Few things compare to a venti, delicious Starbucks pumpkin spice Frappuccino. Indulging in one is practically a rite of passage in North America, marking the official transition from summer to fall.
However tasty these beverages may be, they don’t qualify as health drinks. All the fat and calories can stick to your waistline in no time — and humans don’t need extra padding to hibernate through the winter. Can you make Starbucks pumpkin spice frappuccino healthier? Here’s the skinny.
What weighs down so many Starbucks drinks, not just their pumpkin spice frappuccino? The answer lies in the ingredients. Your typical creamy frappe rings in at over 400 calories — enough for a small meal.
The calorie pop doesn’t come from the high octane stuff. While espresso contains trace amounts of fat, both it and brewed coffee weigh in at less than three calories per serving.
The trouble starts with your milk choice. Whole milk contains nearly 150 calories per serving and eight grams of fat. Whipped cream adds extra dairy calories. Pour on some chocolate chips, and the calorie count keeps ticking.
The flavored syrup likewise contains calories. It’s pretty challenging to replicate the exact flavor, but you can come close by adding a bit of allspice and nutmeg to your grounds at home if you want a skinnier DIY version of this classic beverage.
What can you do if you want to indulge in this September rite of passage without opting for your sweatpants over skinny jeans? Here are six ways you can make your Starbucks pumpkin spice frappuccino healthier.
Your first option for making your frappe kinder to your waistline is switching your milk selection. If you want to stay with dairy, go for nonfat or 2% to cut fat and calories. You can also choose from plant-based alternatives at the storefront: coconut, almond, oat milk or soy. If it’s calories you hope to slash, almond is your best bet, although all four choices contain fewer calories than traditional whole dairy.
Are you looking to DIY at home? Cashew milk is an excellent choice — its light, nutty and sweet flavor enhances the other ingredients. Macadamia milk is another, if slightly more pricey, option.
Sugar packets aren’t your only choice for sweetening your morning cuppa. Many Starbucks locations offer plant-based stevia, which won’t affect your blood glucose the same way. They also have artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. Some sites provide monk fruit, another plant-based sweetener with a negligible effect on your blood sugar.
If you’re after health benefits beyond cutting calories, consider substituting honey for sugar. This substance has antimicrobial properties that might help you stave off the first winter cold of the season. It also coats a sore throat if you have already caught a bug.
The same rule that works for soups applies to coffee drinks. The clearer your brew, the lower in fat and calories it will generally be. For example, a Starbucks mango dragonfruit refresher has only 90 calories. Adding coconut milk to make a signature pink drink ups the calorie count to 200.
Your best bet for the skinniest Starbucks cuppa may be a plain iced coffee. You’ll only ingest five tiny calories but get plenty of caffeine to power you through your morning.
Ice dilutes drinks, reducing the overall calorie content. It might also make you sip more slowly, paying more mindful attention to when you feel full.
For example, a regular cafe latte, tall, will set you back 180 calories. The same beverage, iced, weighs in at half of that at 90.
This suggestion may sound profane, but you can cut fat and calories from your favorite Starbucks beverage by skipping the whipped cream. You’ll trim 100 calories or more from your favorite brew when you do.
You have more leeway if you DIY. Plant-based whipped creams like almond have fewer calories than the dairy versions.
Finally, there’s no law against making a pumpkin spice frappuccino at home. You can even add the signature taste to your regular coffee — just mix some cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg with your grounds. Cinnamon helps you control blood sugar, and ginger eases digestion — you could be doing your health some good.
All you need is a blender to mix your ingredients until smooth. Go crazy, mixing up new drink combinations. Why not try mixing coffee and green tea, for example? You’ll benefit from the various antioxidants found in each.
An autumn rite of passage is an indulging in a thick, rich, pumpkin spice frappuccino. While this beverage may be delicious, it isn’t healthy.
However, minor modifications can improve your brew. Can you make Starbucks pumpkin spice frappaccino healthier? Try the above tips.