The Best Starbucks Order for Every Diet
The most difficult part of ordering food or drink from Starbucks is having to look someone in the eyes and talk to another human being. That probably explains why pre-ordering on its mobile app is so popular! But it can be even more challenging to find something to eat if you have dietary restrictions. Sure, you could ask the barista for their suggestions, but then you’d have to A) talk to them!!!, and B) ask a million questions. Besides, they can’t possibly know every ingredient of every item by heart.
Instead, we asked nutritionists and other health experts on your best food and drink options at Starbucks whether you’re keto, vegan, paleo, or gluten free.
What to eat: Sous Vide Egg Bites: Bacon & Gruyere + Creminelli Sopressata Monterey Jack Snack Tray
Tread very lightly at Starbucks, my keto-eating friends. “I’m a big advocate of the keto diet, and Starbucks is filled with high-carb products,” notes Tracee Gluhaich, an Integrative Health Coach and personal trainer. But she vouches for the Egg Bites with Bacon and Gruyere -- especially paired with a drip coffee and heavy cream. “This is a perfect keto combo!” she said. “[A coffee with] two tablespoons of heavy cream [and together with the egg bites] contain 412 calories, 33 grams fat, 10 grams carbs, and 19 grams protein.”
If you’re hungry, but not hungry hungry, listen to Gabby Geerts, the RD at Green Chef, who likes the Creminelli Sopressata Monterey Jack Snack Tray. The fancy-as-hell sounding meat and cheese plate “complies to keto requirements and is a satisfying in-between meal selection” with zero carbs, 17 grams fat, and 15 grams protein.
What to drink: Anything where you can substitute the milk and sugar
Part of the beauty of Starbucks is the ability for the barista to customize almost any drink to your specs! Gluhaich says that anything with milk can get heavy cream instead, and you can use its sugar-free syrup for any drink that has pumps of sugar. One of her favorites is a “latte with heavy cream and sugar-free vanilla syrup -- either iced or hot.” If you ask nicely, you can get that blended and basically customize your own Frappuccino.
What to eat: Eggs & Cheese Protein Box (modified) + Cheese & Fruit Protein Box (modified)
Those Protein Boxes come in handy once again when it comes to eating paleo! Oh, and if you wanna order paleo-friendly food at other chains, we’ve got you covered. “I can recommend the Eggs & Cheese Protein Box (just remove the multigrain roll) as well as the Cheese & Fruit Protein Box (without the crackers),” Spence notes. “Since Paleo is protein-based and emphasizes low grain and legume consumption, these options would be perfect.”
What to drink: Herbal tea
SFGate handily lays out which drinks are allowable under the paleo diet according to its founder, and coffee is not one of them. That takes out a huge chunk of the Starbucks menu. “Anything that’s a ‘specialty drink’ [like a Frappuccino] has sugar in it, which is a paleo no no,” Spence says. “And quite frankly it’s something everyone should be wary of.”
The good news is that herbal tea is allowed. Starbucks owns Teavana, and will happily pour you a cup of its plain green tea Emperor’s Cloud and Mist. Ysabel Montemayor, lead registered dietician at Fresh n' Lean, recommends the Teavana Shaken Iced Green Tea with one modification. “This green tea is usually shaken with cane sugar, which most individuals on a paleo diet avoid, so ask for the tea unsweetened or to be shaken with an alternative sweetener, such as honey or stevia,” she says.
What to eat: Cheese & Fruit Protein Box (modified)
Starbucks’ line of eight different Protein Boxes and Bowls can be modified to accommodate a number of diets, even stricter ones. “The raw food diet is tricky unfortunately,” explains Shana Spence, MS, RDN, CDN. “But what I can recommend is getting whole fruit or the protein bowls that have fruit and taking out everything else.” So grab a banana or apple from one of those wicker baskets usually found in front of the counter, or ask for a Cheese & Fruit Protein Box and go nuts on the apples and grapes.
What to drink: Umm, water?
This one is a little tougher. “No coffee or tea is allowed on the raw food diet,” notes Spence. That sure does narrow it down, doesn’t it? Beth Nydick, a Certified Health Coach, offers an outside-the-box solution, recommending you find a “local, raw-friendly cafe instead.”
What to eat: Cauliflower Tabbouleh Side Salad
The words “side salad” might call to mind a sad, flavorless plate of iceberg lettuce, but this is 2019! This year would never do you like that. This salad features a host of ingredients that actually have flavor: chopped parsley, mint, cucumber, tomato, riced cauliflower, and lemon juice on a bed of arugula. Geerts loves it too because it’s “free of grains, dairy, and soy, which makes it a perfect dish for Whole30.” Not only that, it’s quite healthy! “[The salad is] rich in good fats from the olive oil, and it has fiber from the arugula, which will keep you full and provide essential vitamins and minerals.”
What to drink: Hot Coffee + Iced Black Tea (modified) + Nitro Cold Brew
Sugar and dairy might as well be two food groups for the average American, but Whole30 devotees know it’s verboten. That’s why Geerts recommends going simple with a hot black coffee (with a nut milk if you want cream), or the sugar and dairy-free Nitro Cold Brew, which lends a creamy mouthfeel without all that milk. While the Iced Black Tea is typically sweetened, Nydick says to order it unsweetened so that it “keeps you hydrated and free from the overload of sugars.”
What to eat: Lentils & Vegetable Protein Bowl with Brown Rice + That’s It fruit bars
Adhering to a vegan diet has gotten easier in restaurants and coffee shops over the past couple years, and that’s nowhere more evident than in this slam dunk of a meal from Starbucks. “The Protein Bowl is sure to keep you full and satisfied with protein-packed lentils and a good source of fiber with brown rice and butternut squash,” notes Lorraine Chu, MS, RDN. Montemayor loves the fact that it’s full of “colorful vegetables, whole grains, and flavorful toppings” and especially its 23 grams protein and 21 grams fiber. If you need something to grab and go, Rachel Fine MS, RD, CSSD, CDN likes the That’s It fruit bars. “They’re minimally processed and full of vitamins,” she says.
What to drink: Emperor’s Cloud and Mist Green Tea + Caffe Latte (modified)
Making any drink vegan at the ‘bucks is easy enough, especially with the chain now offering soy, almond, and coconut milk. Fine points out that some of the more popular non-vegan ingredients to stay away from are whipped cream, java chips, protein powder, caramel drizzle, and the cinnamon dolce topping. Chu says that she likes pairing the lentil bowl with black coffee or a brewed tea like the Emperor’s Cloud and Mist, as it “contains large amounts of catechins, a natural antioxidant that helps protect against cell damage.”
What to eat: Gluten-Free Marshmallow Dream Bar
It’s slim pickings on the food front when it comes to gluten-free eats, as Colleen Wysocki-Woods, MS, RDN explains, “For those with celiac disease, the only food item Starbucks can guarantee is gluten free is the Marshmallow Dream Bar.” One potential drawback to this decadent dessert is that “many with celiac disease are also lactose intolerant, and may need to avoid milk products like these.”
What to drink: Mint Majesty Herbal Tea + Flat White
Wysocki-Woods likes the caffeine-free mint cup with a dash of lemon verbena not only because it’s gluten free. “This drink is free of the top eight allergens as well as gluten, and mint is known to soothe the stomach if you’re having a GI distress day,” she says. Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC likes the flat white and its mix of whole milk and ristretto shots of espresso for those who live gluten free.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, get Eatmail for more food coverage, and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.