Pumpkin Spice Ideas To Fuel Your Fall Festivities
Posted by Anna Leer - November 23, 2016
As the leaves are turning and the temperature starts to slowly dip into that delicious, fall, “sweatshirt weather” range, all thoughts inevitably turn to the delicacy that is “pumpkin spice.” While this flavor combination is commonly associated with the beloved basic girls in all of our lives, let’s just admit that pumpkin spice is completely delicious, regardless of whether you wear Uggs and leggings to yoga class or not. Unfortunately, cooler weather and the promise of oversized sweaters often cause us to eschew the steadfast self-discipline of warmer, bathing suit-clad months. And it is often the insanely desirable draw of pumpkin spice that preys on this brief — so very brief — lapse in our otherwise irreproachable dietary habits. How could it not? Pumpkins! Spices! Changing leaves! Come on!
Although we wait all year for our favorite pumpkin spice latte to return — and it’s only for a limited time so we need to get it while we can (right?) — any of the pumpkin spice products available in stores contain tons of processed ingredients, colored dyes, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and very little, if any, actual pumpkin. These ingredients have been shown to cause a slew of health related problems, such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, various cancers, heightened allergen sensitivity, and more. The saddest part of this whole scenario, of course, is that pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins and minerals, yet low in calories. Pumpkin has loads of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, protect against heart disease, support eye health, and increase youthfulness of skin. Pumpkin also contains healthy doses of potassium and magnesium, electrolytes that are invaluable for hydration and peak muscle function. Potassium has also been linked to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke. Finally, and most seasonally appropriate, pumpkin’s combination of beta-carotene and vitamin C make it a strong immune booster, heading into cold and flu season1. Not to mention that the actual spices used in pumpkin spice can also deliver several nutritional benefits, from the anti-inflammatory properties of fresh cinnamon and cloves, to the digestion aiding properties of fresh nutmeg and ginger, to name a few. Clearly, one can quickly recognize what a travesty it is to substitute synthetic ingredients for the real ones in this tasty flavor combination.
Luckily, all is not lost! Pumpkin spice can be made healthfully and easily at home, likely saving you time and money you would have spent at the local coffee shop or bakery. This simple, organic pumpkin spice base can be used to flavor coffee, make healthy pumpkin spice pancakes and cookies, etc. The list goes on because the base is so versatile.
When shopping for ingredients, organic canned pumpkin puree is a great time saver because all of the peeling, de-seeding, roasting, and pureeing is done for you, while the product quality remains very high. Always make sure the only ingredient listed on the can is Organic Pumpkin Puree. Many times the pumpkin puree and the pumpkin pie mix are located in the same aisle, and often on the same shelf in the grocery store, and these two products are not the same. Be sure to verify the ingredients. And because it’s a canned product, buying organic is a must. Any chemicals used on the produce inevitably make their way into the flavor of the product, which combines with the tinny taste of the can to create an undesirable flavor.
For the spices, fresh is always best, if possible. If this is not something that is realistic for your lifestyle, focus on fresh nutmeg and fresh ginger. These are the two spices that have the greatest nutritional benefit when fresh vs. dried, and they also have the greatest flavor difference. (Both are incredibly cheap, too!) Fresh nutmeg can be stored in a sealed, plastic bag and kept in the pantry for years, to be ground on a microplane when needed. Fresh ginger can be peeled with the edge of a spoon and stored in a sealed, plastic bag in the freezer for up to six months, grating it on a microplane when needed.
These recipes are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to incorporating nutritious pumpkin spice into your fall culinary repertoire! Try these out and notice how much better you look and feel!
Pumpkin Spice Base
1 c. canned organic pumpkin puree
1/3 c. pure maple syrup—no pancake syrup here, only the real deal
2 tsp. fresh ground cinnamon
½ tsp. fresh ground ginger
½ tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. fresh ground cloves
¼ tsp. sea salt
Combine all ingredients until thoroughly incorporated and store in airtight container for up to two weeks.
Pumpkin Spice Creamer
Combine 2 Tbsp. of Pumpkin Spice Base with 1 ½ c. unsweetened nut milk in a blender and puree on high for 20-30 seconds. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium saucepan and heat over medium until liquid is simmering, but not boiling, about 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Use immediately in a mug of fresh brewed coffee, or store in an airtight container for up to a week. Also great in fresh brewed, black chai tea!
Gluten-free Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
¼ c. Pumpkin Spice Base
¼ c. Grass Fed, Organic, Whole Milk Yogurt
1 c. unsweetened nut milk
1 organic, cage-free egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 c. ground millet flour
1/3 c. organic ground spelt flour
1/3 c. super finely ground almond flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
Combine Pumpkin Spice Base, yogurt, nut milk, egg, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well incorporated. Let sit for 5-10 minutes for the batter to rest. (This makes fluffier, more flavorful pancakes!) Heat a large, cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium and spray with nonstick spray. Using a ¼ c. measure or a ladle, place batter evenly on cooking surface (this batter is best with smaller pancakes) and let cook 3-4 minutes on each side, or until bubbles rise to the surface. Flip pancakes and finish cooking another 1-2 minutes. Serve with fresh almond butter and warm maple syrup. Makes 12-15, 3-inch pancakes.
Healthy Pumpkin Spice Cookies
¾ c. Pumpkin Spice Base
¼ c. organic coconut sugar
½ c. natural almond butter
2 organic, cage-free eggs
1 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 c. good quality dark chocolate chips (Lily’s Stevia Sweetened are my favorite!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium mixing bowl combine Pumpkin Spice Base, almond butter, coconut sugar, and eggs. Whisk until well incorporated. Mix in oats, baking powder, and salt until a batter begins to form. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon cookie mixture onto sprayed cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Let cool 5-10 minutes before enjoying. Makes 6-8 cookies.
1 Ware, Megan, RDN, LD. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279610.php.
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