Safe Food Coloring Alternatives to Artificial Food Coloring

Artificial food coloring is in everything. From baked goods to packaged products, artificial food coloring has made its way into everything in our food supply chain. What’s scary is that artificial food coloring causes serious health problems in adults and children. The regulations around artificial food color labeling on foods is also very weak, which makes it difficult for any of us to decipher what is natural/safe and what’s unnatural/detrimental to our health.
Artificial food coloring (or artificial food dyes) is prevalent in many things that we eat and drink. The synthetic or unnatural ingredients used in food coloring is often unsafe for both children and adults. These artificial food dyes have been linked directly to multiple forms of cancer in adults in addition to behavioural problems and hyperactivity disorder in children.

Use vegetables and fruit to naturally produce food dyes and colouring

In addition, the typical consumer, like you and I, are not properly educated on the health risks associated with artificial food coloring. In most cases, the names of the artificial dyes are meaningless (like yellow 5 which is derived for the tar of coal and blue 2). In other cases, packaged and processed foods just list colors without telling the consumer whether they are artificial or natural (in most cases, they are artificial). Blue 1 and 2 dyes are linked to cancer in many new studies and Red 3 dye causes thyroid tumors in rats. As well, it’s been proven that Green 3 dye causes bladder cancer and Yellow 6 dye causes kidney and adrenal gland tumors. All of these artificial food dyes are typical in both children and adult processed/packaged foods.

Artificial food coloring is found in so many things including:


Concentrated fruit juice
Fast food
Baked goods like bread, muffins, cookies
Gelatin esserts
Soft drinks
Low nutrient foods


How to make Natural Food Coloring Safe for Ourselves

We’ve got great news! If you are looking to ‘color’ your food, there are many natural alternatives to artificial dyes and artificial food coloring. All of these natural food colors come from plant based fruits and vegetables, so they are completely healthy, nutritious and organic (if possible). The natural food colors are safe for both children and adults, and likely, will not alter the taste of your food or dish (unless you want it to). The safe and natural food colors can be mixed to create new colors and in most cases, should not cause any allergies. These food coloring alternatives can be easily prepared at home too!

Natural food coloring options using vegetables and fruit


Here are some of the natural food colors from organic vegetables and fruits that you can experiment with:


Natural YELLOW Food Coloring > turmeric powder, yellow carrots, lemon zest, saffron flowers, bee pollen

Natural ORANGE Food Coloring > orange carrots, orange zest, carrot juice, pumpkin, papaya, cumin powder

Natural RED Food Coloring > red beets, chilli powder, strawberries and pomegranate

Natural PINK Food Coloring > beetroot, pomegranate powder and raspberries

Natural PURPLE Food Coloring > red grapes, organic red wine, red cabbage, purple carrots, purple potatoes, acai berry powder

Natural GREEN Food Coloring > spinach juice, wheatgrass, kale, swiss chard leaves, lime zest

Natural BLUE Food Coloring > blueberries and blackberries

* Images from Food Matters. Thank you!

Sexiest Vegans in the UK for 2013 (PETA)

Sexy and vegan do work together! PETA just announced the sexiest vegans in the UK for 2013! And the winners include 1 woman and 1 guy. The sexiest UK vegan includes Laura Dalton who turned vegetarian when she was 9 years old and then became a vegan at age 18. Toby Channon is the sexiest male vegan in the UK for 2013. A personal trainer for many years, Toby Channon has been vegan for over 4 years and is an avid fundraiser for various charities! The votes were cast through PETA for the UK’s sexiest vegans for this year. According to Mimi Bekhechi, the PETA UK Associate Director, “On average, vegans are healthier and have more energy than meat-eaters do – and that makes them sexier too.”

Turns out the Parenthood hottie has strayed from his meatless diet.
“I’m really flattered to be named ‘Sexiest Vegetarian’ with ‪Kristen Bell, but sadly I can’t accept in good conscience because I eat chicken,” Dax Shepard tweeted this afternoon.
“I was vegan for a year, but that ended 6 months ago. I aspire to be more like Kristen Bell, but I’m not there yet,” he said in a follow-up tweet.
Dax Shepard first took up the veggie lifestyle in January 2012 after watching the documentary Forks Over Knives.
Dax Shepard not a vegan

UK's sexiest vegans in 2013 winners
Other entrances into the UK sexiest vegans 2013 competition included: Georgina Bellot of Jersey Channel Islands, Shayna Weisz of Birmingham West Midlands, Amy of Lymington Hampshire, and Laura of Naas Kildare.
UK sexy female vegans
For the men’s sexiest UK vegan side, other notable entries included: Calum Eager, Pendle of Penzance Cornwall and Toby Channon (the winter). Congrats to all of you for adopting a true vegan lifestyle!
Male sexy vegans in the UK

Do you know what’s really inside McDonald’s Fries?

I love McDonald’s French Fries. Their crispy, salty and so easy to eat. Like many of you, I grew up eating McDonald’s fries as a kid. I have so many childhood memories that are directly linked to having McDonald’s fries with friends and family. From ‘super-sizing’ to ‘value meals’ McDonald’s has always done a great job marketing their fries as a great snack, appetizer, main meal and dessert.

So our question to you is: Do you know what’s really inside McDonald’s French Fries? Do you know the ingredients and the nutritional value (or lack of) of these tasty treats? Well, we’ll try to break down what’s really inside McDonald’s fries in this article and we’ll leave you with some frightening and some less scary thoughts and conclusions about our findings.

Plus, McDonald’s French Fries are actually NOT VEGETARIAN food. You’ll see why…



THE INGREDIENTS of McDonald’s Fries (5.4 oz large French Fries)

Here’s a quick rundown of the actual listed ingredients on McDonald’s Fries so that everyone is aware of what’s really inside them:

Vegetable Oil (natural beef flavor*, hydrogenated soybean oil, canola oil)
Citric Acid**
Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate***

In addition, the oil used in the frying technique contains tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ).

* The ‘natural beef flavor’ in the vegetable oil ingredient contains both hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as its starting ingredients.
** Citric acid is the preservative for McDonald’s fries
*** Sodium acid pyrophosphate maintains the beautiful color of the French fries



THE NUTRITION FACTS about McDonald’s Fries

Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional value of McDonald’s French Fries:

Calories: 500
Fat: 25 grams
Carbohydrates: 63 grams
Sodium: 350 mg
Fiber: 6 grams
Protein: 6 grams




In order to get that yummy, crispy, greasy, and addictive taste, McDonald’s fries are double fried before they get onto your plate. These otherwise healthy and starchy potatoes are cut, boiled and fried once before they are even shipped to the restaurants. And then, they are fried once again before they make it into your Happy Meal. By then, they don’t really even resemble potatoes any more.

So what’s really inside McDonald’s fries? Well, the deep frying process gives us a taste of what’s actually in them in order to make them so delicious and addictive.

Dr. Ochner, a respected New York Obesity Nutrition Research Centre research associate, has studied health and nutrition for many years. In the case of the questions: what’s really inside McDonald’s fries, he summarizes the ‘Canola Oil’ ingredient has low grade corn oil or soybean oil. Although ‘healthier’ then some other oils, Dr. Ochner mentions that the canola oil is used in deep frying the McDonald’s fries, which in any circumstance is NOT good for your health. In addition, canola oil (both corn and soybean oils) are very high in calories and if you consume too many McDonald’s fries, you will end up GAINING WEIGHT just from the oil intake itself.

Secondly, the Hydrogenated Soybean Oil comes about through the ‘saturation’ of regular soybean oil. Through a complex and clearly unnatural process called HYDROGENATION, soybean oil changes from unsaturated to saturated fats. Now why is HYDROGENATED Soybean Oil used in McDonald’s French Fries preparation? Well, saturated fats like hydrogenated soybean oil is easier to cook/fry with and in addition, boosts the PRESERVATION time of the fries. What most consumers don’t realize is that saturated fats become TRANS FATS. These unhealthy fats also lead to all sorts of health problems, most notably, heart diseases, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Although the FDA requires ‘zero trans fat per serving’, it really isn’t ZERO. It’s LESS THAN 1 GRAM PER TABLESPOON and through this glaring loophole, McDonald’s is able to serve these unhealthy French Fries without changing the preparation or ingredients.

Thirdly, Citric Acid is used as the preservative for these fries. So when you look at what’s inside McDonald’s fries, it’s actually quite scary. Although citric acid is deemed ‘safe’ for consumption, you can clearly see its effects on preserving McDonald’s French Fries for longer than 2 months as seen in Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock’s amazing 2004 documentary about the Fast Food industry.

Fourthly, Natural Beef Flavor is an ingredient used in the preparation of those yummy McDonald’s French Fries. The name itself is actually quite disturbing to us … what do you think? The history surrounding the ‘natural beef flavour’ is that McDonald’s French Fries used to be cooked in beef fat. That was until beef fat became too expensive and hard to come by. That’s when McDonald’s decided to change to canola oil and hydrogenated soybean oil. In order to keep the delicious ‘beef flavor’, McDonald’s had to concoct a natural beef flavor to RESEMBLE the real thing. The flavoring contains both hydrolyzed milk and hydrolyzed wheat products.

So what are the big ramifications for this switch to ‘natural beef flavor’? Well, McDonald’s fries are actually NOT CONSIDERED VEGETARIAN FOOD anymore! Because of the hydrolyzed wheat and milk products in the natural beef flavoring, McDonald’s was sued in 2002 when members of a Hindu community filed claims that McDonald’s did not disclose how the French Fries were prepared. And guess what? They won a $10 million payout.

Lastly, Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a scary and very effective preservative used in the preparation of McDonald’s French Fries. Remember what Kris Carr always says …. If the food lasts longer than we do, just don’t eat it! Not only that, but recent studies have linked TBHQ to DNA damage through generations as well as stomach ulcers.




Now that we’ve covered the preparation/frying ingredients used in our most beloved fries, here are some details about the other ingredients used in them.

Firstly, Dimethylpolysiloxane is a SILICON product used as an ANTI-FOAMING AGENT before the cut potatoes are shipped. This is used possibly for fewer ‘spill’s and therefore, less clean up. We need to do more research to see if dimethylpolysiloxane is harmful if consumed.

Secondly, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate is another preservative used in McDonald’s fries. This time, it’s used to keep the beautiful golden color. It’s also used in many muffin/pancake mixes, waffles, puddings and cakes and also canned fish, cured meats and flavored milk. Yuk! And remember, if sodium acid pyrophosphate is not used on McDonald’s French Fries, they would turn BLACK within days.

Thirdly, Dextrose is the 3rd ingredient listed, which means that in terms of quantity of ingredients, dextrose comes just after potatoes and oil. As we all know, dextrose is sugar which obviously is used to make us addicted to the fries.


OUR CONCLUSION about What’s Inside McDonald’s Fries

None of the ingredients in McDonald’s French Fries would fit in the Just Add Good Stuff recommendation list. As you know, we are all about raw organic foods that are gluten and dairy free. Having said that, we can also conclude that most of these ingredients in McDonald’s Fries and what’s actually inside them is very UNHEALTHY for ANYONE to consume. These hidden ingredients are actually what makes them so delicious and addictive at the same time.

The processed, non-organic potatoes used in McDonald’s French Fries should already cause alarm bells ringing. Add to it the many preservatives and saturated fats (through highly refined oils) and you have a visit to the hospital. Then, add a dash of sugar and it will keep you coming back for more. Remember that McDonald’s Fries are full of empty calories which means that they won’t fill you up with much nutrients. On the contrary, they will make you crave even more unhealthy saturated, salty and sweet foods.

Having done a study on what’s inside McDonald’s French Fries, we can also conclude that McDonald’s nor it’s fries are the only or worst culprit. There are many other fast food products served that are much worse. These include:

KFC’s Chicken Pot Pie = 790 calories and 45 grams of fat
McDonald’s Angus Bacon & Cheese Burger = 820 calories and 41 grams of fat
Burger King’s Double Whopper = 830 calories and 50 grams of fat

Other ‘healthy alternatives’ are also not very healthy. Take for instance the Hardee’s Gluten Sensitive Low Car Breakfast Bowl which contains 740 calories and 61 grams of fat.

Our recommendation is to gradually take out the bad stuff in your diet and replace them with true whole foods, plant based nutritional foods.


The New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center
Hardee’s: Gluten Sensitive – Low Carb Breakfast Bowl
Burger King: Nutrition Facts
KFC: KFC’s Nutrition Guide
60 Minutes: Is Sugar Toxic?
Morgan Spurlock: Super Size Me
SciVerse: Toxicology of Tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
McDonald’s: McDonald’s History
McDonald’s: McDonald’s Nutrition Facts
Luz Plaza: What’s Really Inside Those McDonald’s French Fries

NEWS > Huh? The United States APPROVES more pesticides that cause mass bee deaths BUT the EU BANS these same chemicals

As soon as we read the news headlines here at Just Add Good Stuff, we just couldn’t believe it.  We honestly though it was a late April Fool’s joke.  As the latest reports came out in regards to the mass bee deaths (especially the large scale deaths of honeybees – also known as the Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD) in the world that were directly linked to new crop pesticides and chemicals being delivered to our foods, the public is questioning not only the safety of our food, but also its adverse affects on our complete food chain.


UPDATE: Check out MORE THAN HONEY documentary by Markus Imhoof that was released June 2013.  Watch the trailer here -or- visit the website here. Synopsis: Oscar-nominated director Markus Imhoof (THE BOAT IS FULL) tackles the vexing issue of why bees, worldwide, are facing extinction. With the tenacity of a man out to solve a world-class mystery, he investigates this global phenomenon from California to Switzerland, China and Australia. Exquisite macro-photography of the bees (reminiscent of MICROCOSMOS), in flight and in their hives, reveals a fascinating and complex world in crisis.


honey bee feature


For those of us with children, grand children and even great grand children, it’s horrifying to hear about the mass bee deaths and large scale deaths of honeybees reported over four continents in the past few years.  The mass bee deaths are NOT a natural phenomenon, but the global mass bee deaths have been linked DIRECTLY to wide spread use of pesticides and chemicals passed by our own health and agriculture agencies.  These are the same organizations who are suppose to protect the environment and protect our health.  Huh?  What happened?

As mentioned across most news sources, a 2013 report by the United States Department of Agriculture highlights the continuing large scale deaths of honeybees, which are critical to our food chain.  Many environmental groups and the general public are baffled by why and how the Environmental Protection Agency has decided to APPROVE new pesticides that are HIGHLY TOXIC to honeybees.  These same pesticides are linked to what is commonly referred to as the Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD and a “honeybee pollination crisis” around the world.

The Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder or the mass bee deaths around  the United States alone would highly strain OVER 100 CROPS worth over $200 BILLION GLOBALLY PER YEAR!

The vegetables and fruits that are most susceptible to the global mass bee death caused by the Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder would be, APPLES, PLUMS, AVOCADOS AND ZUCCHINIS.

Other secondary crops affected by the mass bee deaths caused by CCD or Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder includes ORANGES, CUCUMBERS, AND OTHER FLOWERING FRUIT TYPES.  These crops are worth even more than the $200 billion globally per year quoted above!




A new USDA (US Department of Agriculture) Report talks about the massive decline of honeybee colonies that is a cause for alarm.  The long term issue is now at a critical stage and is close to being non-reversible if the problem is left too long.  The USDA Report on the massive decline of honeybee colonies does not provide any immediate solutions nor does it explain any direct link.  Here are more facts and figures from the USDA Report on the decline of honeybee colonies in the United States:

In 1947, there were approximately 6 million honeybee colonies in the US.  By 1990, the honeybee colonies plummeted to 3 million in the United States. And by 2013, the honeybee colonies now stand at only 2.5 million in the US.

Commercial honey bee colonies would expect to lose about 10-15% per year, but in the past 5 years (ever since neonicotinoid pesticides have been more prevalent in crops), they have declined dramatically from 28-33% PER YEAR!

The USDA Report cites “multiple factors … including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition, drought/environmental factors  and pesticide exposure” as contributing factors to the  massive decline in honeybee colonies in the US.

Local activists and environmentalists believe that the main factor causing the Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD are highly toxic chemicals and crop pesticides.  Beyond Pesticides, which is one such group, seems convinced that the insecticide SULFOXAFLOR is directly responsible for the honey bee colony collapse in the United States.  The EPA or Environmental Protection Agency just passed the use of the SULFOXAFLOR pesticide for use on all crops … which many people believe is highly toxic to honey bees.





Hmmm … something doesn’t sit well when there is a discrepancy between how global environmental protection agencies have different views on pesticides and chemicals used in our daily lives.  Just in April 2013, the EU BANNED the use of ALL NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDES which includes SULFOXAFLOR which is a “4th generation neonicotinoid”.   This was in the wake of the declining honeybee populations in the European Union member countries.  The 2 year moratorium on NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDES including SULFOXAFLOR will be used to study its effects on the honeybee population as well as to learn more about the Colony Collapse Disorder that is currently affecting the EU as well.  Here are more facts and figures:

The Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD mass bee deaths have been happening in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands.

The European Food Safety Agency has stated that the neonicotinoid pesticides pose an “unacceptable risk to bees and their use should be restricted” at all costs.

The EFSA also mentions that “habitat loss and pathogens, a growing body of science points to neonicotinoid pesticides as a key contributing factor in drastically declining bee populations”.

Obviously, major pesticide manufacturers disagree with the two year EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides and sulfoxaflor which was recently approved in the US for use on crops.  Both Bayer CropScience and Monsanto have scoffed at these findings and even questioned the decline of honeybee populations throughout the world.

The USDA and EPA believe that more research needs to be conducted in order to understand this Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder.  Furthermore, they believe that the research and analysis must be done in a “very slow review of the evidence”.  They currently believe that the honey bee population decline in the US is due to a parasitic mite called Varroa destructor, a bacterial disease called European foulbrood in addition to the use of pesticides including neonicotinoids which is a neuroactive chemical.  However, the USDA and EPA are not directly linking neonicotinoids to the problem of the US Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder.

The USDA report and EPA review will take at least an additional 5 years.  As of early 2013, the US honeybee population is not at a 50 year low.


What do you think about the approval of SULFOXAFLOR in the US while the same chemical pesticides have been banned in the EU?  Please sound off and give us your opinion and COMMENT BELOW!


More information about the honey bee colony collapse world wide here:


Reversing the collapse of the honey bee industry from CBC (Canada)

The European Union has banned an insecticide they believe is killing off honey bees. Some Canadians are calling for a ban too. But many farmers say the science isn’t in yet so don’t make them stop using a chemical that’s so important for protecting their crops.



The Plight of the Honeybee from National Geographic

Bees are back in the news this spring, if not back in fields pollinating this summer’s crops. The European Union (EU) has announced that it will ban, for two years, the use of neonicotinoids, the much-maligned pesticide group often fingered in honeybee declines. The U.S. hasn’t followed suit, though this year a group of beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups sued the EPA for not doing enough to protect bees from the pesticide onslaught.


US approves new pesticides linked to mass bee deaths as EU enacts ban from RT

In the wake of a massive US Department of Agriculture report highlighting the continuing large-scale death of honeybees, environmental groups are left wondering why the Environmental Protection Agency has decided to approve a “highly toxic” new pesticide.


Third of US honey bees killed last winter, threatening food supply from Wired

Nearly one in three commercial honeybee colonies in the United States died or disappeared last winter, an unsustainable decline that threatens the nation’s food supply.


Mass honeybee deaths linked to insecticides from the CBC

In an effort to reduce health risks to honeybees, Ontario’s agriculture ministry is asking grain farmers to take extra care when planting crops this spring. A Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs entomologist said that “virtually all corn seed” is treated with a neonicotinoid insecticide, which could pose a threat to the health of honey bees. Tracey Baute said “neonicotinoid contaminated dust” is eventually carried into the air and could be linked to the death of thousands of bees.


Basic Honey Bee Facts

Honey bees receive more attention than any other insect, but they are one of the most important to our biological system. Find out what a honey bee is and why colony collapse disorder is threatening their population and our food supply.


What do you think about the approval of SULFOXAFLOR in the US while the same chemical pesticides have been banned in the EU? Please sound off and give us your opinion and COMMENT BELOW!

NEWS > Active Learning New York School Goes All-Vegetarian

Active Learning Elementary School is the first US school to go ALL-VEGETARIAN!

As of January 2013, the Active Learning Elementary School in Queens New York, NY began offering all vegetarian meals for ALL of its students.  According to a CNN Report, the all vegetarian Queens New York school sees health and nutrition as part of educating the whole child.  For us at Just Add Good Stuff, this is incredible news!  We’ve always believed that there was something wrong and something missing with our current educational system.  From elementary to high school, our students are NOT taught anything about 2 of lives most important things: health/nutrition eduction and financial education.  It looks like Active Learning Elementary School has some forward planning and forward thinking educational professionals leading the way!

As of May 2013, the all vegetarian New York elementary school has moved to all-vegetarian meals five days a week. The Active Learning Elementary School in Queens has nearly 400 students, from pre-kindergarten to third grade, and was founded five years ago on the principle that a healthy lifestyle leads to strong academic achievement.

“We decided on a vision where health and nutrition would be a part of educating the whole child,” school principal Bob Groff said.

The New York vegetarian elementary school first went meatless three days a week in mid 2012. It also tested meals on a small group of students, gathering feedback and changing the menu accordingly. The New York Department of Education also noted that many of the students attending the Active Learning Elementary School were already more accustomed to eating more vegetarian/clean eating diets than most US students.  This is because almost 85% of all students here were of Hispanic or Asian decent … who’s diets have always been more notably ‘vegetarian’.  Many vegetarian Active Learning New York students were used to vegetarian meals at home too.

One of the sticky points with an all-vegetarian student meal in New York and the United States is that it has to be approved by the USDA.  In most cases, the USDA just wants to make sure that the proper mix of nutrition and nutritional foods are consumed by students of all ages.

The hardest part to adhere to is the amount of PROTEIN PER SERVING as no animal meats were being served at the all vegetarian New York school.  Officials said that it was a combination of routine (the routine of eating animal proteins) as well as the lack of education (that many vegetables and whole foods have adequate amounts of plant based proteins per serving) that were tough to understand.  In the end, the Active Learning New York vegetarian school opted to serve more tofu, roasted chickpeas, vegetarian chili, brown rice or falafel in their all vegetarian meals.

Students appear to be enthusiastic about their healthy meals. When you’re healthy, you can do better on tests and you can fight more diseases.

Currently, New York schools, which provide meals for 1.1 million students daily, offer principals vegetarian and non-vegetarian lunch options.

We are really impressed with what the Active Learning Elementary School has done in adopting an all-vegetarian mindset in combination with educating our children about health and nutrition.  This is ground-breaking and we are hopeful that other New York schools will also do the same.

Click here for the original CNN article: New York school goes all-vegetarian.