Tis the season to be jolly…and drink too many Peppermint Mochas.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for enjoying special once-a-year holiday treats. I fully intend to eat my mom’s chocolate fudge and my mother-in-law’s Christmas Eve crab dip without an ounce of guilt or shame. If festive coffee drinks top that list for you, savor a few this holiday season and don’t look back.
But if you spin through Starbucks frequently, it’s smart to make a few adjustments. Because it’s way too easy to drink more than a day’s worth of sugar and a meal’s worth of calories in one frothy, chocolate-shavings-studded beverage.
4 simple ways to order a healthier drink at Starbucks:
1. Order a “Short”. I thought the little cups were just for kids. But according to the barista at my local Starbucks, you can order any hot drink as a “short”. It’s a perfectly satisfying eight ounces but makes a huge difference. Consider this:
- Short Chestnut Praline Latte: 5 teaspoons sugar
- Tall Chestnut Praline Latte: 8 teaspoons sugar
- Short Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha: 10 teaspoons sugar
- Grande Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha: 19 teaspoons sugar
- Short Caramel Brulée Latte: 240 calories
- Venti Caramel Brulée Latte: 540 calories
3. Ask for “just one pump” of flavoring. The default is typically three. With one pump, you’ll still get flavor but a lot less sugar.
4. Alternate “dessert drinks” with lighter drinks. A few to consider:
- Cafe Americano. Just straight-up plain coffee, no calories. Add milk and a sweetener if you want. A teaspoon of honey or even a packet of sugar means just 4 grams of sugar (compared to nearly 40 grams of sugar in a Grande Gingerbread Latte).
- Cafe Latte. Espresso and steamed milk. You’re getting a nice amount of milk, which is a rich source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D.
- Cafe Misto: Like a latte but with less milk, so there are fewer calories (just 70 calories for a grande with nonfat milk).
- Hot tea. Black or green. You’ll get antioxidants from the tea leaves, which is a nice perk. Add a bit of milk to make it seem richer.
- Flavored steamed milk. Simply a cup of steamed milk plus flavoring. (This isn’t always on the menu, but you can order it.) Ask for “just one pump”. I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners, but some shops do offer sugar-free syrups that are artificially sweetened. Or sweeten it yourself with a bit of honey or sugar.
If you really, REALLY love those fancy coffee drinks, consider making some at home. It’s more economical–and chances are you won’t load your drink with as much sugar as the coffee shop does. You can add your own flavoring, such as peppermint extract or almond extract. And get a simple, inexpensive milk frother so your homemade drinks seem more special (I have this one from Aerolatte).