sugar like the cookies above (read: “Simple No Bake Cookie Balls“).

But I worry because recipes using so-called “clean” ingredients seem to be getting a free pass lately as healthy and nourishing no matter what they actually are. A peanut butter cup made with coconut oil is still a peanut butter cup. When you’re eating raw vegan cookie dough bites, you’re still eating, well, balls of cookie dough.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with dessert in my book–even every day. I love dessert. But goodies like these can easily become a problem if we’re eating or serving them more frequently (or in larger portions) because we perceive them as particularly wholesome. I’ll admit I’m guilty of doing that (read: “Too Much of a Good Thing: Why Calories Still Count.”).

Bottom line: We can serve our family “clean” snickerdoodle cream pie, but even if it’s made with agave and raw cashews, kids still need to understand that pie is a sweet treat. And so do we.


{Recipe} Banana Oat Nut Bites

May 28, 2013

Recently, I was lucky enough to have a fabulous intern for a week. Megan Gutierrez, who is working toward her Master’s degree in dietetics, helped me transform some of my recipes into blog posts (like my husband’s favorite “Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Tart“). She was so good at it, I asked her to write a couple […]

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Junk Food’s Cool Factor: Can Mom Compete?

January 18, 2013

My mom tells a story about eating lunch at school as a little girl—and being embarrassed by the homemade cookies my grandma had packed for her. The rest of the kids had store-bought cookies. And even though my grandma’s cookies probably tasted 100 times better than those packaged treats, she wanted theirs instead. I think […]

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Simple No Bake Cookie Balls

August 24, 2012

When you’re hankering for something sweet–but don’t feel like turning on the oven or spending a bunch of time in the kitchen–I’ve got four words for you: No Bake Cookie Balls. I already love these Peanut Butter Balls. But I recently discovered three delicious-looking cookie ball recipes from Snack Girl. So I made them all, one […]

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4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

April 23, 2012

The best part about making cookies is, in my opinion, eating the dough. I know it’s not right. Or safe for that matter. Yet I do it anyway. That’s why I love these cookies: They taste like peanut butter cookie dough, even after they’re baked. And they only contain four ingredients–all of which you probably have right […]

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A Radical Suggestion for Holiday Eating

November 23, 2011

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving–and the official start of the holiday party circuit. Worried about overeating your way into 2012? You should be.  A lot of us treat the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve as one big excuse to eat reindeer-shaped frosted sugar cookies for breakfast. Worried about your kids? You don’t have to be. […]

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The Case for Oreos

July 20, 2011

On my Sunday perusal through the coupon circulars, I came across an advertisement for a new product that stopped me in my tracks. WhoNu? cookies may look a lot like Oreos but according to the ad, they pack as much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal, as much vitamin C as a cup of blueberries, […]

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The Yummiest (& Easiest) Summer Cookie Ever

June 29, 2011

Let’s pause for a moment in the discussion of healthy sports snacks and eating seasonally and talk cookies. Because while kids shouldn’t be given packages of cookies just for standing around a baseball diamond for 45 minutes, kids should still eat cookies. Especially when they’re made by mom. Around here, we call these Icebox Cookies […]

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