Monday, March 5, 2012

What's In... McDonald's Shamrock Shake?

TRUTH: I've never actually had a Shamrock Shake from McDonald's.  I know! And now that I don't really do fast food or cow milk, I don't think I ever will drink one.  Really I'm researching this so that I know what's in them before Goose is old enough to ask for one.  So, here goes...

For starters, here are the basic nutritional facts about a 12oz Shamrock Shake:

Obviously, this is a milk shake that makes no claims about being good for anyone, but just FYI, an average human adult should shoot for consuming no more than 30-40 grams of sugar a day.  One 12oz Shamrock Shake contains 74 grams of sugar.  OY!  On the plus side, it does contain a mysteriously high amount of protein and is fairly low in sodium.

Okay, here's where we get down to business.  Does a Shamrock Shake contain gluten? No.  But is it choc full of artificial ingredients? Heck, yeah.

Besides containing artificial sweeteners and unspecified artificial flavorings, Here's the list of artificial ingredients in the Shamrock Shake, whipped cream and maraschino cherry and what they actually are:
Mono- and Diglycerides: Monoglycerides and diglycerides are common food additives used to blend together certain ingredients, such as oil and water, which would not otherwise blend well. The commercial source may be either animal (cow- or hog-derived) or vegetable, and they may be synthetically made as well. They are often found in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, and confections. Our Guide classifies them as "May be non-vegetarian." Archer Daniels Midland Co., a large manufacturer of monoglycerides, reports that they use soybean oil.  ~Vegetarian Resource Group

Cellulose Gum: Cellulose gum is extracted from wood pulp and purified cotton cellulose. It is registered by the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) of the American Chemical Society. Its CAS number is 9004-32-4. Its chemical formula is C6H7O2(OH)2OCH2COONa. ~

Sodium Benzoate: Sodium benzoate is a type of salt that may occur naturally in some foods but is more likely to be chemically produced and added as a preservative to foods. When used as a preservative, sodium benzoate is typically added to foods in small amounts only. If too much is added, food may take on a very bitter taste.  It does naturally occur in several fruits like apples, plums and cranberries. A few sweet spices contain small amounts of sodium benzoate, including cloves and cinnamon. The presence of sodium benzoate in these foods does not necessarily act to preserve them.

Polysorbate 80: Polysorbate 80 is found in pudding cups, those not-quite-dairy, not-quite-frozen concoctions that make their way into home-packed school lunches. Its role here is to disperse artificial sweeteners and flavors throughout the gelatin-like substance.  Though it can be sourced naturally, production of Polysorbate 80 is a complex chemical process. It’s made in an industrial laboratory, not a kitchen. ~ Eating Real Food

Red 40:  Red Dye #40 is referred to as a "Coal Tar" dye. The phrase has little meaning today but a hundred years ago it was used to describe synthetic chemicals that started out with coal tar as a precursor. It's more likely today to find a petrochemical as the original base of most synthetic chemicals, though they're so highly refined that you won't find any residual petroleum in the product. ~ Red40

Yellow 5:  Yellow #5, aka Tartrazine, is one of the cheapest synthetic colors available, and sold all over the world.  Various levels of allergic reactions and intolerance reactions have been caused by this food coloring, especially among asthmatics and people with aspirin intolerance.  A major study published in the UK in 2007 linked food colorings with hyperactive behavior in children. As a result, the FSA (UK’s FDA) has called manufacturers to voluntarily ban food colorings in their products. ~ Fooducate

Blue 1: Blue No. 1 is called "brilliant blue" and, as is typical of modern dyes, was originally derived from coal tar, although most manufacturers now make it from an oil base. Blue No. 2, or "indigotine," on the other hand, is a synthetic version of the plant-based indigo that has a long history as a textile dye. ~ ScientificAmerican

If you're with me and bummed that the McDonald's Shamrock Shake ingredient list contains one petroleum derivative too many, fret not, there are tons of recipes out there to make healthier versions of this shake.

Here's a vegan version that I'm reprinting from Heather Crosby over at YumUniverse that looks really tasty:
ShamWOW Organic Mint Ice Cream Recipe: Ingredients (almost all ingredients available at Whole Foods): 4 cups of fresh raw Almond Milk, or organic store-bought almond milk 1 cup of raw agave nectar 2 Tbsp raw honey 1 tsp organic vanilla extract 4 tbsp cold-pressed coconut oil 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt (do NOT use regular salt) 4 cups young coconut meat (how to open a coconut) 2/3 cup tightly packed fresh, organic mint leaves 2T of liquid Chlorophyll (optional, for color and extra nutrition) 1 tsp spirulina crystal flakes 2T of organic peppermint extract Tools: High-powered blender Ice Cream Maker (optional) Steps: 

Place all ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth. If you have an ice cream maker, transfer mix to a pitcher or bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then, once chilled process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, go ahead and pour your mix into a glass container with a lid. Freeze at least 3 hours before making shake.   

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