Smooth and creamy, this candida-diet safe shamrock shake is delicious without needing any high-sugar fruits or other sweeteners. It’s naturally-colored, paleo, and vegan.
Years ago, I came across something that caught my interest. While visiting the Facebook pages of one of my fellow bloggers, who just happens to be from Grand Rapids, Michigan, like me, I came across one of her posts that hit home for me.
It was a post linking to a candida cleanse book. She listed some of the possible candida symptoms, several of which I was dealing with at the time.
What is candida?
Candida albicans is a type of yeast that can cause infections in the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina. It’s something that we all have to a certain extent, but when you have an imbalance and overgrowth, it can also affect your skin, nails, and can have other unpleasant effects.
I remember studying candida back in dental school. It can lead to a white coating in people’s mouths and tongues, commonly known as thrush. It can also cause yeast infections. I, however, not being plagued by either of those, never even considered that it could be causing me issues.
Seeing all of the symptoms together, though, made me curious.
Some of the possible symptoms that caught my eye were itchy skin, extreme hunger and/or cravings, mood swings and/or depression, brain fog, frequent urinary tract (bladder) infections, and acne.
One study shows that candida overgrowth in the intestines could be a cause of chronic fatigue, so the tiredness and brain fog makes sense.
Candida overgrowth triggers
Both antibiotics and oral contraceptives can be causes for a candida overgrowth. A high sugar diet and too much stress may also predispose someone to have problems with an inbalance.
Not only had I constantly been given antibiotics for recurrent ear infections and strep throat infections as a kid, but I had also taken long term antibiotics for acne in college. I had also taken “the pill” for several years to try to help with mood swings and acne. In fact, at one point my doctor had me taking the pill non-stop, without taking the 7-day break to get my period. It seemed like a great idea at the time, never having to deal with my period nor PMS. I’m pretty sure now, though, that it wasn’t a great idea.
How to find balance again
I happened to mention my epiphany to a group of healthy living blogger friends and was surprised by how common problems with candida could be.
Through our conversations, I learned a lot about ways to help get things back into balance. Many of these are covered in this article. (Full text can be found here.)
- Low sugar, healthy diet (The Candida Diet)
- Pau d’arco
- Oregano oil
- Probiotics (I recommend these as they are the very best I’ve tried!)
I ended up working with a naturopath who helped me with my diet and supplements. While I don’t know if my issue was really candida or not and/or if what she did really helped me with candida. What I will say, though, is that I had been getting UTI’s every month when I started. I haven’t had one since I started last summer. (Knock on wood)
What is the candida diet?
The candida diet is a healthy, low-sugar diet. It’s meant to lower inflammation and the sugars that fuel the candida. Even fruit is reduced to small amounts of low-sugar fruits.
My naturopath suggested I try to stick as closely to a similar diet for around 2 months while using a local supplement (Candisan from here in Spain) with Pau d’Arco, oregano, and black walnut, amongst other things. I also focused on taking a quality probiotic first thing in the morning.
After those 2 months, I was allowed to incorporate more foods, but have stuck to keeping sugar and fruit intake low. I also avoid most grains, only allowing for a few on the weekends.
The diet allows for a variety of fresh veggies and cultured or fermented foods. Healthy fats, clean (organic and/or wild/free range) proteins like eggs, meats, and fish, nuts and seeds, many types of legumes, etc.
With the change in diet, I really don’t have cravings for my real food shamrock shake. I didn’t want to miss out on the fun of the holiday, though, so I decided to make an adaptation, a candida-diet safe shamrock shake.
Healthy Shamrock Shake Ingredients
Making a “shake” without sugar, or even most types of fruit, is a bit of a challenge. Luckily, over the years, I’ve discovered some ways around the limitations.
Whether you consider it a fruit or a vegetable, it’s a healthy, safe addition to this shake. I also love adding it to smoothies. It thickens them up and bulks them up without the need for higher sugar fruits.
Avocado is a fruit, but it’s one of the few fruits that is allowed on the candida diet. It not only gives us healthy fats, but it adds a creaminess to smoothies and all sorts of paleo desserts. Here, it also adds a beautiful green color.
To get the minty flavor for this shake, there are several different ingredients you can try.
When I first started making these, I used a couple of drops of a “food safe” peppermint essential oil. (While it seems less common in the US, here in Spain many essential oils are instructed to be used internally.)
When I realized that many people were concerned about taking essential oils internally, I tried other options.
The simplest way, of course, was to use a handful of fresh mint leaves from my garden. (Why didn’t I think of that sooner?)
If you don’t want to use essential oils and/or don’t have access to fresh mint leaves, you can also use a peppermint extract.
Keep in mind that you should do your own research when it comes to using essential oils. This is particularly true when children will be using/consuming them. (Peppermint is one of the oils that is not recommended for use with young children.)
I have used a food-grade essential oil here. Make sure that you choose a trustworthy brand meant for consumption when using them in this way. Also, be conscious not to use too much.
Spinach adds nutrients and color to this shake. If you are concerned with oxalates, you can either omit the spinach or you can use stinging nettle instead. (Yes, really!) I have more information about using nettles in smoothies in my nettle smoothie post.
To thin out this thick “shake,” you can use a dash or two of coconut milk (homemade coconut milk works wonderfully here), almond milk, and/or even just a bit of water.
The Candida Diet Shamrock Shake
- 1 large cucumber or two small ones
- 1/2 avocado or 1 small avocado
- 1 dash coconut milk you can make your own!
- 3/4 cup baby spinach
- 1 handful peppermint leaves or 4 drops peppermint essential oil or peppermint extract, to taste
- 1 handful ice optional
- Peel and cut the cucumber(s) into small chunks, and place into a blender with the rest of the ingredients.
- Blend until smooth
Other than switching up what you use to give a minty flavor to your “shake,” there are other ways to modify the recipe somewhat.
I have often added a raw, pastured egg, as a source of protein. It may sound gross, but it really doesn’t change the flavor much, if at all. If anything, raw egg is supposed to add a “vanilla-like” flavor which is very characteristic of a Shamrock Shake. If you want to try it, but are concerned about eating raw eggs, consider using a pasteurized egg.
You could try adding a scoop of protein powder. I like using green protein powders like pea or hemp protein.
Sweetening the shake
I was actually surprised to find that this shake didn’t need any extra sweetening. The creaminess of the avocado really pairs well with the cool cucumber and refreshing mint. They fool your tastebuds into thinking it’s sweet.
That said, you could always add a dash of liquid stevia to sweeten it more if you feel it needs it!
This post was originally published on March 11, 2014. It was rewritten and republished with new information about the Candida diet (adding sources to studies about candida) in March of 2020.
hi! what were the probiotics you recommend? the link is not working anymore 🙁
In this part:
“Probiotics (I recommend these as they are the very best I’ve tried!)”
Thank you in advance 🙂
Tracy Ariza, DDS
I used to be an affiliate for Seed probiotics and got a sample from them and absolutely loved it. The eczema patch on my foot actually cleared up when I started taking it. (Coincidence, maybe? But I doubt it.) I actually stopped being an affiliate, not because I don’t believe in the product, but because I wasn’t allowed to say what I just told you at the same time as I linked to a product that I could receive a commission from. (That’s probably why my link no longer works. I’ll have to edit the post.) I guess now that I’m not earning anything from it, I can say what I really think about it. 😏
In full disclosure, I no longer buy the probiotic, not because I didn’t love it, but because the shipping to my country ended up being really high. They had a reduced or “free” shipping to my country, but with changes in regulations, it got stuck in customs and was too hard (and expensive) to get here.
Hello Tracy, i noticed that this recipe post is a bit old, so hopefully you’ll respond to me. I just wanted to know how’s been since you had this candida overgrowth. Did you go back to the way u used to eat, or you no longer consume wheat and sugar? I’m trying to get rid of mine, but is very challenging for me with my kind of lifestyle.
I’m happy to answer comments on all posts.
To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure that candida was even an issue, and I’m not sure the diet ever helped that much. I even found that when I started adding fruit back into my diet, I felt a bit better than when I wasn’t eating any sugar at all…
At the time, I started a protocol of a friend of mine who sells a book on treating candida. She successfully treated her own twice. It came with diet, supplements, etc.
I was really excited to try it and then promote her product here on my blog. Why did it never happen? Because I was never 100% convinced that I had it or that I had treated it. I think I probably wasted money on supplements and didn’t want my readers feeling the same way. (I’m very careful about what I’d promote, and only choose things I thoroughly believe in.)
So, what has happened since then?
I eat very limited amounts of sugar- not because of the candida thing, but because I lose weight, feel better, and just believe it’s generally healthier to eat a low sugar diet! As for wheat? I no longer avoid it 100%, but I do avoid having much of it. I probably do avoid it almost 100% of the time during the week, and save it for weekends. Even then, I may only have a bite or two of something I enjoy with my meal. I’m pretty strict about what I eat during the week, and allow myself to eat pretty much what I want on weekends.
Interestingly enough, since then, I do limit even my fruit intake during the week because I find that when I eat fruit, it makes me want to eat more. I think it’s the sugar in it that stimulates my appetite! I don’t worry on the weekends, though.
I think I’ve since found that one of my real issues is dairy, which may explain why the candida diet didn’t go well for me. I was using lots of homemade yogurt and kefir, I think. I pretty much avoid those now and only make them for my son. I was avoiding wheat and eating dairy when I think I have a much bigger issue with dairy that gluten.
I personally think everybody should try to do an elimination diet and find what’s really bothering them. If you eat a diet that mostly consists of vegetables for a few days, you’ll start to detox and will feel better in general. Then, if you are careful when you introduce new foods, you can get a better idea of what bothers you.
Tracy Ariza, DDS
I have since dealt with this again and updated the post accordingly (After working with a naturopath). I did see a reduction in UTI’s, and have been doing pretty well lately.
I don’t eat this diet habitually, but the closer I eat to it, the better I generally feel. It’s just hard to stick to it all of the time, you know?
I try to at least eat very low sugar during the week. I rarely eat wheat, but I can’t say never. 😉
You’re off to a great start Tracy, it’s all worth the changes in the end, you’ll feel fantastic down the track a bit 🙂
Thank you, Jedha!
I’m already starting to feel a bit better, and no longer have strong cravings for bread nor sweets! Little by little! 🙂
Pinning! I’m always looking for good smoothie recipes. (I’m from GR too!) Good luck with our healing journey. Your health is so worth the effort.
Thank you, Jessica!
It’s amazing how many healthy food/real food bloggers are either in or from Grand Rapids. 🙂
I’d love to do a get together if/when I get back to visit my family (that still live there).