It’s time to tip our hats to pumpkin-spice everything season, but let’s not topple the scales. The comforting blend of seasonings is ubiquitously sprinkled into our favorite beverages, ranging from lattes, tea, kombucha and smoothies; it’s also baked into muffins, donuts and scones. And, some of these contain pumpkin, too, which is good news given there are winning nutritional benefits found inside fall’s hallowed orange orb.
“Real pumpkin is a mood booster, can help your eyesight and may aid in weight loss. This top produce-aisle pick is also low in fat and calories, but high in fiber and protein, and its seeds are loaded with magnesium and iron,” explains Irene Myers-Thompson, regional wellness director, UnitedHealthcare.
It pays to scrutinize your next pumpkin-spice indulgence, however, by scanning the nutritional label and ingredient list, which can be pumped up with sugar, artificial sugars and additives.
Let’s examine the ephemeral latte. “A medium pumpkin spice latte from the corner coffee shop contains 50 grams of sugar and 380 calories, swallowing up about 20 percent of your daily calorie allotment,” explains Myers-Thompson. “The sugary syrup is the culprit, so omit that ingredient and use an alternative sweetener.”
Better yet – make your own! Myers-Thompson’s top DIY tip for a homemade pumpkin spice latte: substitute flavored syrup with a blend of almond milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla, then pour into your freshly brewed cup of coffee.
And, easily create your own guilt-free blend of pumpkin spice by combining two teaspoons each of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and allspice for a handy way to sprinkle as you wish. “Nutritionally, ginger is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory benefits, while cinnamon can help lower blood sugar and reduce the risks of heart disease,” Myers-Thompson explains.
Here’s a great recipe for a wholesome and flavorful smoothie.
Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake
1 cup almond milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon honey
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
1 medium banana
6 ice cubes
Toss ingredients in blender. Pour into to-go glass. Add straw, and sip your way toward a healthful day.
Craving more pumpkin spice? Watch Myers-Thompson share her seasonal tips here.