Recipe makeover! This creamy orange dreamsicle shake is still sweet, citrusy and frosty, but now sugar-free and dairy-free! A healthy Orange Julius you can feel good about! (Low-Carb, Paleo, and Vegan)
Orange Julius Makeover
Let's jump in a time machine and head to the MALL in 1994 lol. Oh man, I was obsessed with Orange Julius. I don't even know if those food courts are still around since I never step foot in malls anymore, but when I was a kid, it was a real treat to get one!
If you're a youngster/Millennial/etc, you may not even know what an Orange Julius is lol, but let me assure you, it's the DREAMIEST creamiest most delicious orange milkshake/smoothie concoction. It's creamier and richer than a smoothie, but not quite full milkshake. It's a mix of BOTH. And it's so dang good.
Unfortunately, the traditional Julius has around sixty (yes, 6-0) carbs and 54 grams of sugar in just a SMALL size! YIKES.
So for a long time I've been trying to recreate one without dairy or sugar or having to use 10 oranges. And I finally did it you guys!!
A much healthier Orange Julius that's dairy-free, sugar-free (no added sugar), no additives. It's made with ingredients you can feel good about.
I made one for my son and he guzzled it down in about 2 minutes flat. Then proceeded to ask me if I could make him 5 more, haha. Needless to say he LOVED IT. (I also had to explain to him what an Orange Julius was because he has never heard of it! #ifeelold)
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How to Make it Super Creamy
Coconut cream makes this smoothie/milkshake creamy and dreamy without using ice cream but tastes just as amazing.
I use coconut cream from a can of coconut milk. My go-to brand is Thai Kitchen.
Side note, you can buy cans of coconut cream only, but I prefer the cans of milk -- for several reasons.
- They're cheaper per ounce
- Easier to find
- And they also contain delicious coconut water you can use in your smoothies, too! It's loaded with electrolytes.
Usually, I use nut butter to make my smoothies creamy (like I did in my green smoothie milkshake), but I decided to skip a step and just use a higher fat milk. It worked perfectly!
What if you don't like coconut?
I don't feel that it has a coconut taste (but I am a coconut LOVER).
The degree of coconut taste does vary by brand. Thai Kitchen brand does not have a strong coconut flavor IMO. It's light and smooth (which is SO important to me. I've tried LOTS of brands and some are terrible. Gritty, strange flavor. Just no. Stick with Thai Kitchen).
If you don't want to use coconut milk, use 1-2 Tbs almond butter or cashew butter and almond or cashew milk like I did in my previous smoothie recipe.
Or you could probably also use heavy cream if you're ok with dairy.
Sweet Sans Sugar: How to Make it Low-Carb
Lakanto FTW, again for amazing sweetness without adding any sugar. It truly tastes like sugar here with no weird aftertaste or bitterness.
What about sugar in the fruit?
Okay, Sally. Yes, there is a small amount of natural sugar from the orange. Please don't be a jerk about it lol.
It's not a ton. But it IS much much lower sugar than the original Orange Julius. A fraction. (Did you see that a small has 60 carbs?! Woah!) This has just 6 grams of natural sugar and 7 net carbs.
And now you're getting vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Treats with benefits 😉
Maximum Orange Flavor Without OJ
I've tried a LOT of different avenues to get that orange flavor I crave.
When I was a kid, I used frozen orange juice concentrate to try and make a homemade Orange Julius. And like a cup of sugar (!)
Over the years, I've tried oranges slices, orange zest, whole oranges (!!), whole mandarins, mandarin wedges, and orange essential oil. I even though about adding Orange La Croix lol (but I didn't).
What created the BEST result for me was possibly the EASIEST method...
- There's NO zesting. No tedious peeling a regular orange. No removing seeds.
- Just remove the peel from one mandarin (I used Halo brand oranges. LOVE them)
- Throw the wedges in your blender with coconut milk, ice, sweetener, and vanilla.
- Blend it. TASTE it. Adjust with however much sweetener and orange flavor you want (which varies depending on how sweet your mandarin is to start with)
- Savor each and every orange-vanilla-creamy sip!
Natural Color with Benefits
It's totally optional, but in my opinion, colorful food simply tastes better than beige food.
So there's no way I'm putting artificial coloring in my smoothie (but I wouldn't be surprised to find coloring in shakes at a dessert shop!)
I love to add it to just about everything savory I make these days.
But one of my favorite uses is natural food coloring! I add it to anything that needs a little yellow or orange hue (like my Lemon Cheesecake Bars, Instant Lemon Mousse, & Orange Dreamsicle Cheesecake!)
I actually like the taste of turmeric in desserts, too. I think it adds a little extra dimension. Have you ever tried it?
My Favorite Smoothie Cups
I am obsessed with these double-wall insulated glasses that my friend Crystal at The Cappuccino Traveler introduced me to last year. I use them for EVERYTHING now. Morning coffee, afternoon smoothie, glass of wine, anything and everything I want to keep super cold or piping hot, these do the trick!
They're obviously not ideal if you're packing the smoothie to-go, but to sit and sip in a comfy chair, YES. So much yes.
It comes in a set of two! They're available here on Amazon 🙂
Are you ready to go back in time and enjoy this nostalgic sweet orange treat again (but in a healthy way!?) If you try it, be sure to leave a rating or review below and tag me on Instagram @emily.likes.food so I can see! 🙂
Low-Carb Orange Julius
- 3 large ice cubes
- 1 medium mandarin orange - about ¼ cup wedges
- 1 Tbs monkfruit granules - to taste
- 2 Tbs coconut cream - see notes
- ⅓ cup water - or coconut water leftover from the can
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of turmeric - optional for color
- 1-2 drops orange essential oil - optional for stronger orange flavor. See notes
- Alternatively, use a can of coconut cream *not cream of coconut which is full of sugar*
- OR use 1 ½ Tbs natural almond or cashew butter
- OR ~2 Tbs heavy whipping cream if you're ok with dairy
- 2 tsp Lakanto powdered monkfruit or 4 teaspoon homemade powdered monkfruit
- 15 drops SweetLeaf vanilla stevia
- A pinch of pure monkfruit extract or pure stevia
- 1-2 Tbs Lakanto vanilla or classic monkfruit syrup
- 1 heaping Tbs coconut sugar
- 1 soft medjool (large) date (or 2 small deglet noor dates) soaked in warm water for 5 minutes
- a splash of orange extract
- the zest of 1 mandarin or about 1 teaspoon orange zest
Want more smoothies, shakes and drinks?
Strawberry Shake from my cookbook
Reese’s Shake from my cookbook