Product Review: Starbucks Vivanno Chocolate Banana

The people from Starbucks asked me a few weeks ago if I'd be willing to try and review their new Vivanno energy drink. It was a tough decision for me, as I'm not a Starbucks customer. I try to drink fair trade coffee when I can, and patronize local places, and when I do go for a chain it's usually not Starbucks because it just tastes too acidic and bitter and just over-roasted to me. My kids love the hot chocolate, so I do go with them in the winter, but if left to my own devices I wouldn't go to Starbucks.

I am a fan of the whole smoothie genre, though, and know that Starbucks is a wonderfully ubiquitous option for so many of us when we're already in a hurry, so I thought I'd try a Vivanno. There are two varieties, the mango banana, and the chocolate banana. Of course I chose the chocolate.

The ingredients are surprisingly low-tech: chocolate, whey protein powder, fiber powder, a banana, and milk. The taste was good, although I don't love the sort of flat taste whey protein powder has. And I realized I was also missing some greens! I've gotten so used to just shoving a handfull of raw baby spinach into every smoothie I make now that I've completely gotten used to the brightness it adds.

The real issue is that if you can't consume dairy, then this is absolutely not the product for you. But for people who can eat dairy, pass by Starbucks when they need something without a lot of nasty ingredients, or want a coffee in one hand and breakfast in the other, this works. (And is better for you than a Jamba Juice is, for sure.)

I make a better smoothie in my own kitchen. If you'd like to know how I'd do a chocolate banana smoothie with protein, here it is:

  • banana
  • handful of almonds (if you can eat nuts)
  • big handful of raw baby spinach
  • some Dutch process cocoa powder
  • some greens powder (skip if you're squeamish)
  • ice
  • liquid of your choice (milk, soy milk, rice milk, water, dark rum)

Blend until smooth. (You can put the first 5 things in the blender the night before and just leave the blender jar in the refrigerator overnight, then pop in the ice and liquid in the morning. To clean the blender, just rinse it around with warm water--you probably don't need to take it apart.)

If you don't have the time/energy/blender to do your own morning smoothies, though, check out the Vivanno and see if it fits your needs.

Any other mass-market breakfast options that are reasonably healthy?