A Registered Dietitian On The Healthiest Food To Order At Starbucks

The good news? It’s not hard—there are lots of thoughtfully curated, nutritious and tasty meals and snacks available. Here, the five best options

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When you’re craving more than a grande, non-fat, extra-hot decaf latte, turn to Starbucks for meals that will fill you up at breakfast, lunch or dinner. The only drawback? The sandwiches, protein boxes and meal bowls come pre-packaged, so you’ll be picking out any ingredients you don’t like (sorry) and won’t be able to customize with healthy add-ons. Here, the five best options.

bacon egg breakfast sandwich on cloth napkin, wooden board with coffee — healthiest items to order at starbucks
Photo, Courtesy of Starbucks

Turkey Bacon, Cheddar and Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

An accommodating barista might allow you to make small tweaks to your breakfast sandwich, as they have to unwrap it before tossing it in the oven. Hold the bacon or cheese if you’re trying to cut back on calories and sodium, or skip the bun if you’re following a low-carb or keto lifestyle. As prepared, this well-rounded option has 18 g protein, and is among the lowest in fat and sodium compared to other breakfast sammies. I suggest keeping the cheese for pure melty goodness.

Nutrition facts: 210 calories, 5 g fat, 26 g carb, 18 g protein, 0 g fibre, 560 mg sodium

Baby Greens and Brown Rice Protein Bowl with sauce on side — healthiest items to order at starbucks
Photo, Courtesy of Starbucks

Baby Greens and Brown Rice Protein Bowl

Plant-based eating is a trend that’s here to stay, and this vegan meal—featuring whole grains, veggies and beans—is a shining example. The 15 grams of protein comes from edamame and sunflower seeds, and the bowl is packed with fibre and antioxidants from beets, broccoli, red pepper and kale. Adding apple gives it a crisp sweetness, which is perfectly balanced with the sesame oil and ginger vinaigrette. If you’re trying to follow the newly-revised Canada’s Food Guide, this meal checks all of the boxes.

Nutrition facts: 500 calories, 25 g fat, 58 g carb, 15 g protein, 10 g fibre, 600 mg sodium

Eggs & Cheese Protein Box — healthiest items to order at starbucks
Photo, Courtesy of Starbucks

Eggs & Cheese Protein Box

This 460-calorie “snack” pack is a full meal, brimming with 23 grams of protein, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. It’s simple stuff—two hardboiled eggs, cheese, peanut butter, bread and fruit—and the sugar number looks high, but it’s mostly coming from natural sugars in the apples and grapes, not from added sugar or syrups. A whole-grain option would be better than the white flour pita, but it’s still better than most salty and sugary fast food.

Nutrition facts: 460 calories, 25 g fat, 38 g carb, 23 g protein, 4 g fibre, 550 mg sodium

Chicken & Quinoa Protein Bowl with red sauce on side — healthiest items to order at starbucks
Photo, Courtesy of Starbucks

Chicken & Quinoa Protein Bowl

Fresh and wholesome with a simple ingredient list, this bowl is packed with whole grains, protein-rich chicken and black beans, plus a medley of vegetables, including leafy greens, tomatoes and corn. With 380 satisfying calories, the high fibre and protein combo will keep you feeling full for hours.

Nutrition facts: 380 calories, 14 g fat, 45 g carb, 20 g protein, fibre 8 g, 740 mg sodium

two halves of Caprese Artisan Sandwich — healthiest items to order at starbucks
Photo, Courtesy of Starbucks

Caprese Artisan Sandwich

All of Starbucks’ artisan sandwiches contain adequate amounts of protein and are (unfortunately) made with refined white flour bread, so the best method of comparison is sodium count. It ranges from 800 to 1,650 mg per sandwich, which is a huge difference. The Caprese (basil and mozzarella) has 21 g protein, 820 mg sodium and a delightfully garlicky pesto spread. The Chicken Apple Brie (800 mg sodium) is a solid runner-up, but has two teaspoons of added sugar from the apple butter. Bypass the Cubano, which contains 1,650 mg of sodium—more than the recommended daily intake.

Nutrition facts: 490 calories, 22 g fat, 52 g carb, 20 g protein, 3 g fibre , 820 mg sodium

Cara Rosenbloom is a Toronto-based dietitian, writer, recipe developer and food trends expert at www.WordsToEatBy.ca.