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Smart Food Choices at Starbucks

Updated on February 1, 2013

Food Choices at Starbucks

When you head out to your local coffee shop, there are many edible items to entice you. Even mass marketers know that having a cup of our favorite coffee puts us into a relaxed state of mind. Many advertising campaigns are full of pictures of happy people, hands cupping a coffee while enjoying whatever product they are trying to sell.

Studies have shown, that when enjoying a cup of coffee, it is like enjoying a favorite alcoholic beverage, such as wine. This puts us into a state of mind where we have less judgement when making a decision. This is why people tend to get weak, and order a food item at their favorite coffee shop.

Rose Reisman's book Choose it and Lose it covers some of the food choices at your local Starbucks, and tries to steer consumers towards healthier choices. It is along the same line as Eat This, Not That, where one food choice can be replaced by a similar flavor note, but a much healthier choice. Of course this could be true of any coffee house, or even choices at your local grocery store.

This is what I learned.

Zucchini Walnut Muffin
Zucchini Walnut Muffin

Avoid- Zucchini Walnut Muffins

Lets start in the muffin category. One would think that zucchini, and omega 3 packed walnuts would be the smart choice in the Zucchini Walnut Muffin. Wrong!! Starbucks says this muffin is made with real zucchini, and is wonderfully spiced, then topped with walnuts.

Zucchini Walnut Muffin
Blueberry Struesel Muffin
Saturated Fat

Choose- Blueberry Struesel Muffin

Reisman suggests you instead choose the blueberry struesel muffin. You will save 130 calories, and more than half the fat. Of course blueberries are known as brain candy, antioxidant powerhouses. Starbucks claims this muffin is 1/3 blueberry, with just enough dough to hold the sucker together!

Blueberry Scone
Blueberry Scone

Avoid- Blueberry Scone

So, we quickly learn that not all of the blueberry products are winners. Let's look at the blueberry scone. This baked good, inspired by the Brits, is surprisingly unhealthy according to Reisman. One scone has the same number of calories as, wait for it, 2.5 cups of Cool Whip! They are even packed with hidden sodium, to make this an unhealthy choice.

Baked Good
Blueberry Scone
Butter Croissant
Saturated Fat

Choose- Butter Croissant

Who would have thought that a Butter Croissant would be the better choice? It has 170 fewer calories, 7 grams less fat and half the carbs. But don't forget these are basically empty calories, so this should not be an everyday choice.

Avoid- Cheese and Fruit Plate

Sounds like a healthy choice, right? Well at 480 calories, and 28 grams of fat, Reisman suggests you look at other options. The cheese is obviously the culprit here, containing most of the fat. There are three cheeses included- gouda, brie and 2 year aged cheddar. The crackers are nine grain, to try to make you feed good about this choice.

Bistro Box
Fruit and Cheese

Choose- Protein Bistro Box

Reisman suggests you choose the protein plate instead for a savings of 120 calories and 10 grams of fat. It will also make you feel fuller longer, as the body tries to digest the protein. Starbucks describes this snack plate as an egg, cheddar cheese, honey peanut butter spread, muesli bread, apples and grapes.

Avoid- Chocolate Chip Cookie

It broke my heart to find out how many calories this classic packs! 440 calories for one cookie is a little excessive, but they sure are good. Starbucks describes this as a buttery, chewy cookie, packed with chocolate chips. They literally melt in your mouth, which apparently is a bad thing!

Snack food
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Chocolate Caramel Pretzel

Choose- Chocolate Caramel Pretzel

With about half of the calories, fats and carbs of the cookie, these pretzels can satisfy the chocolate and caramel cravings you may have. This is the smarter choice to have with your coffee.

Avoid- Sausage and Cheddar Classic Breakfast Sandwich

With almost two thirds of your daily sodium content, and 500 calories, this sandwich can really be a calorie laden way to start the day. Breakfast sandwiches are a very popular item at Starbucks, as people grab a coffee and some food first thing in the morning. They describe this one as the quintessential sausage, egg and cheddar breakfast sandwich on an English muffin

Breakfast Sandwich
Sausage and Cheddar
Ham and Cheddar
Saturated Fat

Choose- Ham and Cheddar Artisan Breakfast Sandwich

This sandwich will save you 150 calories, and 12 grams of fat, for an equally delicious start to the day. Starbucks describes this as Hickory smoked ham, aged cheddar and Parmesan frittata egg on an artisan roll. The 20 grams of protein should help keep that full feeling until lunch time.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Unfortunately I dont care for hard boiled eggs, so the cheese and crackers are for me!

    • mandination profile image

      Amanda W 

      5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      I work in a Starbucks that's in a frozen food market. This means we don't get a lot of the things like bistro boxes and the fruit and cheese plate. But, there's tons of healthy snacks like nuts and Kind bars.

      Starbucks has added some healthier sandwich options since they switched bakeries. They've also added some really high fat stuff. If your careful, I think you can make good choices when grabbing a bite to eat at Starbucks.

    • kitkat1141 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I agree, we are not exactly talking health food here, but at least you can make an informed choice if you need to buy something to eat at Starbucks!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the very useful information, kitkat1141. It great to know about healthier food choices at Starbucks. These foods still have nutritional problems, but when we're so hungry that we have to buy food with our coffee the information in this hub will be very helpful!

    • kitkat1141 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for looking. Most people are surprised to learn how quickly our local coffee houses have gained market share in the fast food department.

      Even the "healthy" choices here should only be consumed in moderation. These ideas can be used at any restaurant, or even at home in your own kitchen!

    • Kasman profile image


      7 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Know exactly what you're talking about. It's almost like a narcotic, coffee. It makes you trust the food behind the glass more. We try not to eat too much out at Starbucks these days. If we get a coffee, we usually try to leave it at that. Too much fattening stuff! Very informative hub. Voting up!


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