Healthy Shamrock Shake

It is March and McDonald’s is already offering their St. Patty’s Day signature drink, the Shamrock Shake.  The tagline for this drink is “cool, minty and full of luck.”  Sounds great until you read the fine print.  It is not only full of empty calories but it contains chemicals, additives and food dyes.  The ingredients include sugar, liquid sugar, cream, high fructose corn syrup, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, carrageenan, palmitate (would need to Google this one) and more preservatives and dyes.

If you search on Pinterest there are tons of copycat recipes for this festive drink (some healthy and some not).  I set out to make a truly nutritious plant-based version that still has the signature minty and vanilla flavor that makes this creamy green drink so popular.

For the minty green color I used fresh mint leaves.  You could also add fresh baby spinach, baby kale, matcha (powdered green tea), moringa leaf powder and/or spirulinaSpirulina provides dietary protein, B-vitamins, and iron.  You could just use the mint and skip the spinach, kale, matcha, moringa leaf and spirulina if you are not interested in those particular smoothie boosters.  You can read about spirulina health benefits here and here.  If you do decide to add the matcha, moringa leaf powder and/or spirulina they definitely work well in this drink color-wise and their flavor is masked well by the fresh mint and vanilla bean flavor.  The spirulina will turn the shamrock shake a deeper green color.

Moringa leaf powder (Moringa oleifera) is known to be a natural energy booster without containing caffeine.  It is also believed to be good for digestion as well as having a calming, soothing, immune-boosting and detoxifying effect.  It is has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine it contains important minerals and is a good source of protein, vitamins, beta-carotene, amino acids and various phenolics. You can read more about the health benefits of moringa leaf powder from evidence-based sources here, here and here.  I love to add 1/2 teaspoon of the powder to my green smoothies.  

I love that this shake has the potential to sneak in tons of nutrients including two vegetables: frozen riced cauliflower and fresh baby kale or spinach if using.  It also offers plant-based protein from slivered almonds which helps to make the drink ultra-creamy.  I kept it naturally sweetened and refined sugar-free by using Medjool dates as the sweetener.  Personally, I like a frosty shake so I like to add two cups of ice at the end after the initial ingredients have blended together well.

I hope you enjoy my take on the classic Shamrock Shake.  I love to enjoy it on St. Patrick’s Day or really any day where I’m craving a refreshing, minty, creamy nutritious treat.  This recipe is vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free and peanut-free.  If you leave out the almonds and use oat milk it can be made nut-free.  If you give this recipe a try, please snap a pic and tag #eatingbyelaine and @eatingbyelaine on InstagramTwitter or Facebook so I can see your creations.

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Healthy Shamrock Shake

  • Author: Elaine Gordon
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Yield: 1-2 1x


An uber-healthy spin on the minty McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. This one is loaded with two veggies, plant-based protein, fiber and added nutrients from matcha and spirulina. It is naturally sweetened with dates and flavored with vanilla bean powder. I love to enjoy it as a special treat on St. Patrick’s Day.



  • 4 large Medjool dates, pitted (or 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup)
  • 15 large fresh mint leaves (or more if desired)*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain plant-milk (I like oat milk or almond milk best here)
  • 2 tablespoons raw unsalted cashews or raw unsalted blanched and slivered almonds (adds creaminess)
  • 2 cups ice cubes

Optional Nutritional Boosters:



  1. In a high speed blender, add the dates, mint, vanilla, cauliflower and milk. Blend until smooth. Add any of the optional add-ins if desired (i.e. slivered almonds, matcha, moringa leaf powder, spirulina, baby spinach or kale). Blend again until smooth.
  2. Add the 2 cups of ice and blend again until smooth and frosty.
  3. Serve immediately. Top with rice whipped cream if desired. Garnish with additional fresh mint leaves and a sprinkle of matcha if desired. Enjoy immediately.


If you add spirulina to the drink it will turn dark green as shown in the photos below.  Please note, spirulina adds a seaweed-like taste so only use a very little bit.  You may want to balance it out with more dates, mint and vanilla if you decide to add it.

*If you do not have fresh mint you can add peppermint extract.

If you add spirulina and lots of spinach or kale to the shamrock shake you will get a deeper green color that looks like the photos below.  

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