Who doesn’t love St. Patrick’s Day? We eat green foods, we drink green drinks, we listen to toe tapping, get up and dance music, we wear funny green hats and we dream of rainbows and leprechaun’s and pots of gold – and we have a lot of fun with family and friends! And did I mention green food and drinks!
Who doesn’t remember Shamrock shakes and green beer and Lucky Charms?
While the green food and drinks are festive and fun, they are often filled with sugars and nasty green food dyes. Now that we are all grown up and much smarter about what we eat, we might not want to put that stuff in our bodies. But we don’t have to miss out on all the fun when we are trying to eat and drink well.
Everything is Green!
When we think about St. Paddy’s day we think GREEN. We dress green, we decorate in green and gold and we tend to eat green food and drinks – either green, naturally, or dyed
green. Oh the years of hitting the local Irish pub, dancing the night away and drinking a few (or more) green beers. Our lips would be green our tongues would be green and I, at the time, never even thought about what was making it green. But I do now. Food dye.
Yellow and Blue make Green. Yellow #5 (also known as tartrazine) and Blue #1 (as noted below in the Shamrock Shakes) are used to make some food and drinks green. Artificial ingredients like food dyes have pervaded our food supply and have contributed to many health issues like allergies, asthma, ADHD and cancer. Yellow 5, for example, contains benzene, a known carcinogen. It has been linked to hyperactivity in children and it is still added to our foods and drinks and we still continue to consume it.
So skip the artificial dyes and try some other great ways to add a bit of natural green colour to your food and drink - spinach is the most popular and I find that when you add a bit of fresh spinach leaves (and blend it in really well) you can't even tell that it is there. Note - dried spinach has a bit of a hay taste so beware! Avocado is also another way to get a nice light green colour while adding a richness and creaminess to the texture.
St. Patrick's Day Green Foods
Now don’t think that I am going to tell you to eat a big serving of broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts and a side of avocado! I wouldn’t do that to you😊 It is a day to celebrate, so let’s make sure the food and drink is good - as well as good for you.
The Shamrock Shake
We all have memories of hopping in the paneled station wagon and heading to McD’s with the fam for that long awaited super green, super sweet Shamrock Shake. But before you go supersizing it, let’s take a look at all that it has to offer.
A small McDonald’s Shamrock Shake contains 460 calories and 63g of sugar, yes your read that correctly, 63g of sugar. That is a LOT of sugar for one small shake and that much sugar should not be consumed in all the food that you eat for a whole day, let alone in one drink. And this is marketed to kids. Shame.
The average adult consumes their own weight in sugar annually. How does that happen!?! Sadly, drinking these and other sugar laden treats daily will get you there. If you google how much sugar should you eat a day, it says that the "experts will say to cap it at 50g" but I would definitely recommend a much lower cap.
And what is in it? McDonald’s says that there are only 3 simple ingredients in their Shamrock Shake: Vanilla Reduced fat ice cream (I don’t think it is the fat that we should be concerned about in this shake), Shamrock shake syrup and whipped light cream. Well, that sounds simple. But, what is IN those 3 simple ingredients?
Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream
Ingredients: Milk, Sugar, Cream, Corn Syrup, Natural Flavor, Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate
Shamrock Shake Syrup
Ingredients: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Natural Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Yellow 5, Blue 1
Whipped Light Cream
Ingredients: Cream, Nonfat Milk, Liquid Sugar, Contains 2% or Less: Mono and Diglycerides, Natural Flavors, Carrageenan. Whipping Propellant (Nitrous Oxide)
There are more than a few ingredients that I would want to stay away from listed here (dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers etc.), but for now let’s just take a look at the sugars listed; sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup. Not a great line up.
The Healthier Shamrock Shake
So how do we re-create all that yummy goodness and not go into sugar shock?
I have looked a quite a few healthy shamrock shake recipes from various amazing blogs and recipe sites and truthfully I wanted to try them all.
But I can't recommend them all, so what should I do?
Test and sample of course - as many as necessary! Research is tough.
My little leprechauns and I tested a bunch - we mixed and matched ingredients and we came up with this one as our favourite.
Our Healthy Shamrock-like-Shake Recipe (makes 2 small shakes)
3/4 cup coconut milk (carton not canned)
1/4 cup either whipped cream or coconut cream (the solid part of canned coconut) *Optional for a bit more of a thicker shake
1 frozen banana
1/4 cup spinach * Optional for colour and use only if you have a good blender!
1/2 tsp mint
1/2 tsp stevia (or other sweetener)
2 pinches of sea salt
- After all is blended up you can add a few sugar free chocolate chips or cocoa nibs for a bit of chocolatey goodness!
- This shake is strong on the banana taste side, so if you want to scale back on that and let the minty taste really pop, put in 1/2 frozen banana (instead of a full banana) and add 1/4 cup of ice.
Other Frozen Favourites
If you have an ice cream maker try this delicious Minty Chocolate Chip Ice Cream recipe:
1 can coconut milk (from the can)
2 tbsp. coconut oil
2-3 tbsp. maple syrup (or you can use a sugar free sweetener like liquid stevia or monk fruit)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 to 1 tsp. pure mint extract (depending on how minty you like it)
- whisk ingredients for 1 minute
- add a handful of sugar free chocolate chips (small are best if you can find them) or cocoa nibs and stir them in
- follow the directions for your ice cream maker. I refrigerate my combined ingredients for 1 to 2 hours and then set in ice cream maker for 15-20 minutes
Note - this pic is not a pic of the actual ice cream from this recipe - in an ice cream maker it is a bit softer - but this was a yummy looking ice cream pic - for inspiration :)
Green Sides or Mains
These might be great additions to your St. Patrick's Day menu - Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner!
Check out these fun Green Pancakes (Gluten and dye free) from Spabettie.com I love her ideas to make breakfast sandwiches with them. Love. Love. Love.
(Photo of these lovely pancakes are from spabettie.com )
Easy Cream of Broccoli Soup
This broccoli soup recipe from femininehealthclub.com is super low carb and dairy free - perfect even for a candida diet!
Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing
Is there a Pot of Gold under that Rainbow?
While I haven't tried this recipe personally, I want to. I LOVE chia pudding and with all of these yummy looking fruits this looks like a perfect St. Patrick's Day -
or any day - recipe!
(photo from creativegreenliving.com )
If you give this one a try, or any of the recipes above, let me know how they turn out!
The Bottom Line
Healthy doesn’t mean it has to taste bad!
So how ever you decide to celebrate this festive day, remember you can still have your yummy green food and drink without the dyes and sugars and preservatives!
Kick your heels up and have some fun with family and friends. We are all a little Irish on St. Paddy’s Day so get out there and celebrate!