Pumpkin spice season—formerly known as autumn—is upon us, which means that you might be adding about 400 calories to your daily routine by indulging in one of the most iconic seasonal beverages on coffee house menus: The pumpkin spice latte (aka #PSL). There is something about pumpkin spice that people cannot seem to get enough of, which is why you’ll see pumpkin spice seasoning in almost everything on grocery store shelves – from coffee, to cookies, to popcorn. Let’s take a closer look at why this particular blend of spices is so outrageously popular as well as some healthier alternatives to help you satisfy your seasonal craving.
Why we love PSLs
A pumpkin spice latte could be accurately described as the taste of fall in a cup, which is part of the reason people love this drink so much. It stirs up feelings of nostalgia by eliciting the aromas of the Thanksgiving table, inspiring thoughts of all the lovely attributes of autumn. Each spice that contributes to the beloved flavor—cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove—is a powerhouse of flavor; combined with loads of sugar, fat, and a touch of salt, it’s hard not to love this calorie-dense drink. A dose of caffeine also doesn’t hurt, since this stimulant is something that many of us wouldn’t want to go a day without.
How to get your fix elsewhere
While the conventional pumpkin spice latte is the perfect storm of indulgent ingredients, it is not the only way to squash your craving for fall flavors. Simply swapping out whole milk for skim or opting for a sugar free version can cut the calories in the cup in half. For added nutrition, you might make your own latte at home with one ingredient surprisingly absent in the coffee shop version: Real pumpkin. With plenty of fiber, protein, vitamins A and C, and iron, pumpkin is a nutrient dense fruit that can add wholesomeness to your favorite beverage. You might also try experimenting with the classic spices of pumpkin treats in savory applications, such as pumpkin curry or pureed pumpkin soup, which will offer more of the solid nutrition of pumpkin without the addition of sugar.
Looking for more ways to enjoy your seasonal favorites without over-indulging? You can read more about the health benefits of pumpkins and winter squash on the MeMD blog.