This refreshing, flavorful smoothie is bound to make your toes tingle. Peppermint and cucumber combine so well to create this hydrating Minty Shamrockin' Shake.
This was designed to be a healthier replacement for the McDonald's Shamrock Shake that comes out this time of year. I used to feel like I missed out because I never experienced that green shake that people stood in line for. Not anymore though. Now, I get to drink this Shamrockin' Shake and know that it's treating my body well with nutrients, anti-inflammatory compounds, and a much lower sugar content.
Not so fun fact of the day: did you know that a small Shamrock Shake contains 63 grams of sugar and a large contains 113 grams? That's the equivalent of 15 - 27 teaspoons of sugar in one beverage! The majority of this sugar is coming from high-fructose corn syrup, which is a cheap syrup typically made from GMO corn. You see, the liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose sugar. When we eat high amounts of sugar, we tax the liver and it cannot keep up so it then takes the excess sugar and stores it as body fat. High fructose corn syrup is linked with fatty liver, insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It is incredibly important that we read labels and reduce refined/processed sugars as much as possible for the health of our body and mind. In fact, that even goes for natural sugars. Sugar is sugar and it acts the same way in the body, so let's try to be mindful about what sugars we are electing to consume and do so in moderation.
In an effort to make a Minty Shamrockin' Shake that contains less sugar, no artificial flavorings or chemicals, and adds nutritional benefits, I didn't have to work very hard. I used fresh produce, peppermint oil, and dates to sweeten this beverage. Dates are a natural sweetener that include insoluble and soluble fiber, contain vitamins and minerals, and have been proven to reduce cholesterol. Some people even find that dates boost energy, so they consume them as a pre-workout snack. This dark brown fruit is typically found in its dried form, which does increase the amount of sugar it contains. As with anything, eat dates in moderation, but feel good about electing these over high fructose corn syrup. You can find dates in the produce section or bulk sections of your natural grocery store. I elect to purchase them from the bulk section when possible, so that I can purchase a few (verses a large pack that may lead to over-indulging). Look for softer dates that still have their skin intact and store them in your refrigerator to increase their lifespan.
Peppermint is the key flavor in this shake. It is great for soothing upset stomachs, supporting digestion, headaches, stress, and hay fever. The only time I would suggest that someone stay away from mint is if they are currently suffering from acid reflux. Since mint is so relaxing, it can over-relax the esophageal sphincter allowing food to come back up. Nobody wants that.
Enjoy this refreshing shake and keep in mind that this falls into the category of dessert smoothies. This is a once in awhile healthier treat. I would not recommend drinking this on a daily or weekly basis, due to the added sugar from the dates and chocolate chips (if using). Cacao nibs will greatly reduce the sugar content and you can also play with using less dates, if you'd like.
Minty Shamrockin’ Shake
Prep time: 5 min.
Makes: 1 large serving or 2 small
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other df milk of choice)
- 2 handfuls of spinach or other dark leafy greens (~2 cups)
- 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
- 1/4 avocado
- 2 - 3 pitted dates (soak 5 min. in warm water to soften before use)
- ~ 1/8 tsp. peppermint extract* (start with less and increase to your liking)
- 1 - 2 Tbs. dairy free dark chocolate chips (or cacao nibs for sugar free option)
- 1 cup ice
- Optional: 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds, grass-fed collagen, or unsweetened protein powder
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Top with cacao nibs for added crunch.
* Alternatively, you can substitute 1 drop of food grade peppermint essential oil or ¼ cup fresh mint for the peppermint extract.
Prep: Wash and spin-dry your greens the night before for a quicker start in the morning. Store in a sealed container in the fridge until you’re ready to blend.
Reduce Sugar: We suggest starting with 1 or 2 dates to reduce the sugar content. If this is your first green smoothie and you haven't reduced sugar before, then enjoy with 3 dates and try to reduce over time.
Chocolate Balance: You get to choose how much chocolate is in your shake! Start with 1 Tbsp. if you want a mintier shake. Increase by a few chocolate chips, if you're looking for more of a chocolate mint combo.
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