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Whether it's at the airport, a rest stop or on the way to work, Starbucks is a convenient place to grab a meal along with your grande latte. But with all of those tempting pastries and desserts, it can be a hard place to make healthy choices. There are also a number of things on the menu that sound pretty healthy but fall short on nutrition — e.g., the "Protein Bistro Box" that comes with sweetened peanut butter and bread that's not 100 percent whole grain, or the wholesome sounding "Artisan" bread that contains no whole grains at all. Also, there are some foods that are healthy, but don't really taste that great.
So we set out find the tastiest breakfast, lunch and snack items on the Starbucks menu that also fit into a healthy diet — read on for our top 10 favorite healthy foods at Starbucks!
1. Classic Whole Grain Oatmeal
By most standards the oatmeal, which is high in fiber and low in sodium and saturated fat and contains no added sugar, is the healthiest breakfast item on Starbucks' menu — it also happens to be one of the best tasting. The oatmeal has a slightly nutty flavor and a great texture that's a combo of toothsome and creamy — not mushy! — thanks, presumably, to the fact that it's a blend of old-fashioned and steel-cut oats. Add the packets of nuts and fruit for a flavor and nutrition boost, but skip the brown sugar to keep it extra healthy. A splash of milk is a nice addition too.
2. Egg and Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich
Sometimes you just have to scratch that egg sandwich itch, and this classic egg and cheddar on an English muffin is a pretty good way to do it. Sure, the "wheat muffin" is only made with part whole wheat flour (the rest is white flour — tricky!), but it clocks in at a fairly modest 280 calories and has less sodium than all of Starbucks' other breakfast sandwiches. This is our favorite pick when we want whole eggs, not egg whites.
3. Spinach, Feta and Egg White Sandwich
Roasted tomatoes and spinach boost the flavor and the fiber in this egg white sandwich, which comes in a part-whole-wheat wrap that is miraculously crispy, not soggy. Feta cheese further boosts the flavor and adds some calcium and more protein, though it also contributes to the high sodium content of the sandwich, which has 35 percent of the daily value for sodium — a bit much to bite off at breakfast.
4. Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon and Egg White Sandwich
Another good pick for scratching that McMuffin-type-sandwich itch, this satisfying sandwich has a decent amount of protein (16 grams) and is low in calories (230), fairly low in saturated fat (2.5 grams, which is 12 percent of the daily value), and doesn't totally break the bank when it comes to sodium (it has 23 percent of the daily value). But the little package packs a lot of flavor and textures, and you really don't miss the fat in the reduced fat turkey bacon, which is similar to Canadian bacon, and the cheese once it's all sandwiched into the muffin.
5. Avocado Spread
People are going crazy for Starbucks' new avocado spread, and for good reason: It adds tangy, creamy goodness to anything you'd like to spread or dollop it on (breakfast sandwiches, salad bowls, etc.). And avocado is a great source of healthy fats as well as fiber (the 90-calorie serving has 4 grams of fiber). We've seen some comments online questioning whether the bright color of the spread is natural. It appears that it is: The spread's ingredient list says it contains just Haas avocados, sea salt, onion, garlic, jalapeño pepper and lime juice, and a Starbucks rep says it uses high pressure processing (HPP) rather than heat or preservatives to keep it fresh.
6. Hearty Veggie and Brown Rice Salad Bowl
Veggie lovers, rejoice! This vegetarian grain bowl is full of good tasting, good looking and good for you vegetables, including kale, red cabbage, beets, broccoli, peas and roasted tomatoes. But what really pulls it all together is the creamy, tangy lemon-tahini dressing. Not only is it delicious, but its healthy fats from sesame paste and olive oil help your body absorb the veggie's fat-soluble vitamins.
7. Zesty Chicken and Black Bean Salad Bowl
Another grain bowl winner, this combo of chicken, black beans, quinoa, sweet corn, tomatoes, crunchy jicama and salty feta, has a punchy "Southwestern" flavor. And it's got an impressive 14 grams of protein, thanks to the chicken, black beans and quinoa. It's great as-is, but a container of that avocado spread would be a nice touch on top.
8. Thai-Style Peanut Chicken Wrap
Starbucks had us at "spicy peanut-coconut sauce," but even without the sauce (which goes into the sandwich and also comes on the side for dipping), this chicken and veggie wrap is pretty darn tasty. Red peppers and a crunchy carrot, jicama, and cabbage slaw add texture and punch up the flavor, fiber and vitamin content of the sandwich, which has an impressive amount of vitamins A and C. It also has less sodium than some sandwiches that might sound healthier (21 percent of the daily value, compared to 39 percent for Starbucks' smoked turkey and Swiss sandwich).
9. Seasonal Harvest Fruit Blend
You really can't go wrong with a straight-up, no-sugar added fruit cup to up the nutritional content of any meal, and Starbucks' Seasonal Harvest Fruit Blend (which changes but seems to usually involve apples, grapes and oranges) fits the bill nicely... though it has to be said that the cups at our local Starbucks don't look quite as gorgeous as the picture of the blend of Starbucks' website...
10. Bissinger’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Mini
These little bites are a perfect portion-controlled treat, and let's not forget about the health benefits of dark chocolate — including boosting brain power!