~ The perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! This fun, delicious, simple, and healthy version of the Shamrock Shake is just bursting with nutrition! With no artificial colors, too! You’ll be shocked at how healthy this copycat Shamrock Shake is … yet it tastes just like its namesake original! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Vegetarian • Gluten Free •
lá sona ú Pádraig
It means “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”
I have to admit … I’m kinda super excited about this particular St. Paddy’s day, since I’ve recently discovered a tiny (teeeeeny) bit of Irish ancestry.
You see, last year my oldest kiddo had to do a family tree project, and even after the project was finished, I was fascinated by the whole process and kept digging to uncover more info. And … I found out that I actually have some Irish ancestors!
(Ummmmmm … confession: I may or may not sometimes talk in an Irish accent and dance little jigs around the house. My husband just shakes his head and asks if I’m trying to reconnect with my people. Yes, yes, in fact I am. I can feel the Irish just pulsing through my veins! I may start to call myself O’Gretchen. No? Too far?)
Irish heritage or not, how do you celebrate St. Paddy’s?
Maybe a parade? Does your city put green dye in the rivers? How about green eggs for breakfast? Maybe you live near Savannah, Georgia or Boston, Massachusetts where March 17th is considered a legal holiday. A legal holiday. Like, recognized.
But what if you don’t live near a city that celebrates with a parade or a green river?
Well, you could wear green (yeah, yeah … that’s a given).
Or you could swing by McDonald’s to get the long-anticipated Shamrock Shake. That’s ok … no, wait … well …
I get it. Shelley and I both remember back when we were kids, waiting and waiting for March to come around because it meant that we’d get that creamy mint shake. It.was.awesome.
But now we’re moms, and we want to feed our kids the best and most nutritious foods. Those Shamrock Shakes were just begging to be THK-ified!
Still, we knew that we’d have to use our very best thinking caps to figure out this transformation!
It all started way back (ok, a few months ago) when we were planning our editorial calendar for 2014, and we saw that St. Patrick’s Day was fast approaching. I proclaimed, “Ohhhh … a Shamrock Shake!” at the same moment Shelley announced, “Yummm … green smoothies!”
Hmmm … how could those two ideas become one? It’s quite simple, actually!
When we initially started testing for this recipe, we knew that food coloring wasn’t going to be an option. So here’s where that promised superfood comes in …
It’s … SPINACH!!! Gorgeous, naturally green-colored and loaded with mega nutrition!
Before you wrinkle up your nose in that “something-smells-bad” face, just hear me out.
You TOTALLY can’t taste the spinach! Promise. Cross my heart. Pinky swear, too.
That’s one of the reasons that spinach works so well in smoothies – raw baby spinach just doesn’t have all that much flavor!
Between our two families, none of our kids (not one of them!) could detect even a hint of spinach in these shakes. And when they found out, they all just kinda shook their heads (they’ve been down this sort of THK road before) … and then continued happily slurping away!
Seriously – not joking! These milkshakes are fully kid-tested and kid-approved!
Now you might be thinking, “But why is THK recommending frozen yogurt or even ice cream??”
First, remember, these are for a treat. And also remember, we are real people! We certainly don’t recommend that you eat the entire carton of ice cream at once … but a life lived with moderation is a happy life! And there are lots of pretty terrific light ice creams and frozen yogurts on the market that have decent ingredient lists, taste fabulous, and are relatively low-fat. AND don’t forget there are three cups of spinach in there! THREE CUPS!!!
To tell the truth, though, we really, really wanted this to work with Greek yogurt – even frozen Greek yogurt (because, you know – that would have been nutritious beyond belief).
We tried. We truly did.
But after several batches of Greek yogurt concoctions (that weren’t so delicious), we decided to ditch the Greek yogurt altogether and embrace the milkshake side of this idea.
And it was good. It was very, very good.
As in: the kids have been begging for these THK-ified Shamrock Shakes consistently for the last two months since this recipe was born. (Apologies to those in our town who may have noticed our stores coming perilously close to running out of spinach!)
And so there you have it … the nutrition of a spinach-loaded green smoothie, with the creamy goodness of a milkshake (a Shamrock Shake, to be exact)!
These frosty cups are the perfect addition to your festivities, whether you’re dying an entire river green or just donning a shamrock-green sweater!
So put on your dancin’ shoes – we’re doing the jig!
And … lá sona ú Pádraig!
- 3 cups loosely but firmly packed baby spinach (about 2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup non-fat milk
- 3/16 teaspoon mint extract (not peppermint – see note)
- 2 cups of your favorite reduced-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (not frozen Greek yogurt)
- In a blender, combine spinach, milk and extract until spinach is completely incorporated, with no tiny green pieces visible, scraping down the sides two or three times as needed. The mixture will be whipped and frothy.
- Add ice cream and blend just briefly until smooth and completely mixed, scraping down sides if needed. Do not over-blend or the milkshakes won't be as thick.
- Serve immediately.
Mint Extract: Be sure to purchase extract labeled as "mint" and not "peppermint." Mint extract contains oils from both spearmint and peppermint, and pure peppermint extract absolutely won't taste right in this milkshake. Also, we realize that 3/16 teaspoon is an unusual measurement, but through our testing, we consistently found that ⅛ teaspoon wasn't quite enough, but ¼ teaspoon was too much. Unless you own a 1/16 teaspoon measure, just fill your ⅛ teaspoon once, then estimate as you fill it about half full again. Alternately, you could use a scant ¼ teaspoon. That should be close enough, and you can adjust the amount of extract to taste.
Separation: Similar to many smoothies, this milkshake will begin to separate upon standing. If that happens, just give it a swirl with a spoon, or briefly reblend any milkshake still in the blender container.