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The Starbucks Holiday Menu is Back – See the Newest Additions (and Learn How to Make Them Healthier)

‘Tis not exactly the season yet, but we’re here for it

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Starting Nov. 3, Starbucks will serve two new hot Christmas drinks for the holidays: Praline Cookie Hot Chocolate and Toffee Nut Cream Cold Brew. Along with the new beverages, the season will also introduce Pigs Under Blanket Roll, a Toffee Nut Muffin and a Toffee Nut Mini Loaf Cake.

The 2022 seasonal menu includes all the classic holiday drinks as well, like the Gingerbread Latte, Eggnog Latte, Toffee Nut Latte, and Caramel Waffle Latte. Our favorite sweet treats will also return: the Ginger Mini Loaf Cake, Christmas Tree Brownie and Red Velvet Loaf Cake.

As much as we love this news, our teeth already hurt and we can feel the sugar headaches coming on. RD Elizabeth Shaw says that while she enjoys the occasional Starbucks visit, constantly loading up on drink choices that are high in added sugars isn’t sustainable.

This is especially true if you’re sensitive to sugar or follow a non-dairy lifestyle.

“On average, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend to limit added sugar consumption to no more than 10 percent of daily calories, or 200 calories for someone on a 2000 calorie diet,” Shaw says. “This equates to about 12 teaspoons of sugar (1 teaspoon = about 4 grams.)”

An important point to remember, Shaw points out, is to distinguish between total sugar or added sugar. Starbucks drinks most commonly contain added sugars, which include any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are put into foods or beverages during processing or preparation. Natural sugars are not as harmful in large quantities and even offer nutrients that keep your body healthy, provide fast yet stable energy, and keep your metabolism stable.

In general, Shaw says if a Starbucks drink has 12.2 grams of added sugars, this would be on the higher side. While that’s fine on occasion, it’s helpful to take note of this and limit added sugar throughout the day.

Here’s how to tweak your favorite seasonal Starbucks drink when placing your order:

Praline Cookie Hot Chocolate

This hot chocolate can be made with non-dairy milk alternatives and vegan whipped cream, if needed. For less of a sugar hangover, you can request light cookie crumb toppings and two pumps of praline cookie mocha sauce, rather than the standard four. That takes your sugar content from 48g to 29g!

“I usually suggest lowering to two pumps so you can still taste the sweetness without needing to add anything additional,” Shaw says. 

Toffee Nut Cream Cold Brew

For a non-dairy version of this cold brew, you can ask your barista to top your drink with cold foam made with non-dairy milk. They may ask if you have a preference between coconut, oat, soy, and almond. Starbucks on Twitter warns that the texture might not be the same as regular cold foam, but promises it’s just as delicious.

Iced Sugar Cookie Latte

The Iced Sugar Cookie Latte is – shocker – very sugary! If that’s what your taste buds crave, go for it. But for those who like things a little less sweet, ask for one pump of sugar cookie syrup and a packet of stevia in the raw. That takes the latte from 25g of sugar to 8.5g. Opt for a dust of cinnamon instead of sugar sprinkles. 

Some Starbucks hackers have suggested replacing all sweetener with sugar-free syrup, but Shaw is cautious about this.

“While some may prefer the sugar-free syrup varieties, I recommend to use these sparingly,” she says. “Recent research shows mixed reviews on how non-nutritive sweeteners area affecting your body, and with so many  unknowns and individual needs, it’s best to learn how to adjust the actual drink itself to meet your taste and individual nutrition preferences rather than adding additional sugar-free or alternative sugar sources to your drink.”

Hot Peppermint Mocha

An absolute classic, it’s hard to deny anyone a Peppermint Mocha. If you’re watching your sugar, this is an easy fix. Starbucks Peppermint and Mocha syrups are reputably strong, so instead, order a grande latte with whatever milk you want and ask for one pump of peppermint syrup and one pump of mocha sauce. You can also ask for light whipped cream, if so desired. 

Gingerbread Latte

To enjoy a Gingerbread Latte without a sugar hangover, order it short with almond milk and no whipped cream. Sprinkle in a helping of cinnamon and, if available at some Starbucks, a bit of nutmeg for extra spice. 

If you’re looking for a bite to eat with your holiday sip, here are a few recommendations:

  1. Don’t feel guilty. If you have an itch for a Toffee Nut Mini Loaf Cake, honor your cravings. The seasonally-decorated buttercream sugar cookies actually contain less sugar than a lot of energy bars on the market – compare 14g of sugar in a cookie to 22g in a Clif Chocolate Brownie bar. We’re not recommending you swap cookies with other snacks, but it’s okay to have one once in a while. 
  2. For a high-protein option, try the Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon and Egg White sandwich, which comes in at 17g. Its sodium levels aren’t off the charts crazy and – oh yeah, it’s super yummy.
  3. A sweeter breakfast or lunch choice is the Rolled & Steel-Cut Oatmeal. It’s full of filling fiber and can be customized without brown sugar – which is totally okay since the dried fruit adds more than enough sweetness.