In March of 1970, McDonald’s introduced the world to its homage to St. Patrick’s Day, a pale green potion of mouthwatering magnificence, known as the Shamrock Shake.
Since its creation, the Shamrock Shake has morphed into a seasonal icon, spawning countless copy cats and generating an avid fan following.
The problem is that, like many things fast food, the beverage isn’t especially healthy.
According to nutrition information found on the McDonald’s website, a 12 ounce Shamrock Shake contains 530 calories, 15 grams of fat (10 of them saturated fat), 73 grams of sugar, and 160 milligrams of sodium.
But, that doesn’t mean that the nutritionally-conscious among us must be forced to forgo one of the springtime’s most anticipated culinary creations. You can unleash your inner Irishman with a healthier, homemade version of this iconic drink.
The secret to a diet-friendly Shamrock Shake
Typically, pre-packaged, highly-processed shakes aren’t very healthy, especially for the elderly. But, a homemade smoothie is a wonderful way to enjoy a snack that is both tasty and nutritious.
The key is to make sure you only use all-natural ingredients. “Making your own shakes can also save a lot of money,”¯ says Ruth Frechman, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Here’s a senior-safe recipe based on McDonald’s minty creation:
- 6 ounces plain, low fat yogurt
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ tsp. peppermint extract
- All-natural sweetener to taste
- 2-3 drops green food coloring
- 5-7 ice cubes
Directions: Toss all of the above ingredients into a blender, press “blend,” and wait until the mixture has achieved the right thickness. Pour into a glass, or, if you really want to get into the spirit, a drinking horn, and enjoy.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that a homemade shake will taste the same as the fast-food version, but it’s certainly a healthier option.
Replacing the reduced fat vanilla ice cream used by McDonald’s with a yogurt and milk combination cuts down on the fat and may up the amount of bone-strengthening calcium and digestion-regulating probiotics in the drink. Opting for fat free or 1 percent milk can save even more calories, according to Frechman, author of, “The Food is My Friend Diet.”¯
Using a small amount of natural sweetener such as raw honey, agave nectar, or Stevia (a calorie-free natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant) significantly reduces the shake’s sugar amount and calorie count. It also makes the drink more diabetes-friendly because these sweeteners have low glycemic indexes, which means that, while they will raise blood sugar some, they won’t cause dangerous blood sugar spikes.
Of course, this recipe (while healthy and yummy) is still somewhat plain. There are ways to customize this basic formula to better fit your specific nutritional needs.
Keep reading to discover ideas for add-ins that can boost the health benefits of your homemade Shamrock Shake…