You know it’s autumn when you see pumpkin spice-flavored goodies everywhere you look.
(Just reading the phrase “pumpkin spice” summons smells and memories of turning leaves and cable-knit sweaters.)
But for those of us with weight management and healthy eating goals, autumn can be an ordeal.
It’s just too easy to indulge in festive foods filled with fat and sugar – and it seems that is particularly true of anything labeled pumpkin spice. For example, Starbucks fan-favorite Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte (16 oz.) has 390 calories plus 50 grams of sugar.
But buried beneath the flood of baked goods, snack foods, and coffee drinks, the ingredients that make up the flavor of pumpkin spice – nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice – are as healthy as can be.
Nutmeg offers many health benefits, from reducing stomach pain and nausea to stress and insomnia relief. It boasts numerous B vitamins and minerals and contains powerful antioxidants and essential oils. (1)
Ginger is well known for combating nausea by reducing gas and painful cramps, and it has several other healing effects. It can reduce discomfort from menstrual cramps, headaches, and arthritis, plus it helps stimulate circulation. (2)
Cloves are chock full of manganese, which is essential for strong bones and brain function. Cloves have antimicrobial properties, meaning they may help stop the growth of microorganisms like harmful bacteria. (3,4)
Cinnamon contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help protect your body from illness. Cinnamon works as a prebiotic, which promotes healthy gut bacteria and improves gut health. It’s also been found to be helpful for your heart and brain. (5,6)
Allspice can help with stomach issues like indigestion, abdominal pain, and menstrual cramps. It also has a reputation for assisting bowel movements. Allspice contains eugenol, which has antiseptic properties that can kill bacteria on your teeth and gums. (7)
If you love the nostalgic flavor of pumpkin spice, your best approach is indulging at home using your own pumpkin spice blend. This way, your body and mind get the benefits without offsetting them with lots of extra sugar, cream, and calories.
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Recipe
Homemade pumpkin spice only takes a few minutes to prepare with ingredients you may already have in your spice cabinet.
You don’t need added syrups and other sugars to make it delicious.
In fact, it’s an excellent substitute for some sweeteners since it’s a seasoning and not a type of sugar.
Prep time: 5 minutes
·1/4 cup ground cinnamon
·2 tablespoons ground ginger
·4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
·2 teaspoons ground allspice
·2 teaspoons ground cloves
In a bowl, mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Store recipe in an airtight container for up to a year.
Add your homemade pumpkin spice blend to most of your favorite desserts and breakfasts. And yes — create a pumpkin spice latte with a lot less sugar than the coffee shop versions.
Here are a few guilt-free recipes that may satisfy your craving for pumpkin spice.
Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe
This recipe makes six lattes. If making only one latte, brew one cup of coffee and prepare a half cup of milk. Keep remaining pumpkin syrup in a sealed container.
·1/4 cup sugar (optional)
·2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
·1/2 cup pumpkin puree
·2 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend
·1/4 teaspoon salt
·2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·6 cups brewed coffee
·3 cups dairy milk, oat, flaxseed, or almond milk
In a saucepan, combine water, sugars, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice blend, and salt.
Whisk together and simmer for 20 minutes
Add vanilla extract and remove from heat.
Over medium heat, in a separate saucepan, whish milk until foamy (different kinds of milk may not all foam in the same way).
Mix 1 cup of coffee with four tablespoons of pumpkin syrup and 1/3 cup of foamy milk for each latte.
Pumpkin Spice Granola
·2 cups whole grain oats
·1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
·1/4 cup maple syrup
·1/4 cup olive oil
·1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
·1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
·1/2 cup shredded coconut topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine oats, pumpkin seeds, and pecans.
Combine olive oil, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice blend, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl. Whisk until smooth.
Spread the granola mixture evenly over parchment paper and bake for fifteen minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle shredded coconut, and shake to combine.
Return to oven for approximately fifteen additional minutes, until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool before serving. Store the remainder in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Pumpkin Spice Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut squash is a winter squash, harvested between early September and ending in late fall. That’s why you see butternut squash soup pop up in restaurant menus this time of year.
It’s easy to make at home. A quick trick is roasting the entire butternut squash in the oven for about an hour until it gets tender. Let cool, then cut it open, remove the seeds, and scoop out the flesh. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Pumpkin spice and maple syrup add just a touch of sweetness to compliment the roasted butternut. If you like it creamier, stir in cream or extra coconut milk into the soup.
Servings 4 -6
·1 medium butternut squash
·4 cups vegetable broth
·1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend
·1/2 teaspoon sea salt
·2 tablespoons maple syrup
·cream for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash on a baking tray, rub with some olive oil, and bake for an hour or until a knife pokes through the skin easily.
Remove from oven and let cool. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and discard; then scoop out the squash.
Put the flesh of the squash into a blender or food processor.
Add vegetable broth, pumpkin spice mix, salt, and maple syrup. Blend until smooth. Heat in a soup pot. Ladle into serving bowls.