{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.
5.0 from 1 reviews
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

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a product through this link, your cost will be the same, but I will receive a small commission to help with operating costs of this blog. Thanks for your support!


7 Holiday Gifts For Your Favorite Foodies

by Sally on December 8, 2014

7 Gifts for Foodies from Real Mom NutritionGift giving can be tough stuff. And between presents for family, friends, teachers, and gracious holiday party hosts and hostesses, it can also take a bite out of your budget. These seven ideas are here to help. They’re all perfect for people in your life who love good food. All but one are things I own or that have been gifted (and much loved) by me. Even better, most of them are under $20.

 1. Spice Grater

A few years ago, a friend gave me this Microplane Classic Spice Grater and some fresh nutmeg. I’d never ground my own nutmeg, and I loved how fresh it tasted–plus I found a bunch of other uses for the microplane too, like grating hard cheeses and zesting citrus. You can also use it for grating fresh cinnamon, garlic, and ginger.

7 Gifts for Foodies2. Milk Frother

I bought myself this Aerolatte Milk Frother after using it at a friend’s house. I love how it makes at-home drinks feel coffee-shop special. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I love making Vanilla Steamers with milk, vanilla, honey, and almond flavoring (get my recipe on Food & Nutrition’s Stone Soup Blog here).

7 Gifts for Foodies3. Homemade Vanilla Sugar

Speaking of vanilla, I made these little jars of Vanilla Sugar for some friends this year, using Alton Brown’s simple recipe. I picked up the glass canisters at World Market for $3.99 each (get them here) and the vanilla beans through Amazon (get a batch of 25 beans here or a smaller order of 10 beans here).

7 Gifts for Foodies4. Homemade Everlasting Vanilla

A friend gave me this for Christmas last year and I’ve loved using it. So I decided to make some for gifts too. Here’s how: Place two vanilla beans in a jar, fill with vodka, brandy, or light rum, seal, and allow to sit for at least six weeks (preferably more). As the bottle runs low, just top it off with the alcohol of your choice. (Bottles purchased through Specialty Bottle.)

7 Gifts for Foodies5. Spice Box Subscription

Raw Spice Bar is a new spice subscription service. Each month you get 3-4 spice blends, developed with the help of chefs and emphasizing spices from around the world, plus recipes and tips. Each box is $6 and you can choose between a 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscription. I haven’t tried this service yet because it’s brand new (the first boxes ship in early January), but it seems like a perfect gift for a foodie friend who has everything. Subscribe here.

7 Gifts for Foodies6. Food Subscription

Green BEAN Delivery service brings organic produce and natural groceries–grown and produced locally when possible–to your door. The service is currently for customers in parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri. I reviewed it earlier this year (read “I Tried It: Produce Delivery Service”) and have ordered bi-weekly deliveries ever since. I like that you can customize your bin for each order and that membership is flexible (you can suspend deliveries or cancel anytime). Green BEAN offers gift cards in varying amounts (a produce bin starts at $35). Order a gift card here.

7. Help With Dinner

Got someone in need of dinnertime solutions? If they don’t have my book Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide: Feed Your Family. Save Your Sanity., they should! Right now, it’s less than $20 on Amazon.

7 Holiday Gifts for Foodies

For more ideas, check out my list of 5 Last-Minute Holiday Food Gifts.

What are some of your favorite food-related gifts to give?

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through this link, your cost will be the same, but I will receive a small commission to help with operating costs of this blog. Thanks for your support!


8 Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween Parties

October 24, 2014

I’m a purist when it comes to trick-or-treating: I pass out chocolate and let my kids have free reign over their stashes (read: “How I Handle Halloween Candy Craziness“). But I think it makes sense to dial it back for classroom Halloween parties. Most kids already haul in loads of sugar from trick or treating. At my children’s […]

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How I Handle Halloween Candy Craziness

October 15, 2014

My name is Sally. I’m a dietitian. And I hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. In the past, I’ve doled out bags of pretzels, small tubs of Play-Doh, and sheets of stickers too (and see nothing wrong with going that route). But mostly, we hand out candy. Usually chocolate. If you’re a regular on this blog, you know I […]

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A Call for Candy-Free Valentines

February 4, 2014

Remember Valentine’s Day as a kid? If your school was anything like mine, you found an old shoebox, cut a slot in the top, and decorated it with paper doilies and puffy heart stickers. You stationed it on your desk at school and made the rounds in the classroom, giggling and dropping valentines in your […]

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5 Last-Minute Holiday Food Gifts

December 15, 2013

I get a little frazzled around the holidays. That means I don’t always plan ahead (read: I never plan ahead) and gather little gifts for friends and party hosts. Since I love to cook and bake, food gifts are a natural choice. So when I need something fast, I turn to things I already have on […]

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I Have No Love for Candy Valentines

February 15, 2013

I organized the Valentine’s Day party in my son’s classroom this year. We have a lot of food allergies among the third graders–and I’m always looking for ways to reduce junk anyway–so we planned a buffet of red fruits and vegetables: red pepper strips, dried cherries, red raspberries, pomegranate seeds, strawberries, and all-fruit smoothies. My […]

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Halloween Snack Solutions for Classroom Parties

October 1, 2012

I like candy corn and pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies as much as the next person. But our little trick-or-treaters are about to be bombarded with sweets. So if your child’s class is celebrating Halloween with a party, why not go easy on the treats? Many schools are now requesting healthier party snacks anyway. Here are three ideas: […]

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Join the Project 40 Fitness Challenge!

November 29, 2011

I’m one-third of the way through Project 40, and one thing is crystal clear: I’m failing miserably at my exercise goals. I’ve all but stopped eating at the computer, and evening snacks barely tempt me anymore. But the exercise. Oh, the exercise. I’m not sure what my problem is. I’m busy, but I’ve been busy before. I’m tired, […]

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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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