Fall is just around the corner, but September first marks the beginning of pumpkin spice season for most Americans. There are the usual suspects of lattes, candles, and lotions - but these days, the list continues to expand, including things like M&Ms, chips, even pumpkin spice flavored sausage! Starbucks' signature latte was first introduced in 2003. It very quickly became their most popular seasonal beverage, and exploded into the modern craze that exists today, but pumpkin spice has been around for a lot longer than the last fifteen years.
I'm sure it's not shocking to learn that while pumpkin spice may taste like a delicious homemade pumpkin pie, most products on the market have no pumpkin in them. Instead, they contain the spices that are traditionally associated with pumpkin recipes. Lets take a look at the healing properties of these spices, and then try a latte recipe that isn't so full of unhealthy calories and sugar!
Pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse. Pumpkins are chock full of antioxidants, beta carotene, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Zinc and essential fatty acids. The nutrients contained in pumpkins have been proven to fight cancer, diabetes, heart disease, as well as generally boosting the immune system (which is great during the fall and winter months).
Did you know that cinnamon is one of the healthiest spices you can find? Cinnamon has properties that can help lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease, decrease inflammation and fight bacteria, among other impressive health benefits. Make sure to get Ceylon cinnamon instead of the more common cassia cinnamon that is found on most store shelves.
Used to spice many winter dishes from eggnog to cakes and pies, Nutmeg is a spice most well known for it's anti-anxiety properties. Nutmeg also contains antioxidants, Vitamin C and some B vitamins. Use nutmeg liberally as a spice, but it is not recommended for use as a dietary supplement, because high doses can cause hallucinations and toxicity.
Ginger is well known for its properties as a digestive aid. Ginger may help stomach problems from nausea and diarrhea to morning sickness and heartburn. Ginger is also a circulatory stimulating herb, which can help warm your body in the cooler fall and winter weather.
Clove is such an all-around helpful herb! Clove is used traditionally for everything from digestive issues to insomnia. Along with it's high antioxidant content, clove is also well known for it's antibacterial and antiparisitic properties.
A Healthier Pumpkin Spice Latte
- 2 cups almond or cashew milk
- 2 tbsp pumpkin (canned or fresh)
- 2 tbsp xylitol (or other natural sweetener to taste)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup strong, hot coffee or tea
- Optional garnish:
- Whipped Cream
- Nutmeg or Pumpkin Spice
- In a small saucepan, combine nut milk, pumpkin and sweetener. Cook and stir over medium heat until steaming. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Pour into blender with coffee; cover and blend until foamy.
- Pour into 2 mugs and enjoy immediately. Optional: garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg or pumpkin spice.