Think your ideas don’t matter to a big company like Starbucks? Think again… This week Starbucks is launching a whole line of new foods all inspired by customer ideas submitted at My Starbucks Idea.
The bottom line. Starbucks customers want good nutrition – as evidenced by the fact their number one selling food is their oatmeal. Starbucks has taken their healthy approach to food to a whole new level!
Starbucks asked me to help spread the word about these changes. After talking with them about what they were up to and why, how could I not participate? (Starbucks paid me for my time to speak with their lead dietitian, Katie Thompson and research so I could write this blog post, but they had zero input into the content.)
Here’s the skinny on the changes:
- No more high fructose corn syrup – this was the #1 change customers requested on My Startbucks Idea
- No more artificial colors or flavors
- New menu item selections, such as vivianno smoothies, salads, and a gluten free toffee pecan bar
- Improvements to ingredients in some of their “favorites” like egg whites in their spinach feta wrap and reduced fat turkey bacon egg sandwich (real eggs, peeps – no substitutes here! I know, it seems odd to tout real eggs in an egg wrap, but it’s true lots of places use egg products)
- All natural turkey in their sandwiches
I picked out a few of my faves, with an explanation of why I like them.
Vivianno Strawberry banana smoothie – 5 simple ingredients: fresh banana, strawberry fruit puree with no added sugar, 2% or skim milk, and Starbucks’ own whey protein powder (they didn’t go with a “vitamin tasting” supplement product, they made their own)!
Vivianno chocolate banana smoothie – has fresh bananas, bittersweet cocoa, 2% or skim milk, and Starbucks protein and fiber powder.
Why I like them: They’re delicious! These drinks are great breakfast choices, especially on hot summer days. D.C. can get to be 80-100 degrees and humid. It’s hard to feel hungry in the morning when it is that hot out. Most people skip breakfast and that’s a missed opportunity to nourish yourself and it could leave you Jonesing for junk food from the vending machine. These smoothies contain the same ingredients and the right portion (16 ounces – grande) I would recommend to my clients if they were going to make it on their own at home and now there’s an option for a healthy smoothie with nothing artificial for busy, on-the-go people. Grab your iced coffee and a smoothie and you’re on your way to being well-hydrated on these brutally hot days. Nutritionally, they have about 300 calories, healthy carbohydrates for quick energy and protein for sustained energy. They’ll also help you get fiber, vitamins and minerals. If you want all the details, I provided the nutrition info below. For the active athletes out there, especially endurance marathons, triathlons, and the like… these smoothies are ideal recovery drinks post-workout with the target combo of about 4:1 carbs to protein ratio.
Classic salad – chef salad with egg, cucumbers, and a little monteray jack cheese, on romaine with a healthy balsamic viniagrette dressing for 250 calories with dressing!
Why I like it: Everyone is “going green” these days, but that doesn’t always include getting enough veggies. This salad is a great way to meet your veggie quota, especially if you ran out of veggies or just didn’t have time to put together a salad. Make it a meal by wrapping up half the salad in a whole wheat tortilla (from the grocery store) and eat the rest of the greens as a side salad. You can also add a fat free Greek yogurt or cottage cheese on the side to round out your healthy and cool summer lunch.
As a dietitian, I have to say that I’m impressed with these changes. They really bumped up the nutrition quality. I was impressed with the flavors and product quality of their improved baked items. The cranberry orange muffin and banana bread (with 30% fresh banana) were my faves. I don’t always go for the baked goods, but as a sometimes food these offerings pass the test. They have good nutrition for the calories. I appreciate Starbucks commitment to nutrition by working on the ingredients and keeping the portion sizes realistic. Most of their menu items are 500 calories or less.
When doing some research for this, I stumbled upon some interesting tid-bits from the Starbucks press release that shows how their changes have impacted the health of their customers, including:
- Saving customers 7 billion calories per year, equaling nearly 5 million pounds of fat by using 2% over whole milk as the standard in all beverages and setting nutrition “guardrails” for new products to be less than 500 calories
- Removing artificial trans fat in all food and beverages in North America
- Expanding the food and beverage portfolio to include a variety of options, including Fruit Cups, Yogurt Parfaits, Skinny Lattes, Vivanno