What to eat at Starbucks

Starbucks Coffee Company

The official drink of The Voice, and my husband. They should have a platinum card for guys like him.

There’s a lot out there about what NOT to eat, but how about a post about what constitutes a good choice?

Starbucks has a lot of food and drink with under 400 calories, which is a good caloric neighborhood, beverage included, when you’re making a stop to fuel up.  If you’re watching your calories, it’s a good idea to choose a beverage very, very low in calories (iced tea with one packet of sugar or one pump of sugar, coffee with one sugar and a very small hit of cream) if you’re having a snack.  I would keep the snack at or below 200 calories; you need to save room for other healthful foods throughout the day.

I will assume you are looking for a drink and a nibble…

  • First, remember that whipped cream adds 45-100 calories depending on the size of the drink.  If you want whipped cream, the obvious choice is the smaller-sized drink (the short with whip is 45, give it up: a grande has 60 calories for the whip and is more realistic).
  • Each pump of syrup adds a teaspoon of sugar, which is about 20 calories.  Caramel drizzle adds 15 calories, and chocolate adds just 5.
  • Protein/fiber powder adds 30 calories and is entirely unnecessary (only adds one gram of fiber?!  Let’s have bakery instead!).

Beverages (200 calories or less):

  • Iced brewed coffee or tea.  Get it without the added syrup, or just one pump, and add milk or soy milk.  If you add the milk, and choose nonfat and Tall, it’s 80 calories.  If you’re feeling spartan, a plain iced tea or coffee contains 0 calories.
  • Hot coffee or tea with same as above.  If you order a tea latte, skip the syrup and go for a frothy soy milk add-on, because it has it’s own sugar and also makes quite a nice froth.  Size: Grande or below, because a venti tea latte can run you 240-450 (!) calories.  My order: a one-bag Venti tea steeped.  I add my own 50 calories of cold soy milk at the bar (because I’m a pain in the torkus).
  • Caffe Mocha: Grande with nonfat and no whip, or Tall with nonfat and whip, or Tall with 2% and NO whip = about 200 calories.
  • Frappuccino: Tall sized, my friends, is the only way to go, and that’s without the whipped cream (dang).  Add 50 calories for that and at least you’ll still be at about 250 calories instead of 450.  You can also choose the Light Blended Coffee version, where a Venti runs just 190 calories with nonfat milk, but if you love the flavor of the regular version, order the smaller size instead.
  • Skip the smoothies and just get the cup of fruit instead.
  • Frappuccino Creme: Tall, nonfat, no whip is around 200 calories.  Go easy there, cowboy.
  • Hot chocolate: Tall, nonfat milk, no whip, or short with whip=190 calories, 230 with 2% and is 100% yum.
  • A Tall of Caramel Apple Spice has 210 calories without the whip.

Eats, also at 200 calories or less, unless this is breakfast or lunch, you know?  Good choices:

  • Classic oatmeal.  Even if you add all the goodies — brown sugar, dried fruit, and nut medley, you’re at 400 calories with good sources of fiber, potassium and iron.  I’d use less than half the brown sugar to save 25 calories, hit the bar and add cinnamon for a bit of punch and have a nice tea or coffee with one sugar and a little hit of milk.
  • Seasonal fruit.  Hard to go wrong there.
  • Multigrain bagel with reduced fat cream cheese.  Still 400 calories, but it’s a breakfast that will stay with you for a while.  If you aren’t a six-foot-tall athlete and you like a snack by 10 am, maybe have half and share this with a hungry friend.  But of course, add a beverage!
  • Petite Vanilla Bean Scone.  140 calories, five grams of fat — it’s the size a scone should be. Cake pops come in at about 170 calories, and if if they float your boat, go right ahead, but eating food on a stick often leaves me wanting more.
  • Marshmallow dream bar.  You know, a Krispie treat.  210 calories, low in fat, and you get a beverage!  However, this is not lunch!
  • Chewy chocolate meringue cookie: 160 calories and just 4.5 grams fat.
  • Chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie (not chocolate chunk cookie): 200 calories, 10 grams fat.
  • Buy anything on the bakery menu and split it with a friend.  Pre-split it and be even about it if you want to be friends later.  This has the benefit of keeping you at 200 calories or below, saves money, and allows you to get the pumpkin bread or a croissant without feeling bad about yourself in the morning (or afternoon).
  • Avoid the yogurt.  Get a yogurt from the market without the add-ons and save yourself 150 calories (which can be used on bakery!  Yay!).
  • Bistro boxes: Chicken hummus, Ham and Swiss panini, Chicken Santa Fe panini and Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich are all good, so long as you’re counting this as a meal.  They all run about 400 calories with 10 or so grams of fat.

Check the nutrition facts.  Starbucks prints them and has little signs in the bakery window for calories (in California, anyway).  Alas, there are no gluten-free items, which is a bummer.  Look around the counter for the packages of nuts, and the dried fruit if you’re searching for a snack (and there’s always the fruit).  Also, the marshmallow treats do have gluten so forget about it.  Dang.

Happy eating!

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