For more than a week, my guy and I have wandered into the living room shortly after 8 pm, hunkering down on the sofa and coaxing the TV past its initial green screen of death to finally turn on. When familiar images slowly flicker into view, we relax and lose track of the next few hours while watching our new favorite program…
The 2014 Winter Olympics!
Even with knowing the events already occurred earlier in the day, I still spend the entire broadcast white-knuckled, gripping the couch pillows until their stuffing threatens to pop out. With their incredible speed and insane tricks, those skiers, snowboarders, and skeleton racers give me premature gray hair! I gasp, cheer, and grimace my way through their competitions, sometimes shouting loudly enough that our 15-pound dog crawls into my lap to lick my chin and make sure in her motherly doggie way that I’m okay.
When I normally watch sports (yes, more often than the Food Network!), the channels wait until a time out, stoppage in play, or end of an inning to cut to commercials, but sometimes NBC Olympic Primetime Coverage barely lasts 5 minutes before they start showing ads! Although I enjoy every heartfelt minute of the “P&G Proud Sponsor of Moms” ones—they always make me smile—I’ve seen others way more than I care to admit.
McDonald’s “Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappé” falls at the top of the list. After repeatedly chuckling at the shrunken yellow sweater (that’s why my mom banned my dad from doing laundry for 10+ years!), curiosity finally got the better of me, and I opened up my laptop to check out reviews online.
Despite refusing to eat at McDonald’s since I turned 13, the drink’s name intrigued me, especially since my close friend created the best truffle-stuffed chocolate covered strawberries for my blog last Valentine’s Day. But after a few minutes of browsing online, I discovered that this latest frappuccino from the Golden Arches earned almost entirely negative reviews. Nearly everyone agreed on 2 glaring issues:
(a) The strawberry flavor tasted completely artificial.
(b) Chunks of chocolate clogged the straw in every sip, making it impossible to drink.
Recognizing right away that I could create something better—and healthier!—than that, I pulled my blender off the shelf and starting testing.
Soon after, I danced with joy at the first decadent sip of my Skinny Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappé, a new and improved version of McDonald’s frappuccino with none of the problems AND none of the guilt. Containing a full serving of real fruit and bursting with rich chocolaty flavor, this healthy drink is a luscious, clean-eating way to quench your thirst and takes less than 3 minutes to make!
This ridiculously easy recipe requires just 5 ingredients: double-strength coffee, milk, cocoa powder, strawberries, and ice. You probably have all of these in your pantry (and fridge) already!
To address the first complaint—artificial strawberry flavor—I turned to whole frozen unsweetened strawberries. Avoid using fresh strawberries; their juices would add too much liquid to the frappuccino. Frozen strawberries are generally picked at the peak of ripeness and immediately frozen to preserve their bright fruity taste. In addition to flavor, the frozen strawberries also act as ice and help thicken the drink without watering down the taste.
To fix the second problem of chocolate chunks clogging the straw, I opted to mix in cocoa powder to my skinny version instead. It still adds just as much decadence as chocolate chips, but as a fine powder, it won’t plug up the straw! Choosing cocoa powder also greatly reduces the calories and fat without sacrificing any flavor.
To make your frappé, first add only the coffee, milk, and cocoa powder to your blender. You want to thoroughly mix those together before adding the frozen ingredients because cocoa powder sometimes tends to clump, so combining it with the liquids prevents the formation of any tiny pockets of cocoa. Then pour in the frozen strawberries and ice (and any sweetener, if desired) and blend until smooth.
Doesn’t that look incredible?
But wait! I mixed in one more super secret ingredient for aesthetics only. (You don’t need to add this if you aren’t spending 30 minutes photographing your frappuccino like me!) During my frappé research, I discovered Kerry’s copycat Starbucks frappuccino recipe on Squakfox, where she explained that xanthan gum will prevent your drink from separating! An ingredient often used in gluten-free baking to thicken and imitate stretch gluten strands, it also works miracles in coffee beverages. Pretty neat! Just add a tiny pinch along with the frozen ingredients; you can’t taste it at all.
My Skinny Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappé recipe makes one huge drink—at least 16 oz! It filled two of those glasses with a little more left over (that I accidentally forgot about in the freezer…), and I drank every single decadent sip myself. Its rich chocolaty flavor, accentuated by the earthy coffee background and naturally sweet strawberries, completely captivated me, and I immediately decided to blend another one the next morning!
Still full of curiosity, I decided to compare the Nutrition Information of my skinny version to McDonald’s original frappuccino. Go ahead, click the link and check it out. I’ll wait for you to come back.
I nearly had a heart attack and fell off my chair when I saw that. My healthy frappé contains 621 fewer calories, 26.6 fewer grams of fat, 89.9 fewer grams of carbs, and 89.8 fewer grams of sugar!
When I phoned my mom and revealed that to her, she replied, “Your version won’t clog people’s straws OR their arteries!”
I love her. ♥
So skip the drive-thru and make your healthier new and improved Skinny Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappé!