Lunch Break: Healthy Snacks From Washington Chains

What to eat (and avoid) at Starbucks, Pret a Manger, and other grab-and-go spots.
Lunch Break: Healthy Snacks From Washington Chains
Salted almonds from Starbucks will give you a hit of protein in a portion-controlled serving. Image via Shutterstock.

It’s 3:32 in the afternoon and you’re starving. Dinner is still a few hours away, and that bag of all-natural trail mix you meant to bring to work is sitting on the kitchen counter at home. Before you give up and reach for a sugar-laden baked good from your favorite coffee chain, try one of these healthier grab-and-go options that will keep you satisfied and help you avoid another energy crash.

Starbucks

While a slice of the iced lemon pound cake may sound light and airy, its 470 calories and 47 grams of sugar say otherwise. Avoid the pastry case and go for a pack of salted almonds instead; the nuts are packed with monounsaturated fats, which are great for your cardiovascular system, and protein to calm your growling stomach.

Corner Bakery

The “nuts equal healthy” rule doesn’t carry over here, however, where the 690-calorie maple pecan bar offers a whopping 37 grams of fat and 51 grams of sugar. Try the seasonal fruit medley and a pack of bakery chips, which contain a much more reasonable 8 grams of fat.

Pret a Manger

The “hearty grains” muffin may sound healthy, but with 470 calories and 26 grams of fat, it’s a frightening false advertisement. Swap the muffin for mixed fruit for an all-natural sugar kick, paired with Pret’s organic popcorn for something that’s truly whole-grain.

Potbelly

If you’re in the mood to sip your snack, don’t attempt to down one of Potbelly’s milkshakes. The mocha shake packs a mind-boggling 802 calories and 100 percent of your daily recommended value of saturated fat. Instead, go for the mixed-berry smoothie, which at 464 calories isn’t ideal but at least has a third of the fat and many more antioxidants than its coffee-flavored counterpart.

Cosi

While you don’t really have to ask whether Cosi’s Mississippi mud pie is good for you, you’d be surprised to know how much sugar also sneaks its way into the “healthy” yogurt parfaits. The Greek yogurt clocks in at 24 grams, while the strawberry fresh fruit parfait has nearly double that. Ditch the dairy and try a bag of carrots, a fruit cup, or even a turkey sandwich off the kids’ menu.

Au Bon Pain

Pecans are going to give us a complex: ABP’s 740-calorie pecan roll contains 43 grams of fat. Instead, go for hardboiled eggs, which have 13 grams of protein to give you that last-leg-of-the-day power boost you need. Or if your sweet tooth will not be denied, try the 230-calorie pack of chocolate covered almonds.

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Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.