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Healthy Reviews

What Your Starbucks Order Is Missing (Hint: It sure as hell ain’t sugar)

November 12, 2013

Yesterday morning when I excitedly waited in line at Starbucks for my half-caf with the just-released Thanksgiving Blend in my red holiday cup, the lady in front of me impressed the pants off me with her breakfast and drink order. It was as follows:

  • Grande Green Tea Latte – no syrup, extra scoop of matcha
  • Oatmeal – no brown sugar, just nuts and cranberries
  • A banana

Wow. Now there’s a lady who knows what she wants. (There are a lot of those at Starbucks). I was so curious about the “no syrup” request on the Green Tea Latte that I asked her what that meant. Like the Chai Latte, I had always assumed that a syrupy mix was the main ingredient besides milk.

But she told me that it’s actually a combination of macha powder, syrup and milk. They add the syrup of course because that’s what makes this healthy choice taste “good.”

I loved hearing this because I, like her, am a big believer in stripping food of their added sugars and either adding flavors of my own, or letting the food speak for itself. It inspired me to look into a few other things you can do with your Starbucks order to make it a little healthier. Warning: This list does not include sugar-free options because I actually believe sugar-free is worse than sugar (sorry to disappoint! I’ll talk about this in a future post).

Starbucks Red Cup

  • Tea Bag Lattes* – Choose any one of the Tazo tea bags and ask the barista to make it a Tea Latte. They will steep the tea bag in steamed milk (I request soy); or do half hot water and half milk. You can ask for two bags to make it stronger and add one pump of syrup if you’re craving something sweeter. But without it, it’s a full-flavored tea bag steeped in milk that warms the heart and totally satisfies. I highly recommend the Joy Tea or, if it’s not the holiday season, Vanilla Roibos Tea.
    *Props to my friend Monica for introducing me to this idea 2 years ago
  • Iced Tea – Green, Passion, Black, or a mixture of them all. This is my go to summer drink. It’s incredibly refreshing and I think the flavors speak for themselves. Again, if you absolutely must, sweeten it yourself with a packet of raw sugar. But try resist when they ask if you want it sweetened – a couple of pumps of syrup brings it up to 80 calories (from 0) and 21 grams of sugar (from 0).
  • Coffee with a Pump – I love the seasonal flavors and look forward to them every year, but I am not a Peppermint-Mocha-with-chocolate-shavings-and-whipped-cream type of girl. That doesn’t mean that I can’t still get a taste of the season in my morning coffee. Instead, I just ask for a coffee with soymilk and ONE pump of (fill in the blank – pumpkin, peppermint, gingerbread, etc). You’d be surprised at how satisfying this can be. I dare you to try it at least once. Now that I’ve weaned myself off of the “normal” 2-3 pumps that come with lattes, I honestly can’t handle them anymore – they are too sickeningly sweet for me.
  • Any Frappuccino/Mocha/Latte – I realize that sometimes, you just need a real-deal Starbucks indulgence. But I’m going to get on my soapbox here and I ask – instead of the “light” option (i.e. artificial sweetener), just get the regular with nonfat milk and don’t add the toppings. That takes the sugar and calories down by as much as 120 calories and 12 grams of fat. I realize that anybody who is a “diet/light” fan will not take this lightly (pun intended). But believe me (or believe this letter from Starbucks), the calories you get from the real sugar are much better for you that anything that’s entering your body from fake sugar.
  • Espresso – Have you ever had a real espresso before? Because of the way it is brewed (extremely pressurized hot water and coffee beans), the flavors are much stronger than normal coffee (and so is the caffeine). To me, it tastes like Europe in a cup. It’s rich, caramelly and smoky. And guess what? It’s only 5 calories for a short, 10 calories for a tall – 0 sugar, 0 sodium.

Does anybody have any satisfying Starbucks orders they’ve discovered that don’t depend on sugar or fake sugar?