Coffee is arguably a perfect beverage. It has more depth than water, no calories, no fat and can put a little zip in your step if you drink the caffeinated stuff. It’s also a solid base for some downright delicious hot holiday drinks. Starbuck’s has cornered festive deliciousness with Pumpkin Spice, Eggnog, Coffee Nut, Caramel Brulée, Chestnut Praline and Gingerbread Lattés. Oh, and did someone say Peppermint Mocha? Ummm….yes, please. Unless it quashes your health goals.
If you’ve been working hard to eat, drink and be healthy all year you might have trepidations about downing coffee house drinks topped off with whipped cream and colorful drizzle. Fortunately, Starbucks knows this and makes their nutrition information public on their website so you can make decisions that work for you when it comes to ordering. There are simple ways to enjoy holiday favorites at Starbucks with fewer worries about staying healthy.
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Some Starbucks drinks have a “skinny” version of some of their drinks available. A 16 ounce “regular” Peppermint Mocha has 440 calories and 54 grams of sugar. In contrast, a 16 ounce Skinny Peppermint Mocha is 160 calories and has 13 grams of sugar. The skinny version uses non-fat cream along with sugar-free mocha sauce and peppermint syrup that’s sweetened with sucralose (think Splenda). The skinny version has significantly less calories and sugar.
However, you might not be keen on chemicals and don’t want to dive into a cup of sucralose even if it means less calories. If that’s the case, it’s time to ask your favorite barista make a few specific tweaks to your drink.
5 Ways to Lighten up Your Starbuck’s Holiday Favorite:
1) Order a Small Size
A “short” (8 ounces) will have ½ the calories and all the flavor the “grande” features.
2) Hold the Whipped Cream
Depending on how generous the dollop is between 60-100 calories can come from the whipped cream on your favorite beverage.
3) No Toppings, Please
Ask the barista to forgo any added syrup that might be drizzled on the whipped cream.
4) Choose Your Dairy Wisely
Ask for skim, almond, nut or coconut milk in your latté. Avoid condensed milk, which has added sugar.
5) Order Your Drink With Black Coffee (Americano) as a Base, Instead of Espresso.
No, you won’t get the same caffeine fix you get from an espresso-based drink. But, you will get robust flavor with less sugary syrup in your cup. A little syrup goes a long way in regular coffee. Ask the barista to use half the amount of syrup they use for the espresso version. For example, if you want the bright flavor of a Peppermint Mocha, order a grande Americano with 1.5 pumps peppermint syrup and a touch of cream. It’s a simple way to cut calories and sugar without sacrificing flavor.
Now when your sleigh (or your minivan) lands at Starbucks, you have a plan that will help you stick to your health goals. Remember, your holiday drink doesn’t have to be ho-ho-hum to be healthy.