Calorie Count Lesson #1: Get the Croissant

Categories: Coffee, WTF?
Jonathan Kauffman
Trauma moment: calculating how many of these we've eaten in our lifetime.

Standing in front of the pastry case at the local coffee shop, we're prone to make decisions based on certain assumptions about nutrition: Since dried fruit is healthier than doughnuts, we pick the blueberry scone over the apple fritter. Seeing as how bananas trump butter on the USDA pyramid, that slice of banana-nut bread is clearly better for us than a chocolate croissant.

Oho! How wrong we have been.

Today's the first day SFoodie has stepped into a chain store ― Starbucks, to be exact ― since Jan. 1, when the California state law requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts went into effect. We went there, in fact, to confirm a horrified friend's report: "Did you know that a slice of Starbucks' banana-nut bread has 490 calories," he gaped to us after a trip to one branch, "and a chocolate croissant only has 300?"

It's true. Furthermore, a blueberry scone (460 cal.) is worse for you than an apple fritter (420 cal.), and an apple bran muffin (350 cal.) is more densely packed with calories than a three-cheese bagel (310 cal.). It's one thing to know the calorie counts for the full line of Starbucks products are online, and another thing to see them next to the prices. You can slam the nationwide coffee chain all you want, O S.F. food snob, but you know the locally baked goods at your favorite Third Wave cafe aren't much healthier.

From here on out, we're sticking to the French pastries.

Have a calorie count lesson you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

My Voice Nation Help

How useful is the total straight calories? Shouldn't we be concerned about how many of the calories are "from fat" and compare those numbers?


This seems shocking, but I think we've known for awhile that those seemingly harmless items like muffins and scones are chalk full of calories. I agree with Matt that it's about the nutrients you put in your body, less about the actual calorie count, and processed foods of any type just can't be the healthiest option.

All I know is that when I adopted the French way and started beginning every morning with 2 pastries from Knead Patisserie (1 pomme, 1 almond twist), I started losing weight. That's a diet I can definitely stick to.


It's largely irrelevant which one has more calories than which other one. Nutrition is about consuming nutrient-rich foods in appropriate amounts.

The apple bran muffin is almost certainly better for you than the bagel, which has basically zero nutritional value and has a very high glycemic index. Having said that, I'd stay away from everything you mentioned if you're really concerned about your health. It's all processed crap.

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