This easy Shamrock shake is only 5 ingredients and about half the calories of the McDonald’s version.

Mr. K and I used to have a tradition of getting a Shamrock shake every year from McDonald’s during this time of year. Then one year, I decided to make it myself, and we’ve been doing that ever since. A 12 oz Shamrock shake at McDonald’s is 530 calories and contains a lot of unnecessary ingredients in its Shamrock syrup. This 12 oz serving is about 264 calories (the calorie count will vary slightly depending on the ice cream brand and whipped topping brand) with only a handful of ingredients.

You can make it even healthier if you reduce the ice cream and increase the milk, but we like our shakes on the thicker side.

Meet Fresh, a Taiwanese-based chain known for their herbal grass jelly and taro ball desserts, opened a U.S. branch in Irvine last summer.

For those unfamiliar, grass jelly is an Asian dessert, usually served sweetened and chilled, with a texture much like Jell-O. The jelly is made from the leaves of Mesona chinensis, a member of the mint family. It’s often served in drinks or in shaved ice. Taro balls is a popular Taiwanese dessert. They are chewy, mochi-like balls, similar to the Chinese sticky rice balls (tang yuan), but made out of taro. They are often eaten with syrup or as a shaved ice topping.

Unsurprisingly, the store is located in the Diamond Jamboree plaza that also houses the popular 85C Bakery and other Taiwanese-based chains.

I’ve been curious about this spot for a long time, and so we went to check it out during our last trip to Orange County. Considering the limited menu, I was surprised by the store’s popularity, with a never-ending line that rivaled the one a few doors down at 85C.

Most of the desserts fall into three categories: a drink, shaved ice, or a hot dessert soup. For each of these categories, they offer various combinations of their herbal grass jelly, taro balls, and some of the common ingredients that pair with these items.

Q Mochi

We started with an order of fresh made mochi, mainly because it was listed as one of their top five items. Half of them are made with brown sugar for a more molasses flavor and half are made with white sugar. These were bouncy and chewy. I’m not particularly fond of this style of mochi so I didn’t care too much for it, but Mr. K liked it a lot.

Hot Herbal Jelly No. 5

This single, giant cookie is full of peanut butter flavor and studded with chocolate chunks. It’s just five ingredients and flourless.



The other day I was craving a cookie. A single, giant cookie. So I made this.

This cookie is super peanut buttery. Like a container of creamy peanut butter collided with a chocolate chip cookie. I’d recommend some milk to wash it all down.