Hot cocoa is on the list!

By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD
October 06, 2017

Need a healthy pick me up? I often advise my clients to look for Starbucks when they're out and about, and craving a snack or drink—even the folks who don't drink coffee. The chain offers plenty of nutritious bites, like nuts, pumpkin seeds, kale chips, fresh bananas, and popcorn. And now Starbucks is serving up a decent selection of healthy beverages, too. And I don't just mean black coffee and tea. Below are my picks from the menu (including some that are naturally caffeine-free), based on calories, sugar content, and ingredients:

If you're craving juice ...

Get an Evolution Fresh. This juice brand, owned by Starbucks, is available in other stores as well. While Starbucks doesn’t carry the complete line, there is one regularly stocked option I recommend: Sweet Greens and Lemon. The blend is like a liquid salad, with celery, apple, cucumber, spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, lime, lemon, and parsley. The entire 16-ounce bottle provides 100 calories, 32% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium, 16% of the DV for vitamin A, and 12% of the DV for vitamin C.

If you're jonesing for caffeine ...

Order a tall caffè latte with almond milk (iced or hot). The iced version has just 50 calories from 5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fat, and 1 gram of protein. It provides 25% of your daily calcium needs and 8% of the DV for vitamin A, with a reasonable 75 mg of caffeine. The hot version contains the same amount of caffeine and 80 calories, from 7 grams of carb, 5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein. It also has slightly more calcium (35% of the DV) and vitamin A (10%).

If you need chocolate ...

Ask for a hot cocoa made with coconut milk. A tall with "no whip" clocks in at just 210 calories—not too bad considering you’ll get your chocolate fix along with 25% of the DV for calcium, 20% of the DV for iron, 10% of the DV for vitamin A, and 12% of the DV for fiber. Just keep in mind, it’s not low-carb. The cocoa includes 28 grams of sugar, which is about 7 teaspoons worth and more than the recommended daily cap. In other words, make it an occasional treat.

If you want something cozy ...

Get a short (8 oz.) steamed apple juice. While a whole apple is a better choice, of course, this fall treat can count toward your daily fruit intake. Made from 100% pressed apple juice (not from concentrate) and with no added sugar, you can sprinkle in a little cinnamon and nutmeg and warm up sans caffeine for 120 calories.

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If you're looking to hydrate ...

Pick up a San Pellegrino sparkling mineral water. Flat water is better for your digestive health (bubbles can cause bloating)but sometimes a little fizz can make H2O feel like a fancy treat. A plain San Pellegrino provides a bubbly fix for zero calories, only 20 milligrams of sodium in a 16-ounce bottle, and nothing artificial.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.