The Unicorn Smoothie

The unicorn Frappuccino.  I haven’t tried this magical drink, but at first glance, it doesn’t scream “healthy.” They describe it as “color and flavor changing”, which to me reads: sugar and more sugar.

Now let’s talk about good sugars and not-so-magical sugars and how to recognize each type. If we take the unicorn Frappuccino and compare it to a smoothie loaded with good sugars, we will call it the Unicorn Smoothie. You might notice that the grams of sugar look the same (about 40g in a tall Frappuccino and about 38g in a larger Unicorn Smoothie). But, we all know that every horse with a horn isn’t actually a unicorn.

What’s the difference between the sugars? Well, sugar occurring naturally in whole foods comes with the nutrients of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, protein, and fiber. When any type of sugar is added to food, you get the calories and blood sugar spike without the nutrients, and a sugar crash to follow.

So how can you spot the bad sugar?

In this article Ashley Kadlubar, registered and licensed dietitian at the weight loss surgery center at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine, explains that “Recognizing added sugars is our first line of defense.”

“The best way to find added sugar is by being ingredient-savvy because simply looking at the nutritional labels isn’t enough. Check out the ingredients, which are listed by weight. If sugar is in the top few ingredients listed, then you are holding a product that is likely high in added sugar. Be sure to also look for cane juice, cane syrup, corn sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup), fruit nectars or juices, molasses, malt syrups, and honey.”

Guess what the third ingredient in the unicorn frap is? If you guessed SUGAR you might actually be a unicorn. There is also a lot of fruit juice concentrate (ahem…sugar) and cream (fat) happening in the Frap ingredient list.

But if, even after reading this post you’re still wanting to jump over rainbows, try a nutrient-packed Unicorn Smoothie instead.

Think about natural ways to get vibrant colors into your drink:

  • Beets
  • Turmeric
  • Spirulina
  • Greek yogurt with blue matcha
  • Pitaya or acai

Or, ask for a sample from your local Starbucks barista. While they may have a meltdown, they will make you one and you can get a taste in moderation.

starbucks sample

Eat all the colors of the rainbow, friends. Just not a lot of the artificial added sugary kinds.