But first, Coffee… Iced Edition

It’s been a busy summer with lots of #patiotimes and fun in the sun!  If you follow me on social media, you know that I have had plenty o’ coffee to fuel all my adventures.  Here’s a few of my favorite places to grab an iced caffeinated bevvy around Chicago.

Star Lounge

This place serves up Dark Matter Coffee, which is hands down probably one of the best roasters in the city.  There are two other locations and a few spots like the West Town Bakery where you can get a taste of their delicious Chocolate City Cold Brew on tap.

Eats and Sweets

This is a fantastic little neighborhood spot serving up Two Brothers Maelstrom Cold Brew on tap.  This iced coffee with a splash of cream makes for a decadent treat anytime you pop in!  Tastes just as good without cream, I’m just a milk whore with my coffee;)

Saigon Sisters

Delicious Vietnamese sandwiches, baos, and more, so what more could you ask for?  A delicious, creamy, sweet and slightly bitter drink with a caffeine boost to counteract the food coma you’re in from the amazing food!? Grab an iced Vietnamese coffee with your meal or to go, and you won’t be disappointed.  Saigon Sisters has three locations you can check out.


Beatrix offers you a healthy bulletproof hot coffee option, but they’ve got the RD of iced coffees… La Colombe’s Nitro is like drinking a beer for breakfast but with a boost of caffeine and no hangover by lunch.  Check out the nitro by Colombe at one of Beatrix’s two locations or one of the La Colombe locations where they also have a latte on tap!

Asado Coffee Roasters

Asado is such an underrated coffee roaster in the city compared to the many that have popped up.  I think they make one of the BEST iced lattes I have ever had.  They don’t offer any specialty flavor syrups, just cane sugar if you want to add some sweetness to your coffee.  How could you though when you drink an iced latte that tastes this smooth?  It’s hard to make espresso blend well when iced, because of the nature of it’s bitterness being masked when hot, but this is delish! Check out one of their two locations.

Iced Military Latte from Sawada Coffee

 Admittedly this drink is pretty darn instagrammable when it’s hot, but what tastes great hot is also delish when cold.  And, let’s talk about this latte that has literally been brought to the next level of amazingness.  Green Tea latte PLUS espresso!?  Sign me up for that extra boost any day!  Oh and if it’s 5 o’clock somewhere in your world, feel free to indulge in some of their boozy options like their Sawada Style Cold Brew, which is their iced coffee with shochu, because why not?!

Iced Nutella Mocha from Dollop

An iced Mocha is delicious, but an iced NUTELLA mocha is da bomb!  Dollop has been expanding through out Chicago like crazy, because their delightful coffees and teas have been satisfying us for years up in uptown.  It’s great to see more options to hit them up at one of their nine locations.

Iced Coffee your way from Julius Meinl

Sometimes you just want to sit down to coffee like royalty.  You’ll get table service and the royal treatment at Julius Meinl.  Not only do they have a delightful spread of pastries and brekky items, but their lattes and coffees always hit the spot for me.  An austrian brand giving you a unique experience in Chicago.  For a relaxed pick me up, hit up one their spots around the city.
What’s your favorite iced bevvy?  Where do you like to go to refuel on a hot day!?  Let me know by commenting below, because I could always use more coffee in my life!  #ButFirstCoffee
M - Signature - Meghan Phillipp - North and Red

Starbucks Holiday Drinks: Decoded

If you’re like most people, your official healthy eating plan won’t be in affect till January.  With all the tempting holiday treats, I thought it’d be helpful to share some ordering tips for when you’re craving more than a dark roast coffee at Starbucks.

1. Size Matters.

From the right: sample, short (8 oz), tall (12 oz), grande (16 oz), venti (20 oz).

Starbucks employees are always happy to help you translate the size of your drink.  When picking a size, I’m going to suggest thinking about how to order in ounces.  If you were to have a can of soda, you’d have a 12 oz can, which translates to a tall in Starbucks lingo.  I’m sure you’re thinking, but I want more caffeine which is why I order a larger size.  Depending on the size you order, there may not actually be more caffeine. Here’s the breakdown of how much coffee is actually in your latte.

How many shots of espresso are in your latte?

Size Espress Shots
Short: 8 oz. 1
Tall: 12 oz. 1
Grande: 16 oz. 2
Venti: 20 oz. 2
*Iced Venti: 24 oz. 3

Please note: Iced Venti drinks have more shots, because the cup is larger, and ice dilutes the drink.

When you order a Venti Gingerbread Latte (GBL) with 2%, it’s 400 calories.  If you order the same drink as a Grande it’s 330 calories, which means you’re saving 70 calories but still getting the same amount of caffeine/coffee from two shots of espresso.

If you’re in need of a coffee boost, try ordering an extra shot of espresso, which adds more caffeine and coffee flavor to your drink without the added milk and sugar calories.  Try a triple grande (adds one shot to a grande size) or double tall (adds one shot to a tall size) and see if it gives you the boost you need!

2. Customize with milk.

photo cred: link

Did you know that the default at Starbucks is to make your drink with 2%?  If you prefer dairy, try nonfat instead of 2%.  A Grande Chestnut Praline Latte (CPL) made with 2% milk is 330 calories, but if you swap your milk for nonfat you save 50 calories. They offer soy and coconut milk as non dairy options, but if you’re looking for the lower cal version, go with coconut.  It’ll save you 40 calories in a Grande CPL if you go with coconut milk over soy.

In the end, milk is a preference and you should choose based on taste, nutrition, and dietary needs.  Besides, all the good stuff can be had in moderation.  So maybe you have nonfat or coconut milk holiday latte Monday-Friday, but on the weekends you order yourself that whole milk latte you crave.

3. With whip or no whip? That is the question.

photo cred: link

Whip cream comes automatically on most holiday beverages, which means an additional 80 calories is added to your drink no matter what size or milk you choose.

If you can’t live with out it, tell your barista to go easy on the whip (cuts it down to approx. 40-50 calories per serving) or just eliminate the whip (saving you 80-100 calories per serving). This is especially true if you order a holiday latte drink every day.  Save your whipped cream topped days for Mondays as a reward for getting to work on time, or as a treat for getting through the week on Fridays.

If you think about those added calories on a daily basis for 5 days, that’s an additional 400 calories for the week.  Those are calories you want to save for the inevitable holiday drinks you’ll have at the office happy hour!

4. Choose your holiday flavor!

Peppermint Mocha (PM)
What a treat! It’s like a Peppermint Patty in a cup!  But, how about all that sugar?  Most of the time, you’re drinking a Starbucks drink in the morning or as a pick me up in the afternoon, so you don’t want to crash the same way you would after a candy bar, right?  The peppermint mocha recipe is different than other drinks at Starbucks, because it’s made with two different flavor syrups–peppermint syrup and mocha syrup. In a tall peppermint mocha there’s 3 pumps of peppermint AND 3 pumps of mocha.  In other tall drinks there’s only 3 pumps of one flavor syrup.  Here’s my suggested amounts for reducing your sugar intake if you choose to order a PM (or WPM–Pepperimint White Mocha).  This way you can enjoy the flavor without as much guilt or the inevitable crash from all the sugar.

Size Starbucks  Measurements for the Peppermint Mocha Recipe My suggestion to have less sugar and calories
Short 2 Pumps Peppermint,
2 Pumps Mocha
1 Pump Peppermint,
1 Pump Mocha
Tall 3 Pumps Peppermint,
3 Pumps Mocha

2 Pumps Peppermint,
1 Pump Mocha

Grande 4 Pumps Peppermint,
4 Pumps Mocha
2 Pumps Peppermint,
2 Pumps Mocha
Venti 5 Pumps Peppermint,
5 Pumps Mocha
2 Pumps Peppermint,
2 Pumps Mocha

Please note: You can always reduce or add pumps to change it up.  ie: more pumps of peppermint if you like it more minty or less pumps of mocha to save more calories. 


Caramel Brulée Latte (CBL)
Inspired by creme brulée, Starbucks has managed to create a drink to taste much like the french dessert. The CBL is made with a sauce and not a syrup, making it a bit more rich in flavor and ultimately more sugar too.  So to curve the calorie intake, but get the flavor, try ordering it with only one or two pumps.  Consider skipping the whip cream or going easy on this one, because it’s already sweet.


Chestnut Praline Latte (CPL)
This nutty, roasty, toasty drink is in it’s second year on the roster of holiday faves at Starbucks.  What’s great about the CPL is that it’s one of the most low cal holiday drinks you can order, because it’s made with a syrup–Starbucks Chestnut Praline syrup. There’s still a good amount sugar in this drink with approximately 12 grams per pump. A Tall CPL has 3 pumps, but if you request only 1 pump you save calories and eliminate 26 grams of sugar.  There’s less sugar, less calories, but you can still enjoy the nutty holiday flavor!


Here’s a few more recipe combinations for healthier-ish holiday beverages! 


Ginger Bread Latte (GBL) Try it iced!  Perfect for when global warming kicks in for a few days!  This version is approximately 140 calories and vegan (made with soy milk)!  I like using soy as a base for iced drinks, because the soy milk Starbucks uses is vanilla flavored, so it’s already naturally sweet and you don’t need a lot of added sugar.

Iced Grande 1 pump Gingerbread Soy No Whip GBL

Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) 
Pumpkin is not just for fall, but a holiday drink for Thanksgiving and all season long! For an afternoon indulgence try a short (8 oz.) PSL for approximately 180 calories and indulge in that whip cream while you’re at it:)

Hot Short 1 Pump Pumpkin Spice 2% Milk W/ Whip PSL

Peppermint White Hot Chocolate (PWHC) 
You can order decaf for any latte drinks, but any of Starbucks mochas and white mochas can be coffee free and made as a hot chocolate.  If you’ve got a real sweet tooth, but want to curve your sugar intake try this lighter version of the Peppermint White Hot Chocolate with approximately 170 calories. 

Hot Tall 1 Pump White Mocha, 
1 Pump Peppermint,
No Vanilla
Nonfat No Whip PWHC

Note: Have your barista prepare your White Hot Chocolate drinks with no vanilla, because the White Mocha sauce used is much sweeter than the regular mocha sauce when ordering Starbucks traditional Hot Chocolate.

Egg Nog Latte (ENL) 
I’m not going to sugar coat anything about the ENL, it’s probably the worst thing you could possibly have as far as calories and fat in a drink at Starbucks.  However, as all drinks and eats this holiday season go… everything in moderation.

If you order a Grande ENL (default is with 2%) it’ll set you back 470 calories.  That’s practically a meal!  Let’s get real with your craving for egg nog by satisfying your thirst with a short nonfat version for 230 calories.  That’s a little more than half the calories and fat.  Takes you down from 20 grams of fat to 9 grams, while packing in 8 grams of protein!

Hot Short N/A Nonfat N/A ENL

Christmas Blend Brewed Coffee (BC)
Are you feeling overwhelmed by all this latte talk?  Are you just a coffee kinda gal or guy?  Feeling a bit bored with your Christmas Blend coffee?   Maybe adding a couple of pumps of gingerbread instead of your usual white sugar could give your holiday coffee a little pizazz!  Let’s go for it with a Venti coffee, add 2 pumps of gingerbread and a little half and half and you’re still gettin’ out of there under 100 calories and big holiday flavors!

Hot Venti 2 pumps Gingerbread 1 Ounce of Half & Half Xmas Blend BC

Joy Tea
If you’re not into any concoctions and just want to get straight to the good stuff, Joy Tea is one of my favorite limited edition teas from Starbucks.  This tea is blended with Black tea, jasmine green tea and oolong tea for a festive blend that is bold enough to stand on it’s own with no milk or sugar.  Although adding a little honey for those days you’re feeling a little under the weather is always a great idea!  Joy Tea calorie count without honey is 5 and with honey it’s 90.

Hot Grande N/A N/A 2 packets of honey Joy Tea

There’s so many versions of holiday drinks from Starbucks, I could go on for days.  If you need help or want to chat more about what to order at Starbucks, feel free to comment or drop me a line at NorthandRed@gmail.com. I like to think of myself as the Holiday Barista Whisperer!  Cheers!


Photos were all courtesy of Starbucks.com unless otherwise noted.

Please note: I am not a certified dietitian, I recommend consulting your doctor for any additional questions about any dietary restrictions you may have.  Sources I used to figure out calories, sugars and other nutritional information are:
Calorie Counter
My Fitness Pal
Spark People 

As a reminder, all opinions expressed in this post are my own and no content was sponsored.  I just LOVE Starbucks Holiday drinks and wanted to share! 

Baker & Nosh

There’s some amazing culinary delights happening in uptown and one of those just happens to be about a ten minute walk from my house.  Baker and Nosh has been in uptown since 2012 and was originally located at the corner of Wilson and Beacon, but since has settled just a few doors down at the corner of Wilson and Malden.


Bill Millholland, founded the concept after years of being in the culinary world and realizing his love for baking.  And, freshly baked awesomeness is exactly what you get when you come here my friends!  In fact the first few times I went, they were always sold out of their breakfast sandwiches.  Granted, I am a late riser on the weekends, so it’s entirely my own fault for missing out on the simple goodness of their GIGANTIC egg sandwiches.

B&N Breakfast Sandwich of the Day: Scrambled eggs, ham, and swiss cheese.

“All of our breads and pastries will be made by hand daily. ‘If it’s for sale today, it was made today’ is our motto.” – Bill Millholland, Baker & Nosh

You really can tell how fresh the food is, because they sell a limited number of items till they run out that day, that are ever changing and it’s always a delight to see what’s new!

I really love that they serve La Colombe coffee which is a legit choice for good espresso and drip coffees.  They have great outdoor patio seating, and have homemade dog treats for your pup that are complimentary!  It’s got a great cafe vibe, but at the end of the day this place remains true to what it is, which is a bake shop first and foremost.

So, you’ll have to excuse me now… I’m going to go dream about their cranberry scone or better yet, get one before they sell out!

B&N Cranberry Scone

I write about places to go in Chicago for Spotted by Locals.  I took over the instagram for #weekendbylocals and you can check out my #coffeetalk moment at Baker and Nosh here!

Baker & Nosh is located at 1303 W. Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640


First Slice Pie Cafe + Lill Street Art Center

With Thanksgiving and the holidays just around the corner, I thought it only appropriate to share one of my favorite cafes that also serves up some delish pies!


First Slice Pie Café is located in the heart of the Ravenswood community in the same building as the the Lillstreet Art Center. Being located at the art center makes it a truly a communal hang out for the neighborhood. You’ll find artists grabbing coffees and treats before going to their classes or working in the studio, or people like me who stop in for a coffee and lunch.  While you’re waiting for your delicious latte or sandwich, you can peruse the gallery shop where they feature local artists’ ceramics, jewelry and other items for sale.

First Slice - 3.19.2014

There are actually three locations, where you can access their full menu of pies and eats. I love their 70s salads, especially the curry chicken salad.  I know pies are what they are known for, but I’m also a big fan of their baked goods.  I’m a sucker for their flourless peanut butter cookie or kitchen sink cookie.   And you can forget the guilt on any treats you pick up here, because First Slice is all about giving back to the community and actually supports feeding the needy.

Chicken Curry Salad – to go!

This post would not be complete without mentioning the sweetest part… the pie. Baked fresh daily, they offer a wide variety of sweet and savory pies from their infamous coffee toffee to Michigan sour cherry.  You can grab a slice and eat there, take it to go or order a pie ahead for your Thanksgiving or holiday parties!  I’m with the crowds and I dig the coffee toffee, because it’s like grown up french silk with the slight bitterness from the coffee that comes through.  I’m not a huge fruit pie person, but their apple made me a changed person.  Just do it, whether it’s their traditional or the streusel version depending on the availability it’s a delight!


Check out one of their three locations for breakfast, lunch, dinner and those in between hours when you’re hankering for a treat!

First Slice Cafe at Lill Street: 4401 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago
First Slice Cafe at Ravenswood Manor: 4664 N Manor, Chicago
First Slice Cafe in Andersonville: 5357 N Ashland Ave, Chicago

If you’re in the market for a hostess gift or holiday gift idea they have lots of great stuff at the Lill Street gallery shop and also offer some cool holiday classes including how to make ornaments!  Check out their holiday open house coming up on December 14, 2015 here!

You can also find another article about First Slice written by me and more Chicago finds at Spotted by Locals: Chicago Edition.