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Re-inventing the Crowd Favorite: Pumpkin Spice

It’s the time of year when you start to see pumpkin spice products everywhere — and not just at your favorite coffee shop. You can buy pumpkin spice-flavored cookie dough, chocolate, Greek yogurt, English muffins, bagels, and even breakfast cereal. I like seasonal foods as much as the next person, but a lot of these products are loaded with sugar and other not-so-healthy ingredients. How can you get in on the autumnal fun in a healthier way?

Don’t Forget the Pumpkin
If you’re making your own pumpkin spice treats, you can start by making sure they feature some actual pumpkin. Many pumpkin spice products don’t, and that’s not necessarily misleading. “Pumpkin spice,” after all, refers to the spices traditionally found in pumpkin pie: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. But pumpkin is delicious, in season, and healthy, too. A one-cup serving of pumpkin supplies:

  • 245% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A, necessary for healthy vision, immune strength, and the integrity of skin and mucous membranes
  • 19% of the DV for vitamin C, which also aids immune function and is needed for the health of connective tissue
  • 10% of the DV for vitamin E, a third vitamin that supports immune health and is also important for making red blood cells
  • 16% of the DV for potassium, an electrolyte that maintains fluid balance in cells and is critical to a healthy heart
  • 3 grams of fiber, which is necessary for normal digestion, elimination and reduces the risk of heart disease
  • And just 49 calories!

Pumpkins are also chock full of carotenoids. These phyto-nutrient pigments give pumpkin (as well as other yellow and orange-hued foods such as carrots, cantaloupe, red/yellow/orange peppers, yams, and apricots) their distinctive color. I’ve written about carotenoids before, because they have many documented health benefits, including protecting against heart disease , supporting breast health, giving skin a healthy glow, and even reducing the risk of allergies!

Let’s start with the most classic pumpkin recipe: pumpkin pie!  Here’s a sugarless version, sweetened with just a touch of liquid stevia. I think I’d make it with whole milk for a richer flavor.

Pumpkin bread is another classic fall treat. This pumpkin bread recipe features whole wheat flour for extra fiber and nutrients (although you could also sub in a gluten-free flour mixture if you can’t eat wheat like me) and Greek yogurt as well as coconut oil for a moist but not dense texture.

Go a Little Nuts
Do you like nuts? If so, this pumpkin-maple-pecan granola recipe is for you. The pecans and pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) add protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Of course, if we’re talking pumpkin spice, you’re probably thinking coffee, right? Here’s a homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe that uses almond milk instead of cow’s milk!

Are you a pumpkin spice fan? What’s your favorite way to eat or drink it? Got any pumpkin recipes to share?


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