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If you are trying to avoid artificial dye, the holidays can be challenging. This week we took on the challenge of creating an artificial Dye-Free Gingerbread House and it really made the project fun. My kids are used to reading labels because we have one kid with a sensitivity to dye but it was a blast scouring the grocery store for colorful and dye-free decorations. The result was these Artificial Dye-Free Gingerbread Houses are still nice and colorful but don’t have any artificial dye so they are allergy friendly and mean no one has to miss out on the fun!
I’ve never worried much about food allergies. We have no family history so when I started having kids it just never crossed my radar. Then my third baby was born. When he was 9 months old he started throwing up uncontrollably and broke out in hives all over his body after I snuck him a spoonful of my soup.
We thought it would be a one-time thing but then it kept happening, always after he had eaten. We were dealing with a food allergy. We finally narrowed it down to several foods, including anything with certain types of artificial dye in them.
What drove me crazy were the comments. Once, after dropping my son off somewhere and telling them he couldn’t have food coloring, they gave it to him anyway. When I talked to them afterwards they said, “Oh, I thought it was just one of those ‘allergies’ that people think their kids have because it makes them hyper”.
Nope. He was sick for 24 hours.
Fortunately his allergy has turned into more of a sensitivity now that he is older but dealing with food allergies was a new experience for me and I didn’t realize before how hard it was to cut out an ingredient that is in so many foods. My son didn’t want to miss out on anything though, especially during the holidays when food is such a big part of the celebration so we came up with alternatives.
Artificial Dye-Free Gingerbread Houses
These graham cracker “gingerbread” houses are made completely free from any artificial dye. You can still have a nice colorful house without artificial dye. You just have to get a bit creative.
We like to make our “gingerbread” houses using Honey Maid graham crackers because it saves so much time and honestly, my kids like to eat them better so we made a quick trip over to our local Walmart to grab a few boxes.
Dye-Free Gingerbread Decorations
- dried fruit (dried apples, dried cranberries, dried strawberries, etc.)
- chocolate candies
- shredded coconut
- pumpkin seeds
- fresh herbs (mint would be awesome!)
- gummy candy flavored with vegetable dye
- icing colored with vegetable dye
- lollipops flavored with vegetable dye
We had good luck finding dye-free ingredients at our local grocery store but you could also order some specialty items online.
I was pretty proud of my almond shingle roof and our cute little trees made out of bean chips and a chocolate bar.
Assembling your Artificial Dye-Free Gingerbread House
To assemble your house, you will need a batch of royal icing and some Honey Maid graham crackers. We used this recipe for royal icing. It was easy to make. I was a bit weirded out at the idea of raw egg in my icing but she gives an alternative in the recipe.
You will have to cut your graham crackers to form a roof. Graham crackers don’t cut easily but it can be done. Use a serrated knife and gently saw back and forth. Avoid putting any downward pressure on the cracker. It takes a bit of patience but you can get a clean cut.
Get creative with your house design. Anything goes.
Use the royal icing to attach each graham cracker together. Let the base of your house dry completely before you start to decorate or you may have a wall collapse when you start to add things to it . . . not that we would know anything about that.
My house wasn’t very pretty when I first started. Don’t worry about making it perfect. You are going to cover it up with treats soon enough and most of the imperfections won’t show.
When you are done decorating you will have a festive holiday house that everyone can enjoy. Leave it up on display or let everyone dig in and eat it up! Mine sure didn’t last long. Once I set it out on the table my kids started picking at it but they sure enjoyed it!
Want more great #HoneyMaidHouse ideas? Check out the Honey Maid inspiration page.