Now, here’s something we all need for Halloween…like a hole in the head, lol!
But seriously, I’m a huge Starbucks fan a-n-d Fall is my absolute favorite season of the year! So, ya, I’m happy to start thinking about preparing for Halloween and the upcoming autumn months!
There WILL be lots of seasonally-themed posts for Halloween and the cooler weather forthcoming!
But, for now, I thought I’d wander over to the Starbucks website to discover exactly what kind of beverages an autumn-loving person might order up to satisfy that sweet and spicy, fragrant experience craving they might be having!
And here’s what I found…
Pumpkin Spice Latte – a hot drink and Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino® Blended Beverage – served cold.
They both look amazingly delicious!
So, ever the researcher that I am…I clicked on through to the page for each drink to learn more about the nutritional values.
The calories and carb content are CRAZY high!
So, as much as I’d love to indulge…maybe one time for Halloween only, lol…I have to wonder if these libations could be ordered as a more “healthy” version of the originals?
Fortunately, I have access to secret-insider-information! My daughter worked as a barista at Starbucks for…like…8 years or something, lol! She had some great suggestions for substitutions that I wasn’t sure of.
HERE’S WHAT WE’RE WORKING WITH
These are the default nutrition stats from the Starbucks website –
(The first is for the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the second is for the Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino)
Described on their website as “Our signature espresso and steamed milk with the celebrated flavor combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Enjoy it topped with whipped cream and real pumpkin pie spices.” YUM!
Here are my healthier-version suggestions:
Starbucks is really great about supporting plant-based options instead of the traditional cow’s milk dairy. So, you can order this drink skipping the whipped cream on top and replacing the default 2% milk with your choice of; almond, coconut or soy milk and really save on calories! However…the signature pumpkin flavor in this drink comes from their special Pumpkin Spice Sauce…which, unfortunately, contains Condensed Skim Milk. So, there is no way around that. My best recommendation is to order an Cafe’ Latte with steamed non-dairy milk of choice, then have them add a few pumps of flavoring syrup – mix & match from;
- vanilla (available sugar-free)
- caramel (available sugar-free)
- cinnamon dolce (available sugar-free)
- hazelnut (available sugar-free)
- toffee nut
Then have them add their Pumpkin Spice Topping and VOILA! A much healthier version (if you choose sugar-free syrups then your total calories for this beverage would be; almond milk = 100 cal./6g fat, coconut milk = 140 cal./8g fat, and soy milk = 190 cal./6g fat) than the above and hopefully just about as tasty!
Unfortunately, even ordering the whole-milk and whipped cream version, this drink STILL packs a whopping 52g of carbohydrates!
And ZERO dietary fiber. So, ya…no.
Net carbs do not apply here!
How else might we fix this drink to make it more keto-friendly?
I recommend a similar choice to my vegan/wfpb recommendation above…but with some significant tweeks;
1. Still order the Cafe’ Latte…but instead of using traditional whole milk, have them replace it with half heavy whipping cream & water steamed. I found a similar version, along with other very helpful Starbucks Keto-Friendly drink options at MR. SKINNY PANTS WEBSITE
2. Choose one or more sugar-free flavored syrups.
3. Still have them top it with the Pumpkin Spice Topping which has no sugar added [Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove, Sulfiting Agents] so shouldn’t add any meaningful carbs.
4. I’m not exactly sure on the actual carb count here…but based on the info at the Starbucks website and on the MR. SKINNY PANTS WEBSITE this should have somewhere between 1g-4g carbs.
Their website description states “We blend mocha sauce and toffee nut syrup with coffee, milk and ice, then finish it off with sweetened whipped cream, caramel sauce and a blend of turbinado sugar and sea salt for an explosion of flavor in every sip.”
Again, sounds delicious!
But at 440 calories/16g fat (10g saturated) / 72g carbs and only 1g. dietary fiber this drink is definitely NOT a healthy beverage to be consuming!
So, once again, here are my healthier-version suggestions:
If you skip the whipped cream on top, and switch out the cow’s milk with a non-dairy substitute, this drink is actually pretty easy to make vegan.
But it’s still pretty high in calories, even without the whipped cream…right around 300, so not such a “healthy” choice. It definitely doesn’t fit the Whole Foods Plant Based (WFPB) profile. But let’s see if we can make it a wee bit healthier, anyhow –
- Substitute the regular Mocha Sauce for their Skinny Mocha Sauce
- Substitute the regular Toffee Nut Syrup for the Sugar-Free version.
- Skip the Caramel Sauce on top and instead have them add a few pumps of Sugar-Free Caramel syrup.
- They could still top with the turbinado sugar and sea salt for the “explosion of flavor” if you want it.
I can’t be sure of the exact calorie comparison because there’s no way to know precisely how much of what goes into each beverage. But cup-for-cup, 1 cup of the following milks equal;
nonfat cow’s milk = 91 calories
almond milk = 30 calories
coconut milk = 45 calories
soy milk = 131 calories
The Skinny Mocha listed on the Starbucks website has 170 calories and is made with nonfat cow’s milk. So, I have no idea what portion of 1-cup of milk is used in this beverage…but let’s go with a full-cup’s worth for our calculations. Totally arbitrary, I know…but I have limited information to work with here.
So, 170 calories minus the 91 calories for the cow’s milk = 79 calories for the other ingredients. If that’s close, then your non-dairy version would be;
almond milk: 30 calories + 79 = 109 calories
coconut milk = 45 calories + 79 = 124 calories
soy milk = 131 calories + 79 = 210 calories
The sugar-free syrups add no additional calories…but obviously, the turbinado sugar would be additional, if you choose to have that put on top.
Unfortunately, even when Starbucks uses what they call their “Skinny Mocha Sauce” [Water, Cocoa Powder Processed With Alkali, Natural Flavors, Arabic Gum, Sucralose, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Salt] the 16 oz. Skinny Mocha beverage still has an unbelievable 24g of carbs! Wait a minute…this drink also has some fiber…4g…so, if we allow for that then it comes down to TWENTY GRAMS OF CARBS for one teensy-weensy cup of coffee?!?
Oh, that’s because they make it with…wait for it…SKIM MILK.
So, duh…let’s have them replace that with half heavy cream and half water, as we did with the Pumpkin Spice Latte above, but this time don’t have them steam it.
Add a few pumps of Sugar-Free Caramel and Toffee Nut Syrups.
Blend with ice, then my daughter says you can have them top with sea salt if you want that “salted caramel” punch.
Skip the whipping cream on top since it’s sweetened with sugar.
But basically…what you’re left with is a GREAT, low-carb, keto-friendly version of this drink!
There you have it!
Two seasonal Starbucks beverages that you can order, to your specifications, so that you don’t derail your diet but still get to enjoy the Tastes of the Season!
Oh, and if you DO order one of these drinks for Halloween IN THAT ADORABLE SPIDER WEB CUP, then I would definitely, DEFINITELY love it if you’d please post a photo so I can see it!
Until next time…
I wish you good health!