Fall is here, and everyone (and their yoga instructor) is talking about one thing: Pumpkin. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pie, pumpkin beauty masks (I am not joking), pumpkin toothpaste (okay, now I’m joking).
As seasonal culinary trends go, pumpkin is one of my favorites, because of its taste and incredible nutritional profile. Cooked pumpkin is a good source of Vitamin E, B6, A, and C. It is full of iron, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. It’s also a terrific source of dietary fiber. I gave a tiny spoonful to one of my rescued cats when he was having some digestive problems, and—without getting too graphic—let’s just say the problem was rapidly solved. (Canned cooked pumpkin is safe for cats and dogs, but obviously check with your vet first, and don’t give them pumpkin pie filling!)
Whole pumpkins are available everywhere, and if you’re a big food-nerd like me, a whole gigantic pumpkin is irresistible. But sometimes I want a little pumpkin in my life, in a low-maintenance way. As a confirmed coffee addict, I am all about pumpkin in my morning cup of “Get Up and Face the World.” I know I’m not the only one. People stand in outrageously long lines at chain coffee shops to get their pumpkin fix, and they pay a ton of money to get it. I’m not into that. I have student loans. I have a car that’s older than most people’s children.
And that delicious pumpkin spice flavoring these chain coffee shops use? Well, take all that lovely pumpkin nutrition, crumple it up, throw it on the ground and set it on fire. A pumpkin spice latte can contain more than 500 calories and over 60 grams of sugar. All those lovely pumpkin vitamins are noticeably absent, because there is no actual pumpkin in that flavor syrup. Plenty of food dyes and preservatives, though. It also contains condensed milk, so it’s not vegan, either.
So, what’s a conscious consumer to do? DIY it, of course! I have an incredibly easy recipe for pumpkin spice coffee that will give you a true taste of fall.
4 cups of brewed coffee
1/2 cup of soy milk (or alt milk of your choice)
2 tablespoons cooked canned pumpkin (make sure it is canned pumpkin, not pie filling)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or agave nectar)
You will need a stove, a pot, a can-opener and a whisk, though you could probably MacGuyver this with a microwave, using a fork to whisk (if you try this, let me know if it is successful).
Anyway, back to the stove: Warm the coffee in the pot, over low heat. Pour in your soymilk. Add the canned pumpkin and whisk. This is the baseline amount of pumpkin, so feel free to add more.
After it is added to the coffee, the pumpkin really needs to be whisked to avoid lumps. Add the spices and sweetener. Stir over low heat until the beverage is warm, and your entire kitchen smells like heaven. It’s not incredibly sweet, so adjust the maple syrup to taste. The recipe is really forgiving, so play with the flavors as much as you want!
These proportions serve 2 coffee drinkers, or one serious caffeine-fiend.