Fall is my favorite time of year when the air is cooler, the leaves turn different colors and the pumpkin spice buzz is in full swing. Pumpkin spice foods are everywhere including coffee, tea, cocoa, hard seltzer, alcohol, cereal, waffles, ice cream, yogurt, milk, coffee creamers, cookies, nuts, marshmallows, protein drinks, and more. A new one on the shelf this year is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with a pumpkin spice flavor packet to add with the cheese packet. You can even buy pumpkin spice-flavored dog biscuits.
Americans will spend about $300 million on pumpkin-flavored products this year. Pumpkin flavors are a favorite for many people because of the nostalgic memories of pumpkin farms, hayrides and crisp fall days. Pumpkin spice makes you think of wholesome, healthy pumpkin added to foods. However, the majority of these food items contain no pumpkin and just have the spicy flavors that are associated with pumpkin pie.
Starbucks is credited with creating this nationwide obsession with pumpkin spice when it introduced its famous pumpkin spice latte in 2003. This specialty drink remains its top-selling seasonal beverage of all time, selling over 200 million since its launch. You may be surprised to learn that a tall pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks made with whole milk and whipped cream provides 330 calories, 15 grams of fat, 39 grams (over 7 teaspoons) of sugar and 11 grams of protein. Make it healthier and lower in calories by ordering a smaller size, skip the whipped cream, and switch to nonfat milk.
Why not create your own pumpkin spice latte at home? Combine:
- ½ cup milk,
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree,
- 1 cup espresso or strong coffee,
- cinnamon and nutmeg (or pumpkin pie spice),
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract and,
- 3 teaspoons of sugar or other sweeteners.
- Blend together and serve it hot or cold.
What is pumpkin spice? Pumpkin pie spice was a spice blend created by McCormick Spice Company in the 1950s. The purpose was to make it easier for cooks by combining the spices cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice used to make a pumpkin pie into one container. Approximately 95% of pumpkin pie spice is sold between August and November.
Try making your own pumpkin spice blend! Whisk together:
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon,
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger,
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg,
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice and,
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves.
- Tweak the ingredients to find the right combination for you. Store in an airtight container.
This spice blend can be used in many recipes including hot drinks, smoothies, sweet potato casseroles, roasted fall vegetables, soups, loaves of bread, pumpkin pies and other desserts.
You can make your own pumpkin puree by cooking a small sugar pumpkin until tender, and puree the cooked pumpkin in a blender until smooth. Pumpkins are a powerhouse of nutrition providing potassium, vitamin A, fiber, iron and other nutrients to your diet. Add a boost of nutritious flavor by adding pumpkin puree (homemade or canned) when making muffins, pancakes, waffles, soups, loaves of bread, casseroles and more.
Be creative and enjoy the flavor of fall.