Pumpkin Spice: Hot or Cold, either way it's healthier than at Four-bucks


As the season changes, I'm drawn to those orange chalked signs that promise steaming mugs of fall, complete with whipped frothiness and steam infused with nutmeg. 

They cost a small fortune. They require leaving home. And really, they're sticky sweet.

We can do better.

My friend Sarah has her hands full these days. She's got three babies under two and they have three siblings. Busy, busy. And sleep deprived beyond imagination. Sarah has sacrificed milk in order to try to conquer her wee ones' tendency towards ear infections. So, she's been drinking Pumpkin Spice Via mixed into coconut milk. She froths it with a handy-dandy dinglehopper. It's quick and tasty. But the mama bear in me says,

"Girlfriend, you are demanding incredible things of your body. You're depriving it of sleep. You're the sole source of nutrition for two babies who have deliciously fat cheeks and thighs. You need to take care of you. So let's make this sweet indulgence a little healthier."

We have two choices here, the hot and the cold.

First the hot:

12 ounces warm coconut or almond millk ( I prefer almond) Homemade almond milk here for people who aren't loving on twin babies right now.

1 teaspoon instant expresso (or just plain old instant coffee)

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup canned pumpkin (or up to half a cup, which is a legitimate vegetable serving)

scraping the seeds of a vanilla bean into this mixture makes it an exceptionally undulgent luxury

sweetener to taste:  here's where you can make a huge difference. I think PSLs at Starbucks are too sweet for my taste. Pumpkin Spice Via has 60 calories--all of them sugar calories, the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of sugar. I drink my version with unsweetened almond milk and just one teaspoon of raw honey. You can play with this to your taste; think maple syrup or molasses or honey or even sugar if it's just too much work to look at alternatives. It's unlikely that you really need 4 teaspoons of sugar, though.

You stir it all to blend and then froth it with a dinglehopper. Alternatively, you can put it all in the blender and give it a whirl. Sprinkle the top with more pumpkin spice.

The cold version:

This is a legitimate breakfast. Real food:-)

12 ounces milk or milk alternative

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice

1 teaspoon (or more) raw honey or maple syrup  (if you like)

1 teaspoon instant coffee or expresso

the seeds of a vanilla bean if you are so inclined


Blend all of the above until it's smooth. Then add a handful of ice and blend again. Pour and sprinkle a little more pumpkin spice on top. 

[Alternatives: You can eliminate the coffee altogether. You can add half a frozen banana. You can freeze brewed coffee into ice cubes and use those instead of water ice and in place of instant coffee.]

So, there you go, a healthy alternative to pricey autumn-in-a-cup.