You’ve seen the over-the-top milkshakes and cakes full of rainbows and sparkle all over Instagram, but if all the food dye scares you, there’s an alternate solution. Sandra Mahut’s cookbook Unicorn Food ($13) teaches you how to create edible mermaids, unicorns, and rainbows in an all-natural way. Keep reading to learn the secret to her magic touch on these whimsical treats.

Brit + Co: What inspired you to write about unicorn food?

Sandra Mahut: I first heard about unicorn food from a friend who was living in New York. At the same time, I started to notice unicorn food coming through my Instagram feed and loved its rainbow colors. From there, I got inspired to research all the beautiful natural food colors — like blue spirulina or the beautiful color you get from purple carrots (they do exist!). I think my all-time favorite is the mermaid toast because it’s so easy — a bit like painting — and the results are stunning and different each time.

B+C: But isn’t food coloring just for desserts?

SM: Once I started experimenting with natural colors from different ingredients, I realized that there were endless possibilities to be creative — with soups, smoothies, noodles, cakes, biscuits. A great excuse to play in the kitchen! Who wouldn’t enjoy the simple pleasure of stirring blue spirulina into cream cheese to make a frosting for a special occasion cake — and adding some pretty, brightly colored, edible flowers to top it off?

B+C: Are natural versions really better than store-bought drops?

SM: So much of the fun and surprise of Unicorn Food is about the coloring being all-natural. Of course there are many artificial food colorings available, but a bigger feel-good factor comes with knowing that the rainbow colorings are healthy and naturally stunning — not chemically created. They’re so much better for all-round good health and for all the folks who love all things unicorn.

Unicorn frozen yogurt bites

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 silicone tray with heart- or star-shaped slots (or an ice cube tray)
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 grams) Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) sugar or 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • your choice of natural food colorings (at least three)
  • some strips of rainbow candy

Directions:

  1. Whisk the yogurt with the sugar and vanilla. Divide the mixture between as many bowls as you would like colors. Add the colorings to each bowl, and then mix in until you have the color you want.
  2. Fill a piping bag without a nozzle with spoonfuls of yogurt in each color, layering on top of one other. Fill the slots in the tray. The colors will mix.
  3. Place the bites in the freezer overnight.
  4. Unmold the bites and top each with a piece of rainbow candy to decorate.

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(Photo and recipes via Sandra Mahut / Quarto Publishing Group)