You already know how we feel about cake (yum!) and about artificial food colorings (boo!), and about how we made it through Valentine’s Day and Halloween without food coloring. So you can imagine how we feel as St. Patrick’s Day draws closer and we are seeing neon-green cupcakes and frosted cookies everywhere we go. People, you don’t have to go there! You can say no to artificial colors and still have yummy food and happy kids.
Finding green food for your main course shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. You’ll want to feature plenty of naturally bright greens, from broccoli to fresh sugar snap peas. Make it easy on yourself by checking out this guide to Eating by Color (Green) on Healthy Eats.
For your dessert course, going “green” gets a little more challenging, but it’s not insurmountable. For example, you can make your own green food coloring using a little bit of spinach. Simply take a large handful of fresh spinach leaves and bring them to a boil with about 3/4 cup of water in a small saucepan. Let the whole thing simmer for about ten minutes, then cool. Drain out the water and squeeze the spinach to get as much of the concentrated juice as possible. Then add a few drops of the “green juice” as a replacement for the food coloring in your frosting recipe. The frosting may taste a little leaf-y to those with discriminating palates, but trust us, the kids on whom we tested this did not express any hesitation.
If you want to go for something even more spinach-y, check out this Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake with Green Monster Whipped Cream Frosting from Edible Perspective. This frosting actually uses pureed spinach – an amazing accomplishment; possibly a little bit of a tougher sell at our house.
Another way to get green frosting? Avocados. That’s right – and in fact, if you Google “avocado buttercream” you’ll find more than 1,500 results. The high(er) fat content in avocados makes this frosting deliciously rich without as much butter. We like this avocado buttercream frosting (with some great pictures) from Chocolate and Tea and this avocado buttercream frosting from Alton Brown’s “Curious Yet Tasty Avocado Experiment” episode. Another thing we love about avocado frosting is that it comes out in such a beautiful pale green shade – perfect for spring.
And last but not least, don’t forget that there’s no law saying that your kid’s St. Patrick’s day dessert has to be green. If you want to stay away from frosting, simply bake a batch of sugar cookies and cut them with a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter. An instant St. Patrick’s Day dessert – and you probably won’t hear too many complaints from the peanut gallery either.
Now go forth and eat!
Slainte! (literally, “health”)