Food Facts · Holidays

The color red(40) wrecked our family Christmas!

A season as red as Rudolph’s nose.


As I pack up all the Christmas decorations and put them back in storage, all the shiny red ornaments give me reason to pause and reflect on how the color red almost broke my family’s Christmas spirit this year.  We recently discovered through basic trial and error that our oldest son is sensitive to food dyes.  If he consumes too much of them it results in loss of impulse control, hyperactivity, and trouble focusing on school work.

I used to think this kind of thing was science fiction until the day my son thanked me for removing food dyes from his diet and helped his brain not “buzz” anymore.

This is a subject that I am just beginning to understand. I plan to share more of our experiences in the future.  Nevertheless, if you are curious to learn more right now I highly recommend taking time to view this 20-minute video by Dr. Rebecca Bevans.

Red is for love. We love peppermint cupcakes!

For our church’s annual Christmas gathering, everyone was asked to bring a dessert to share.  I always feel that it’s important for our boys be able to safely enjoy at least one fun treat along with everyone else at group events.  So what could I possibly make that was allergy-safe, tasty for all, and holiday appropriate?  Personally, I have never been skilled at baking from scratch much less baking gluten-free.  Also, with so many other food allergies to manage it’s easy for me to get discouraged when needing to avoid food dyes as well.  Thankfully, there are many wonderful gluten-free bakers and companies out there to help us along.  My youngest and I had a blast making these (dye free, dairy free, egg free, gluten-free) peppermint cupcakes.  They may just become a new Christmas tradition for us!

Peppermint Cupcakes

  1. Choose your favorite way of making cupcakes.  My favorite method so far is Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes for both cakes and cookies.  They are one of the few companies I’ve found who produce gluten-free mixes that work well without egg and taste yummy!IMG_20171203_164720920.jpg

Tip ~ I have gotten the best tasting results from these mixes when I make sure to bake, cool, and frost the cake or cupcakes all in the same day.  Gluten-free baked goods tend to dry out too easily on the counter and are not as resilient as their wheat-based cousins.

     2. Whip up the peppermint frosting.


1/2 cup dairy-free, soy-free butter substitute ( We use Earth Balance.)

2 Tablespoons dairy-free milk of your choice (We use Pacific original rice milk.)

2 to 2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2-6 drops peppermint essential oil ( My favorite peppermint oil is available here.


Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and stir until a smooth frosting is achieved. A basic hand mixer makes this a breeze.

~ Begin with the 2 cups of sugar, and add more sugar as needed to get the consistency you like.

~ You may also alter the amount of milk as needed. Add just a teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

~ Enjoy topping your cooled gluten-free cupcakes. 🙂

Adapted from:

3. Decorate cupcakes with crushed dye-free candy canes.  We used Wholesome Organic Candy Canes from our local grocery store.


For added festive fun, we used Santa themed cupcake papers as well!


These cupcakes were a huge hit with everyone, not just our boys.  We made two dozen to share at our church’s event and only brought back eight!  Of course, those last few were gone within a couple of days.  I think it was Santa’s elves 😉

Wishing you a simple, clean, and safe 2018.

Happy New Year!


5 thoughts on “The color red(40) wrecked our family Christmas!

  1. I have a good friend whose youngest son is allergic to red dye as well, and it produces many of the same symptoms in him. The last time I was out to eat with my friend she brought him along, and it was so cute when he asked our server “what do you have [to drink] that doesn’t have red dye?” (He’s 4!) Makes me wonder what I’m eating on a daily basis that I’m not thinking about when I start to feel all out of sorts!


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