The sweetheart spice of autumn, pumpkin spice steals the show during the crisp months and puts the pizzazz into fall favorites like pumpkin pie and the PSL. It owes it fragrant flavor to a mix of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice.
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"A common benefit that all these spices share is their high antioxidant and polyphenol content," Nicole Chimbetete, MPH, RDN, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "Polyphenols are plant-based micronutrients that help fight disease and inflammation in the body."
- Cinnamon: Common in Ayurvedic medicine and cooking, cinnamon has been linked to decreased cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure, Chimbetete says.
- Nutmeg: This spice contains compounds linked to improved mood, blood sugar control and heart health, Chimbetete says.
- Ginger: Well-studied as an anti-nausea remedy, ginger also helps with inflammation and migraines, Chimbetete says.
- Cloves: Ranked highest in dietary polyphenols, according to a 2010 European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, cloves possess microbial benefits and have been proven to fight various strains of fungi and bacteria. Plus, they offer painkilling effects that are often used to soothe toothaches, Chimbetete says.
- Allspice: Allspice, the dried, unripe berries of the Jamaican pepper, pimenta, has traditionally been used to treat menstrual cramps, upset stomach, muscle aches, sore joints, indigestion, respiratory congestion and toothaches, Chimbetete says.
Is the Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte Healthy?
Launched in 2003, the Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte (or PSL) is one of the most popular pumpkin-flavored treats of the season. There's no denying that the PSL is a cultural phenomenon, but what's actually hiding underneath that picture-perfect foamy drink may surprise you.
A grande Pumpkin Spice Latte (which is 16 ounces) has 390 calories and 50 grams of sugar. That's two times as much sugar as a slice of pumpkin pie.
So, to reap all these potential benefits, don't limit your pumpkin spice seasoning to pies and lattes.
Whether you're looking for a savory stew or decadent dessert, pumpkin spice recipes make all the best flavors of the season come alive.
Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie Recipe
Things You'll Need
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
2 frozen and ripe bananas
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
2 tbsp vanilla protein powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
If you're ready to forego your typical PSL for another morning beverage, make this pumpkin spice smoothie recipe from food blogger Yumna Jawad of Feel Good Foodie. This pumpkin smoothie gives you all that pumpkin spice goodness, but with plenty of nutrients and protein to keep you full.
Toss just a few ingredients you probably already have on hand into the blender and in no time, you can be sipping your way to pumpkin-spice heaven.
- Gather all your ingredients. (You can skip putting them into separate bowls to cut down on dish-washing time.)
- Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender in the order listed. You'll want to add the liquid (almond milk, in this case) first, which helps blend everything together more easily and avoid clumping.
- Blend the ingredients for 2 to 3 minutes, until you get a smooth and creamy texture.
- Taste the smoothie, adding more almond milk if it is too thick or adding a sweetener of choice if it's not sweet enough for you. If you need a bit more sweetness, we recommend a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, or trying a quarter packet of stevia instead.
What makes this pumpkin spice protein shake better than other seasonal treats is, for one thing, it has actual pumpkin in it.
"One cup of canned pumpkin has about 7 grams of fiber, and it's also low in calories," says Vanessa Rissetto, RD, CDN. "This pumpkin spice smoothie is also nutrient-dense, so it can help keep you full while also helping to promote weight loss."
This delicious smoothie also has no added sugar — instead, ripe bananas bring the sweetness in a healthy way.
"A medium-sized banana has only about 105 calories and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs," Rissetto says, noting that a banana also provides 3 grams of fiber and 11 percent of your daily value of immune-supporting vitamin C.
12 Pumpkin Spice Recipes You'll Love
1. Pecan Spiced Buttermilk Pancakes
If you can't imagine breakfast without pumpkin spice, toss together these melt-in-your-mouth pancakes that feature pecans and pumpkin spice.
This recipe calls for the actual spices in your pre-mixed pumpkin spice, so you'll sub in 2 to 3 teaspoons of pumpkin spice when you make it. To lighten this recipe up, use whole-wheat flour, which offers more fiber than regular, all-purpose flour.
Get the Pecan Spiced Buttermilk Pancakes recipe and nutrition info at A Beautiful Plate.
2. Pumpkin Carrot Muffins
The recipe for these delicious pumpkin spice muffins is another one that calls for all the spices individually, so you'll swap in 2 to 3 teaspoons of pumpkin spice to make things a whole lot easier.
These nutritious muffins have the comforting appeal of seasonal veggies like pumpkin and carrots along with raisins, chopped pecans, and warm pumpkin spice. They pair great with a cup of tea or coffee.
This recipe calls for half whole-wheat flour, but you can use whole wheat instead of all-purpose, too. You can even take these up a notch and swap in some maple syrup for the sugar — just remember to use less liquid in your recipe if you do.
Get the Pumpkin Carrot Muffins recipe and nutrition info at A Beautiful Plate.
3. Saucy Braised Root Vegetables
If you think pumpkin spice is solely for sweets, this savory stew will change your mind. Rich in root veggies like parsnips, carrots and onions, this garden stew's earthy base of mushroom broth braises the vegetables to peak, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.
One serving supplies a substantial two cups for only 220 calories and a whopping 7 grams of fiber.
Get the Saucy Braised Root Vegetable Entrée recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes
These pumpkin spice pancakes will satisfy your sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar thanks to a hearty chickpea flour batter that boasts filling fiber. Plus, with 7 grams of satiating protein per serving, these flavorful flapjacks will keep you full for hours.
Top these with a drizzle of maple syrup, a sprinkle of crunchy pecans, and a dollop of Greek yogurt for an extra dose of protein and gut-healthy probiotics.
Get the Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins
This one is for all the chocolate lovers out there who are looking for something a little more fall-friendly and nutritious. Made with dreamy, sweet pump puree and decadent chocolate morsels, these muffins are sure to make their way onto your fall menu every year.
Instead of using just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon as the recipe calls for, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice, which will add so much dimension to these delicious muffins. The coffee glaze on top almost begs for you to pair this with a nice warm cup.
To make these muffins more nutritious, try using whole-wheat flour instead of unbleached all-purpose flour. You may also opt to nix the sugar for maple syrup or honey.
Get the Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins recipe and nutrition info at A Beautiful Plate.
6. Pumpkin Spice Latte Energy Bites
When the midday slump strikes, these pumpkin spice energy bites will give you the extra oomph you need to power through the day (or a tough workout).
Naturally sweetened with dates, these pop-in-your-mouth energy balls contain cacao nibs and espresso powder to give you a slight caffeine boost. Raw walnuts and flecks of coconut flakes offer a touch of texture and a satisfying crunch.
Get the Pumpkin Spice Latte Energy Bites recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Spiced Coffee Cake With Pumpkin Butter Swirl
If you're looking for the ultimate pumpkin dessert, search no further than this pumpkin spice coffee cake. You'll add 2 to 3 teaspoons of your pumpkin spice directly into the cake batter in place of the individual spices. This cake comes together all thanks to decadent pumpkin butter layered in the center.
Not only is this cake delicious, but it's got some nutrition as it's made with whole wheat flour and plain greek yogurt.
Get the Spiced Coffee Cake With Pumpkin Butter Swirl recipe and nutrition info at A Beautiful Plate.
8. Pumpkin Bread
In the fall, forget about banana bread and make this pumpkin bread recipe instead, featuring all your favorite spicy flavors of the season.
The secret ingredient in this pumpkin bread is orange zest, which infuses your home with a heavenly aroma when baked with pumpkin spice seasonings like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. You'll want to make this recipe every season.
Slice and slather some nut butter on it for snack high in protein and healthy fat.
Get the Pumpkin Bread recipe and nutrition info at A Beautiful Plate.
9. Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups
These pumpkin spice peanut butter cups possess all the chocolaty, peanut buttery flavor of the store-bought variety minus the processed junk and added sugar.
And with the addition of pure pumpkin, these bite-sized cups also provide a powerful punch of vitamin A, an antioxidant that protects your eye health and fights free radicals, Chimbetete says.
Get the Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups recipe and nutrition info here.
10. Pumpkin Hummus
Hummus gets a fall makeover with this pumpkin spice spin on the classic chickpea dip. And by adding the good-for-you gourd in three ways — spice, seeds and canned — you get triple the pumpkin flavor (and antioxidants).
Serve with vegetable crudité or whole-grain crackers for extra fiber or simply spoon it from the bowl (we won't judge).
Get the Pumpkin Hummus recipe and nutrition info here.
11. Microwave Pumpkin Spice Muffin
There's no reason to turn on the oven when you can "bake" these fuss-free pumpkin spice muffins in under two minutes in your microwave. With just a pinch of honey for sweetness, these healthier, hearty, homemade muffins are full of protein (11 grams) and fiber (9 grams) and will crush your pumpkin pie cravings.
What's more, these muffins seamlessly sneak in flaxseeds (and omega-3s) for a heap of heart-friendly benefits.
Get the Microwave Pumpkin Spice Muffin recipe and nutrition info here.
12. Pumpkin Sheet Cake With Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
This pumpkin spice cake recipe is one of the more decadent on our list, but it's well worth a try as it features real pumpkin puree, whole wheat flour, and warming pumpkin spice.
This recipe is pretty rich, but for a lighter version, you can cut the frosting recipe in half.
Get the Pumpkin Sheet Cake recipe and nutrition info at A Beautiful Plate.