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!
Healthy Unicorn Smoothie
- 1 tablespoon raw cashew butter
- 1/8 teaspoon spirulina powder
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup water (or almond milk)
- 1/4 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
- Dairy-free whipped cream
- Freeze-dried strawberries
- Freeze-dried blueberries
- 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!
Per Serving: Calories: 192, Fat: 4g, Carbohydrates: 37, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 3g
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!
Questions and Reviews
Curious about your thoughts about dangers of spirulina as discussed by Dr. Michael Greger (nutritionfacts.org). You have mentioned in past blog posts that you follow his methodology. I would love to use spirulina, but have concerns after comments he has made on his website. Thanks so much!!
I am also interested in your response to Alex’s question. Will give this a try but looking to get more of your thoughts on the question as well thanks!!
I want to try it. But not like a full drink. If they offered a little shot glass of it just so I could know what it is like is all I really want. Yours looks magical too!
This is stunning! I have never heard of the starbucks unicorn drink before! x
Love it that you came up with a healthy alternative! So cool! Can’t wait to try it. Thank you.
Can’t wait to try this. When I saw the nutritional information for the Starbucks drink I said no thank you! And all of my friends are getting them for my kids! Ack
I tried the unicorn frapp at Starbucks today and it tasted awful! It was more exciting to walk around with it- I even had two ladies stop me to ask me if it was good! It tastes tart or sour at first which isn’t bad, but then has a milky-vanilla aftertaste; IMO the two contrasting flavors shouldn’t be paired together (maybe it mimics fruity sour milk?). Anyway! It’s just so beautiful that I held it for a few more minutes down 5th Avenue (NYC) before throwing it away. I love that Starbucks even experimented with a whimsical drink like that but Detoxinista’s version not only tastes so much better, it also looks just as magical (the color of dragon fruit is so intense!), and won’t have you arrive home and crash on your sofa for 3 hours after only having several sips of refined sugar.
My daughter and her friend had to try one right after her cheer.. When she got home she made me dip my finger in the whip cream with the glitter and GROSS!!! It tasted like vomit! Then took a little sip of the drink and tasted a bit better… So gonna have to try this healthier one and get them all jealous of how good this one will taste ? Cause the other one won’t be hard to beat in taste!!!
I’m disgusted by the Starbucks version (and its hype), but YOUR version looks and sounds delicious and fabulous!
You ?? are ?? a ?? genius??
Do you have the nutritional content for your version of this smoothie? Much healthier, but would love a sugar gram estimate. Thanks!
By my calculations, it’s 54 grams of sugar plus whatever the powdered raspberries, blueberries and whip cream add.
Definitely making this one. I am hoping our T&T has frozen dragon fruit, as Whole Foods is out of the way a bit. I i cannot find it i will use frozen raspberries. I think E3 live has a blueish algae but might be too liquidey to sub in. I am sure it would work somehow with a bit of adjustments.
Thanks for creating and posting:)
I saw this post and had to make it. I was unable to find the puree at Whole Foods but found frozen chunks from the same brand at another large grocery store (Publix). I had literally no desire to try the Starbucks drink but had to try yours! Made it today for myself and my son and we LOVED it! Delicious and gorgeous to look at! Thanks for being so creative and awesome.
The Starbucks drink was also colored blue with spirulina 🙂
If no pitaya is available, what would you recommend for the pretty pink? Raspberries, beet? I just want it to taste nice! Beautiful picture!
They do not offer the pitaya at my Whole Foods :/
I made the pumpkin donuts. They are delicious. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes.
This looks great! Can’t wait to try it out! One thing though-how do you make the horn?