Starbucks seasonal drinks are brewing and if they bring extra joy to your holiday season, then by all means indulge in your favorite cup.
But before you place your order and take a sip, consider the following ways to make each of these seven drinks a little healthier.
Espresso, steamed milk, and rich caramel brulée sauce, topped with whipped cream and caramel brulée topping are the core of the Caramel Brulée Latte.
But yikes, the grande size packs in 450 calories, 70 grams of carbohydrates and 47 grams of sugar.
For some perspective, the American Heart Association recommends consuming a total of 25 grams of sugar a day for women and 50 grams for men.
“When choosing this beverage, opt for nonfat milk and hold the whipped cream to shave 130 calories and 17 grams of fat per serving (grande),” Erin Palinski-Wade, nutritionist and author of “Belly Fat Diet for Dummies,” told Healthline.
The grande size of the Chestnut Praline Latte using whole milk and whipped cream contains 370 calories and 39 grams of sugar. By swapping whole milk for almond milk, you can cut 110 calories and 10 grams of sugar.
Lose the whipped cream and say goodbye to 60 more calories plus 5 fewer grams of sugar.
Devin Alexander, celebrity chef and author of “You Can Have It!,” says go short, which is still 8 ounces and contains 21 grams of sugar.
“Sugar, sugar, and more sugar,” Alexander told Healthline. “You have to remember that it’s nearly impossible not to consume any other sugar throughout the day from fruit and other foods you eat, so drink smaller sizes of these drinks or share with a friend.”
She also points out that in the short-sized drink, if you get rid of the spiced praline crumbs topping, you lose 5 grams of fat and 60 calories.
“I doubt you can taste the crumbs on this, anyway,” she said.
If a seasonal drink is a must for you, Alexander says the Gingerbread Latte may be your healthiest choice at Starbucks since it contains the least amount of sugar and calories than many of its seasonal counterparts.
To keep this drink to a healthy 100 calories, Palinski-Wade says opt for the short size with nonfat milk, and skip the whipped cream.
Alexander notes that syrup in drinks like this one spike up the sugar count. She suggests asking for more nutmeg and less gingerbread syrup to get the seasonal flavor minus high amounts of sugar.
”If it’s not sweet enough, put in a zero-calorie natural sweetener,” she said.
Like the Gingerbread Latte, the Juniper Latte contains fewer calories than other options.
“This can be a good choice for those who wish to enjoy a festive latte more often,” Palinski-Wade said.
As with the other drinks, choosing a smaller size, as well as nonfat milk or almond milk will reduce the total fat and calorie content.
Since this drink contains a syrup, Alexander suggests skipping the dusting of pine-citrus sugar to cut back on sugar.
This drink in the grande size (and when made with whole milk) provides a shocking 540 calories and 59 grams of sugar.
“Although no substitution on this beverage cuts the sugar dramatically, swapping the whole milk for almond milk can save 50 calories and 5 grams of sugar,” said Palinski-Wade.
Yet, your best bet, she added, “Is to scale down the portion and choose a kid’s serving size instead to enjoy the same great taste with half the calories.”
If you order the grande version of the Peppermint Mocha with 2 percent milk, you’ll consume 440 calories and 54 grams of sugar. Swap in almond milk and save 70 calories and 8 grams of sugar.
“But an even better option is to ask your barista to go light on the peppermint syrup and mocha sauce to cut down on the added sugar further,” Palinski-Wade said.
Alexander agrees. However, she suggests making this one and others at home.
“You can make this for 90 calories with virtually no sugar. The tiniest bit of peppermint extract can give you that flavor. For the dark chocolate, you can use a Stevia-sweetened chocolate or skip the chocolate if you use mocha sauce,” said Alexander.
At home, you can also replace store-bought whipped topping with homemade versions, such as Alexander’s, which contains 10 calories a tablespoon and is low in sugar.
The grande size of the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha is similar in calorie count and sugar to the peppermint mocha. In addition to cutting out the whipped topping and drizzles of sugar sparkles and crispy white pearls, Alexander says consider cutting back on the mocha sauce and upping the expresso.
“Again if it’s not sweet enough this way, add a sweetener like Stevia to the mix,” she said.
Alexander suggests thinking about the following before you dash off to Starbucks.
Note that nutritional information varies
“Most menus have a disclaimer stating that the nutritional information varies. This means [a drink] could be 800 or 40 calories,” Alexander said.
Cut what you don’t love
“Every time I work with people I ask what it is that they love about a particular food. For example, with pizza, I’ll ask, ‘Do you love the crust or cheese or meaty toppings?’ If you love a big deep crust, then put veggies on it or if you love meaty toppings, then just put it on flat bread,” said Alexander. “Do the same with ingredients in these drinks. Think about what you really love and what you could give up. Ask yourself if you like the crumbs or whipped topping more?”
Adjust your meals
If you’re going to drink a beverage high in sugar, carbs, and fat, make sure your meals the rest of the day are healthy.
“Consider the drink your dessert, and whatever meal you have before or after you drink it, make sure it doesn’t have a carb at all. For instance, get a salad with a lean protein on it,” said Alexander.