Maybe you’re normally first in line at the coffee shop the very day that your favorite announces they’re offering pumpkin spice-flavored beverages for the season. Maybe you wait until the weather actually gets chilly before indulging in this fall favorite. Whatever the case, if you need to get your pumpkin spice fix, you don’t have to sacrifice your health goals in order to do so.
Sure, while pumpkin spice coffees, pastries, doughnuts, cereals, cake mixes, and more are all chock-full of artificial flavors, calories, fat, and probably a few ingredients that you can’t recognize or pronounce, pumpkin spice doesn’t always necessarily mean sugar-laden, calorie-loaded and entirely unclean. You can make healthful pumpkin spice treats at home, with minimal effort.
Here are our recommendations.
Making Pumpkin Spice
Achieving the recognizable pumpkin spice flavor is easy. Pumpkin spice blends are the same spice blends that home bakers have been using in their pumpkin pies for decades.
All you need to do is mix cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and your choice of allspice or cloves (or both). Cinnamon will be the base flavor, so plan to mix your spices in ratios of 3:1 cinnamon to ginger and nutmeg. Then, add in allspice and/or cloves at ratios of 6:1 cinnamon to allspice/cloves.
That said, some home cooks prefer more of one of these spices than another, so feel free to play around and combine the ratios that work best for you. You may find that you like more ginger and less cinnamon, or more allspice and cloves and less nutmeg. Here’s our easy homemade pumpkin spice mix.
Healthy Ways to Use Homemade Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
One of the best things to make when you’re just putting together your personalized pumpkin spice blend for the first time? Pumpkin spice oatmeal. You can easily add the above spices to your cooked breakfast oatmeal and then adjust the spice ratios, tasting as you go, until you find the perfect balance.
Pumpkin Spice Granola
Pumpkin spice granola is the perfect snack to take on your next fall foliage hike. Use your favorite granola recipe, but add in a can of pumpkin and your pumpkin spice blend. Use this pumpkin spice granola recipe for inspiration. Its spice blend includes nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, but then swaps out the allspice and cloves for cardamom. It also includes the complementary flavors of maple and cranberry.
Pumpkin Spice Shakes
Give your morning protein shake a seasonal upgrade, with this pumpkin-based shake recipe. It combines pumpkin puree with bananas, milk, protein powder, and maple syrup. Sprinkle a little of your pumpkin spice blend on top and you’ll have a healthful breakfast beverage that’s way better (and better for you) than any blended, frozen coffee beverage you’ll get in the drive-thru.
While pumpkin spice blends might be more associated with sweet foods and beverages, don’t pass up the opportunity to use these spices in savory dishes as well. For example, sprinkle a bit atop roasted, diced pumpkin and then use that pumpkin as-is, as a side dish alongside maple-glazed salmon or chicken, or add it to a fall-flavored salad. Consider combining the roasted pumpkin with your favorite grain, like rice, or quinoa, or even mixing it into your favorite mac ‘n cheese recipe.