How you can make natural colours from your everyday food

Colour, colour which colour are you fond of … including colours in your diet, be careful that you don’t opt for the synthetic ones. Find out how you can make natural colours.

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Agreed colours make the world a better place, then why should our food be left out. Colourful food is visually appealing and easily increases appetite. Well if I had an option to choose between brown cornflakes and bright and colourful loops, I would definitely opt for the colourful loops. Let’s bet on this, your child will also opt for the colourful loops.

Children love colourful food and this is why one must keep experimenting all the time with food. They like to feel the textures and play around with their food. And if they get a nice and bright plate, they are all smiles. I have noticed the same with my daughter. The day there are 3-4 colours in her plate, she has a big smile quite contrary to when she is served plain dal and rice or chapati.

When it comes to colours in the food we often think of different fruit and vegetables. Why shouldn’t we, after all, these are healthy and the best way to ensure that we consume our minerals, fibre and vitamins. It is often said that the plate should be filled with the colours of a rainbow.

However, here I am talking about the colours that are added to our food. Food colours are used to enhance the quality, texture and the taste of food. These food colours are of 2 types – natural and synthetic. Undoubtedly, the natural ones are way safer than the synthetic ones. But the truth is that natural colours are not that bright when compared with the synthetic ones. Thus synthetic colours are used more in our foods. Also, synthetic colours are readily available and not as expensive as the synthetic ones.

Synthetic colours are believed to be linked to cancer of the bladder and the brain. They also affect a child’s concentration span and may lead to unknown allergies. These synthetic colours are added to the brightest candy and the most colourful birthday cake. They are silent killers and instead of providing any benefits to the child are causing a havoc in their little bodies.

The good news is that you can easily make natural colours at home and next time when you reach out for a colourful tart or add some edible colour to your red velvet cake, try out the natural alternatives which are derived from none other than the food in your kitchen.

Here is how you can make the bright and colourful natural colours:

Yellow: The sunshine colour is often used as a spice in our food. Turmeric powder, a well-known spice in the Indian kitchens gives food a nice yellow. Turmeric is known for its beneficial effects against cancer and inflammation. The health benefits of turmeric are obtained from flavinoids known as Curcuminoids. This is also responsible for the yellow colour. To bring variations in the colour add carrot juice or saffron.

Pink, Red and Magenta: For these colours, a number of fruit and vegetables like beetroot, cranberries, strawberries, pomegranate, raspberries and red carrots can be used. Beetroot gives a nice and deep red colour. I often make beetroot parathas for my daughter. She loves the colour and addresses them as power parathas. Strawberries give a pale light pink colour and make great milkshakes and even jam. Beetroot juice helps in healing the toxicity of the liver or any bile related ailments like hepatitis, food poisoning and jaundice. Also, drinking beetroot helps in constipation. See how power-packed is the humble beetroot. So next time around, when you plan to bake a red velvet cake then ditch the red edible colour and use grated beetroot. It gives an amazing colour and is nutritious too!

Green: This is one colour which all of us want our kids to eat … green vegetables – right! For this, there is none other than the Popeye’s favourite food – Spinach. It contains remarkable amounts of fibre, minerals(magnesium and potassium), vitamins (A, C, K1), folic acid, calcium, iron and important plant compounds like nitrates, lutein, zeaxanthin, kaempferol and quercetin. Spinach also boasts of many health benefits like prevents cancer and is good for eyes. Spinach can be used in puree form, juice or the leaves as it is. I often use spinach puree with pasta. It not only gives a nice green colour but is healthy as well. You can also add it to curds, dough for rotis, pooris and parathas.

Orange: Carrot juice give that nice peachy colour. Since carrots are sweet, children really don’t mind them in their lunch box or as a healthy snack. Carrots contain beta-carotene. This helps to slow down the ageing and also protects against the harsh sun. So next time around thinking of orange, eat or add carrot and defy your age. Also, try adding icing and vanilla essence to the carrot juice, it gives lovely orange for frosting and icing of cakes.

Blue and Purple: Blueberries give a nice purple colour. These are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. The beauty is that more blueberries you use, the darker colour you get. These berries can be used in frozen, strained, blended and thawed states. You can also try the red cabbage to make both blue and purple food colours. For the purple colour simply cut and boil the cabbage till the water is concentrated and dark. To obtain a blue colour from a red cabbage, slowly mix baking soda, bit by bit. This reacts with the cabbage juice and gives a nice blue.

These are some of the basic colours and few fruit and vegetables which I was aware of. There are other fruits, vegetables and even flowers which give great colours and can be easily added to our food on a daily basis. Not only this, but you can also incorporate these colours into desserts and frostings for cakes. Working with natural colours is very different and may not fetch the same results as synthetic colours. But the key here is to experiment and play around with natural colour. You never know you may land up finding that lovely lilac or salmon pink, or the tangy peach or the minty green. Most important, these are safe, healthy and fun.

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Shubhra Rastogi Written by:

Well, about me I can say that I am a certified dentist, healthcare analyst, medical writer and above all a mother of a 6-year-old. Most of my day to day activities revolve around her and she is my inspiration to start this blog. As a mother, I experimented with a lot of new things for my little one in a quest to find the best for her. I just want to share my experiences of being a happy and content mum.


  1. November 20, 2018

    So much good information here, Shubhra. Even adults need a variety of colours in food. In India, we tend to overcook vegetables, not realizing when the colours change they lose some of their good properties too.

  2. Shubhra Rastogi
    November 20, 2018

    Thanks, Corinne.

  3. November 21, 2018

    Excellent post on natural food coloring. I love the shades beetroot adds to food. It’s so important to know these tricks specially when kids are so fussy about eating. Really admire the efforts you are taking to keep everything healthy and natural in the kitchen.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      November 21, 2018

      Thanks, Rajlakshmi…

  4. November 21, 2018

    My mother used to prepare coconut barfi using the orange colour of the carrots and the dark pink of the beetroots. And they not only looked beautiful, but tasted great, too. It is always best to use natural colours to add some magic to our food than the synthetic ones. Sometimes, we use saffron to give the dish the orange colour…the aroma that wafts from the kitchen is heavenly and so is the look of the dish! 🙂

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      November 21, 2018

      I so agree with you, Shilpa…

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