I had no idea how hard it would be to keep my son away from red food dye once he started kindergarten, but after a rocky first month (last August), I was finally able to get my son and his teacher on the same page regarding what he could and couldn’t eat at school.
Some of you are probably rolling your eyes at this point, thinking I’ve lost my marbles and must be an overly “crunchy” mom who feeds my child ridiculous things…..you couldn’t be further from the truth. My own mother thought it was a silly notion — until she witnessed the change in my son, herself.
My son is an adorable, kind-hearted, obedient and smart little boy who loves going to school. He’s a bit on the shy side but seems to make friends relatively easily once he comes out of his shell a bit. When he has even the smallest amount of red dye in his food or drink, he becomes a nightmare poster child for ADHD until its out of his system (for the next three days straight) and he cannot sleep to save his life in that time-span…you can imagine how difficult life is for the rest of us but for him, it’s even harder to understand WHY he can’t control himself, concentrate, sleep or even sit still. He becomes an emotional little wreck all because of some “harmless” food additive to make treats more visually appealing. So, we have learned to collectively avoid any and all foods with red dye as a family and I’ve taught him how to make these decisions at school and to speak up about it when I’m not around.
So, as you can imagine, my heart sank when I saw the heart-themed weekly newsletter that was sent home in his backpack, proclaiming that there would be a Valentine’s Day Party at school next week. At first came the fear of there being no peace in the house for half the week following the party, then the anger that my son couldn’t participate in the candy-eating goodness. I want my son to enjoy all of the little things that make childhood magical and special – I want him to have a normal childhood in every way, but here we are faced with the choice of sitting it out or taking control.
WE CHOOSE TO TAKE CONTROL.
For all of you who have kids with red dye sensitivities or allergies, I have pulled together a list of fun recipes you can do with your kids to celebrate all of the sweet red goodness that is Valentine’s Day.
I’ll be making some of these treats for my family this week and likely sending a good chunk of it to school with my son to be enjoyed during the party because I know it’s more special to him that way – when it’s enjoyed by all the kids and not alone at home.
If you have any recipes or additions you’d like to share, please comment and let us know! I am always looking for new tips and ideas 🙂
I’ve created a Pinterest Board for all of you who are looking for some fun ideas sans the red food dye. Check it out here.
Also, if you have a recipe that you LOVE and want to keep it, just swap the type of dyes used. Natural food coloring is available on Amazon made from vegetable colorants. I only just found out about these awesome little dyes and would totally check them out but the adventurous side of me kind of wants to play Betty Crocker!
As a side note, I also found Marachino Cherries at the store yesterday sans the red dye! They’re not as bright and pretty but it does afford those sensitive to red dye the chance to enjoy the taste and novelty of having a “cherry on top” with all of the other cool kids.
Here’s a summary of my favorites that will be tried in our house this year:
For those of you with a broken oven or who just don’t bake, there’s a few ideas on the board for you, too! Be sure to check out the gummies, pancakes or pink pasta. (Also note, some baking recipes can also be prepared by the cup in the microwave).
For more resources on recipes without red dye, check out this blog: Red Dye Free!
Be sure to sign up for my newsletter for info on the re-release of my e-book! Occasionally, I will send out free printable templates, recipes and meal plans as wells as updates and deals only made available to subscribers. Sign up here.