06/12/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Keep Dyes, Preservatives and Sugar at Bay: A Scrumpious Recipe to Show You the Way

Leisa's girls enjoy their cupcakes

Have you ever looked at the ingredients in ready made frostings? Many of the ingredients that are found include dyes to formulate the pretty colors, artificial ingredients and preservatives to enhance the taste. Oh - and let's not forget lots and lots of sugar. Ah - a dream food for those with a sweet tooth and kids who go bonkers from the sugar high. Even in many homemade recipes, the average amount of sugar for a frosting recipe can range anywhere from one to two cups. For those who don't have time to bake cakes from scratch, there are some great boxed options for preservative free, low sugar cakes. Frosting on the other hand, presents a bit of a challenge.

There has been an ongoing debate for decades regarding the use of dyes to improve food, and singled out in many of these arguments is red food coloring. Despite the controversy, red dyes are still found in the ingredients lists of many boxed and canned frostings. Particularly in decorative frostings that are pink and purple. Red Dye Number 2 is a tar-based product known to cause constriction of the bronchial tubes, angioedema (swelling) and hives.

As we are all becoming more aware of the harmful effects of dyes, preservatives and high sugar, many families are trying to find healthier desserts. On a quest to research what was in our stores for a "healthier frosting", I was disappointed to find just one. The frosting was made by Cherry Brook Kitchen and did not have any preservatives, artificial colors or dyes. However, I was on a quest to find or create the perfect pink frosting for my four little girls. My healthy frosting quest become even more complicated, since red dye is used to create pink. Of course the frosting had to be PINK, PINK, PINK. So what was a chef to do with four demanding customers at her feet? I did what any chef would do even in the most stressful situations - EXPERIMENT. So the five of us put on our princess aprons, our thinking caps and rhinestone crowns. After many experiments in the kitchen, we found a quick, easy way to make pink frosting without the preservatives or dyes. Here is our super healthy semi- homemade recipe for Spring Tulip Cupcakes! A scrumptious recipe for a spring birthday party or a "girls day in".

The recipe from start to finish takes less than 30 minutes. Unless you have four sous-chefs who never stop chattering, get side tracked by using spatulas as microphones and lose the cupcake wrappers because they are now Barbie's new hat!


Cherrybrook Kitchen Yellow Cake Mix. My favorite boxed cake mix because it is nut free, dairy free, preservative free, gluten free, and very simple to make.

Tulip Cupcake Tower & Tulip Toppers (craft stores, ,,

Pink Frosting
One package of Philadelphia cream cheese
Frozen Organic Cherries
Powdered Sugar
Horizon Organic Milk

Mix one 8 oz package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, one tablespoon of powdered sugar & one tablespoon of organic milk. Mix on medium setting until creamy. Heat ½ cup of organic frozen cherries on stove or in microwave until liquid base. Heat on a very low setting. Pour ½ tablespoon of cherry juice into cream cheese base and start mixing again on medium speed. This is a bit experimental because you may need more if you want a darker pink color, so start with no more than ½ tablespoon. You may also add another tablespoon of sugar if you desire a sweeter frosting. Most recipes require one to two cups of sugar, so this amount is relatively low. The icing picks up the natural sweetness from the cherries with a mild tart kick and compliments the natural sweet tones of the cake.

Once cool, frost the cupcakes and top each one with a tulip topper. Voila - it looks just like something Martha would do!!

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