By now, pretty much everyone has seen the latest creation from Starbucks. Pink and blue and sprinkled with magical “fairy powder” (their words, not mine), the Unicorn Frappuccino® is quite possibly the most Instagrammable drink to hit the Internet since – ever. If you haven’t seen it, just look here.
While Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino® is undoubtedly alluring, the ingredients that make it look so pretty are anything but. Of course, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Starbucks is probably more famous for its high-calorie drinks than it is for its coffee. And holy cow – are they high calorie.
What’s in Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino®?
For starters, Starbucks makes its fancy beverages with whole milk and whipped cream unless you ask for non-dairy. A grande Unicorn Frappuccino® has 410 calories and 59 grams of sugar. To put this in perspective, that’s about 15 teaspoons of sugar in your cup. That’s more than two times the amount of sugar in a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar (24 grams) and more than one and a half times the amount of added sugar that’s recommended for the human body in a whole day.
Even if you were to order a Unicorn Frappuccino® with almond milk and no whipped cream, a closer look at the ingredients reveals that the blue drizzle contains condensed skim milk, which is totally not vegan. So, since Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino® is off the table for us plant-based people, I decided to see if I could whip up my own healthy vegan unicorn smoothie with whole foods and zero refined sugar. Drum roll please…
Healthy Vegan Unicorn Smoothie
Behold: our Healthy Vegan Unicorn Smoothie. Those gorgeous pinks and blues are all thanks to beets, strawberries, raspberries, and spirulina. Not a drop of artificial color in sight. If you’ve never had spirulina, it’s extremely high in nutrients and has a bit of a murky taste (it is blue-green algae, after all). You can find it with the supplements and protein powder at any natural grocer. If you want a super bright blue, look for a brand called Blue Majik. Most other brands produce a more blue-green color.
If you make our Healthy Vegan Unicorn Smoothie, be sure to post a photo on Instagram and tag @well_vegan! We can’t wait to see your mythical creations.Print
For the smoothie
- ½ medium beet, sliced into quarters
- 2 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
- 4 dates, pitted
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- 1 cup almond milk
For the blue swirl
- ¼ tsp. spirulina powder
- 1 banana, frozen
- 2 Tbsp. almond milk
For the whipped coconut topping
- 1 can coconut milk (refrigerated 8 hours or overnight)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. freeze dried strawberries, crushed into a fine powder*
- Fill a stock pot with a few inches of water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Fit the pot with a steamer basket and arrange the beet slices in a single layer. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the beets are fork tender. Set beets aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, make the blue swirl by combining the spirulina powder, banana, and 2 tablespoons of almond milk in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding a touch more almond milk as necessary to keep things moving. The result should be thick, like the texture of soft serve ice cream. Scrape the banana mixture into a plastic bag (I used a snack sized Ziplock bag), seal, and put it in the refrigerator to stay cold while you make the smoothie. Rinse out your blender.
- When the beets are cool enough to handle, gently peel off the skin and discard. Add the beets to your blender along with the strawberries, raspberries, dates, hemp seeds, and almond milk. If you used fresh berries, throw a few ice cubes in the blender, too. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- To make the coconut whipped topping, open your refrigerated can of coconut milk from the bottom. Scoop the solid stuff into a medium mixing bowl, leaving the liquid in the can. Add the vanilla to the bowl and use a hand mixer whip until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the coconut whipped topping to a plastic bag (I used a quart sized freezer Ziplock bag) and seal the top.
- Snip a small hole in one of the bottom corners of the bag with the blue banana mixture. Hold a drinking glass in one hand and use your other hand to gently squeeze some of the mixture on the inside walls of the glass. Then pour in the pink beet mixture and fill the glass to the top. Use a spoon or straw to swirl the blue mixture around.
- Snip a slightly larger hole in a corner of the bag with the coconut whipped topping. Using a circular motion, swirl it on top of the smoothie. Dust with the crushed freeze dried strawberries and serve chilled.
*You can crush the freeze dried strawberries by smashing them in a plastic bag or by zapping them in a food processor for a few seconds. I sifted mine through a fine mesh tea ball to get a very fine powder.
*Prep time does not include the 8 hours required to chill the coconut milk in the refrigerator.