As a kid, I clearly remember the Orange Julius stand in the Eastfield Mall. (Springfield, Mass…represent!)
If we were lucky, we’d get to order one of the creamy, sweet, frosty drinks as we strolled around the shops.
But before we dive into the recipe – which I really wanted to call Faux-range Julius – it dawned on me that you might not be acquainted with this frozen drink.
An Orange Julius is a cross between a milkshake, a smoothie, and juice. Apparently, the concoction was dreamed up in the 1920s (!) by one Julius Freed, and over the years, it spread across the nation from its humble California beginnings.
(I always say the great part about inventing something is you often get to name it after yourself.)
Orange Julius was even the official drink of the New York World’s Fair in 1964.
And the logo eventually became this in the 1980s because the drink was “devilishly good.”
Turns out, one look at the ingredients and you’ll know that they’re pretty bad. How fitting.
According to OrangeJulius.com, a large serving (790 mL or about 28 ounces) has 106 grams carbohydrate (101 grams sugar), 0 grams fat, and 0 grams protein.
Let me repeat: absolutely no protein, no fat, and over 100 grams of sugar. That’s 25 teaspoons in case you’re keeping track.
And the ingredients?
Now, I don’t think many of my faithful readers are slurping down Orange Juliuses (Julii?) on the daily, but it’s a sobering look at the state of supposedly “healthy” drinks and other fast food / fake food menu items. Yikes.
So where does this recipe come in?
Frankly, I have to admit that I haven’t even thought of an Orange Julius in years.
I’d been monkeying around in the kitchen, squeezing the juice out of some citrus that I cut up for a photo shoot. My mind started to drift – as often it does when I’m chopping and cutting up produce.
In a pretty standard game of word associations, I went from oranges to Orange Julius. And then I remember how crappy they are for you even though they may taste good.
How could I replicate the flavors and texture, but make it hella more nutritious?
Well, first, I used whole oranges. (Skin peeled off, obviously.) That right there bumped up the fiber. I happened to have blood oranges left over from a photo shoot. Use whatever oranges are available to you. And instead of adding sugar – in four forms – I used a frozen banana instead.
I also left out the dairy.
Then, I added much-needed protein via protein powder…though you could certainly swap it for grass-fed collagen. For healthy fats, I used a single pastured egg.
If you have a dodgy immune system or can’t find pastured eggs, swap it out for about 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk.
Then I tossed it all in the Vitamix – or use whatever powerful blender you have – to whiz it all up.
(Side note: I often get asked if I like my Vitamix. The short answer is yes. I’ve had the same machine since 2010 – actually it predates this whole website – and has endured nearly daily use with excellent performance. There was one time we had to order a new pitcher because someone left a spoon inside and it got blended, cracking the plastic. Other than that, it’s been bulletproof.)
Does it taste 100% exactly like the sugary original that’s stuffed with gross stuff? Nah. Use your imagination just a wee bit and you’ll be rewarded.
Now, one word about drinking your calories like this. (Here comes bad cop nutritionist Steph.)
If you’re trying to fix things like insulin resistance, lose a significant amount of body fat, get appetite / satiety signals back on track, or otherwise improve your relationship with food, I really recommend not drinking your calories.
However, if you’re doing well, feeling good, and have a healthy body composition, there’s a bit more latitude for the occasional smoothie. I still recommend whole blended fruits and veggies in smoothies because they increase the fiber content versus strained juice with the pulp discarded.
Of course, there are multiple ways to modify this recipe to suit your needs, so have fun with it!
Healthy Orange Julius Smoothie Recipe
- 2 large oranges peeled
- 1 banana frozen
- 1 heaping tbsp grass-fed collagen* or 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 1 raw pastured egg optional (sub: 1/4 cup coconut milk)
- Load all the ingredients into a powerful blender like a Vitamix.
- Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.
*I recommend Vital Proteins Grass-Fed Collagen.