Starbucks made headlines this week with the limited release of their Unicorn Frappuccino. If you’re not familiar with this colorful drink, it’s a coffee-less milkshake made with a number of syrups, including vanilla, mango, and a blue-colored white mocha sauce, to make a sweet and tart flavored drink.
A barista at my local Starbucks told me that 8 of the 9 baristas who work at that location hated the flavor, so I wouldn’t run there to buy one before they’re gone. (Plus, a venti-sized cup of this drink has 76 grams of refined sugar. Eeek!)
Instead, I think you should make this GORGEOUS smoothie instead. It’s just as pretty as the fancy frappuccino, if you ask me, and it gets its natural magenta color from Pitaya, also known as Dragon Fruit. You can find pouches of Pitaya puree in the freezer section at Whole Foods. This unique fruit is loaded with antioxidants, and its seeds contain polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This dragon fruit smoothie tastes like a typical berry smoothie to me, so don’t be intimidated by it’s bright pink color or seeds.
What makes this “unicorn” drink look so special is the contrasting blue drizzle all around the sides of the cup. Starbucks makes their drizzle using a blue powder that is stirred into their white mocha sauce, but I made mine using spirulina, a blue-green algae that is high in protein, iron, calcium, and B-vitamins. It’s been called one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and is an ingredient we add to our morning shakes daily!
My homemade drizzle is a little more on the greenish side than Starbuck’s neon blue drizzle, but I think it looks just as good, without using any added sugar. I simply stirred the powdered spirulina into a spoonful of raw cashew butter and thinned the mixture with a splash of water. The flavor of this mix is almost neutral, since it is really just for looks, but it’s thick enough to stick to the sides of the glass without dripping when you pour in the shake. The taste will blend seamlessly into this naturally sweet smoothie as you drink it.
Adding a fluffy topping of dairy-free whipped cream, like this coconut whipped cream, and a sprinkling of crushed freeze-dried fruit (I used freeze-dried strawberries and blueberries) makes this drink look extra special for anyone who feels like they might be missing out on the fancy coffeehouse drink, but they are totally optional. However you serve yours, I hope you’ll enjoy this nutrient-rich and naturally-sweetened shake!
- 1 cup water (or almond milk)
- ¼ cup orange juice (or use more water)
- 1 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 (100 g) packet of frozen pitaya/dragon fruit puree
- To make the drizzle, stir together the cashew butter, spirulina, and water. The mixture should be thick and blueish-green in color. Scoop the mixture into a frosting bag or plastic bag for piping into the glass later, and set the bag aside in the freezer while you make the smoothie.
- To make the smoothie, combine the water, orange juice, mango, banana, and pitaya puree in a high-speed blender and blend until thick and smooth. (If you don't have a high-speed blender, you might need to add more water to help it blend.)
- To assemble the smoothie, cut the tip off of the plastic piping bag filled with the blue-green drizzle and pipe it around the sides of a glass. Pour the smoothie into the decorated glass, then top with whipped cream, if desired. Crush the freeze-dried strawberries and blueberries between your fingers to create "sprinkles" on top of the whipped cream, then serve!
Fun fact: According to their ingredient list, Starbucks actually uses spirulina to naturally dye their blue drizzle, too. I’m impressed that they at least use fruits and vegetables for coloring!
Since this colorful drink seems to be marketed towards kids, I’ll feel WAY better about feeding this fun smoothie to my family. It took me less than 15 minutes to prepare, and I got my son involved in making it at the same time. (Since he’s only 3 years old, the blue drizzle actually freaked him out… but maybe he’ll appreciate it in his “tween” years. Ha!) I hope you will enjoy it!
Reader Feedback: Did you try the Unicorn Frappuccino? I hope you’ll make this fun smoothie this weekend and impress all of your friends!