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Better Orders at Starbucks

Posted Jan 23 2010 12:00am

Alright, I'll admit - I love me a good Starbucks... but I've truly been making an effort to go only once or twice a week instead of everyday like I was at one point. I also haven't gone over to clean out my Yahoo email account in a long time, and actually forgot about the cool newsletter that I get from the Eat This, Not That people via Men's Health magazine.... so when I saw this - I wanted to share it with you guys.

There are several other gems that I found in probably 30 something newsletters that piled up over there - so I'll space them out for you guys and share as I see fit... or need something to fill in some content where I have no material.

So... here are 9 ways that you can order better at Starbucks... or any local coffee shop... (remember - these are from the Eat This, Not That newsletter at Men's Health magazine, and are not my ideas... there might be some commentary from me though mixed in along the way.)

1. Always choose cappuccinos over lattes. With nearly half the amount of milk, you'll save about 60 calories per medium cup - which adds up fast. Still, when you start adding syrups and whipped topping, both can be dangerous. A large flavored espresso drink made with 2% milk can cost you about 300 calories and 8 grams of fat.

Ok, I'll admit that they are more than likely right on the money here... but do they realize that the syrups and whipped cream are what make it taste yummy? I mean I can appreciate a cappuccino sometimes for it's cinnamon and beauty - but at the end of the day - a latte is almost always a little more tasty!

2. Frozen Coffee Drinks. The worst of all coffee categories. With the heavy reliance on dairy, syrups, and whipped cream kickers, these may as well be labeled "caffeinated milk shakes." Expect to invest between 400 and 700 calories in one of these frozen follies.

I've never actually tried one of these - for some reason - I can't fathom paying $4 for something that I might not like... same thing with the iced coffee movement... I also am WAY to chicken to ask them to make a sample of an iced mocha for me to try. 

3. Flavored syrups are made almost entirely of high-fructose corn syrup. Count on 20 calories and 5 grams of sugar per pump. Luckily, health-minded places also carry a good array of sugar-free, zero-calorie syrups like chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel.

Ok, can I just say that I've tried the sugar-free options... and all you people that say it tastes the same...are full of bull! The sugar-free mocha was disgusting... and I tried the cinnamon-dolce once too and didn't think it was much better. If I had to go down this road... I'd opt for a plain cappuccino over any of these options. Kudos to those of you that like them though... you are doing much better than I am! 

4. Americano. Made from a few shots of espresso and hot water, this is the best espresso drink on the menu. It's like coffee, with an extra kick.

I don't think I have the stomach for it... I like a little coffee with my milk (and chocolate) honestly... I don't have a true appreciation for the flavor of actual coffee. The smell rocks my world and makes me feel all warm inside... but haven't gotten to that place with the direct taste of it. 

5. Quiche is good for a reliable dose of protein, but it comes at a price. Thanks to an oily pastry shell and an unfettered load of cheese, a slice may carry 500 calories or more. The best part about quiche? The simple salad that is nearly always served on the side.

I haven't ever seen a Starbucks that served Quiche... but I feel like it is a gift from God... honestly - we have a Tea Room here close to my house that sells a quiche that almost brings a tear to my eye. So, my guess here is that we're talking more local coffee shops - or say - La Madeline... yum! (I think I just drooled!) La Madeline also has a WONDERFUL mocha...unlike say... McDonald's - EWW! (After trying McDonald's once for free... I'm too scared to try any other fast food joint's coffee.)

6. Breakfast Sandwiches. This is a relatively safe spot on the menu, but there's still a strategy to getting the best sandwich. Cap the caloric load at 400 by opting for the smallest bread and avoiding sausage. The best combo? Egg, ham, and American on an English muffin.

I have only tried one pastry at Starbucks, and it rocked my world... but I think it probably packed a hefty calorie punch...and leaned more toward the quiche category than sandwich. 

7. Bran Muffin. Putting a fancy name on a pastry is like putting lipstick on a crocodile. No matter how you dress it up, it still bites. A bran muffin might come with a couple grams of fiber, but that's a small pittance for a breakfast that can easily eclipse 400 calories - especially considering that the bulk of those calories comes from the same sugars and starches that make up everything else in the pastry case.

So what they are saying is that we should just go whole hog and get the vanilla bean mini scones, right? HAHAHA! 

8. Almond Biscotti. At 100 calories apiece, this coffee-shop classic makes a reasonable treat - but not if you're pairing it with a sugar-injected latte or blended drink. Pair it with a plain ol' cup of joe or a cappuccino and you'll keep the damage to a minimum.

I don't think I've ever had a biscotti... hmmmm... breakfast tomorrow, a real possibility. Nah - I'll just stick with my coffee and see what I can find here for munchies. 

9. Yogurt Parfait. The healthiest way to satisfy your sweet tooth. The yogurt is loaded with gut-friendly bacteria, protein, and calcium, and to make it a parfait, it's blended with a mix of berries, each of which brings to the cup a unique kick of antioxidants. Just make sure the base is plain - not sugar-laden flavored - yogurt and that the calorie-dense granola is applied with a modest hand.

I haven't really embraced these yet... something about yogurt and I have a love/hate relationship. 

In all seriousness... these are good tips - and I hope that it might help some of you that are still doing well on those New Years resolutions.  

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