The season of pumpkin spice and everything nice is upon us. While it might be fun for the taste buds and your Instagram feed, it might not be doing your health or performance any favors.
Pumpkin is an inherently extremely healthy food. One cup of the orange squash contains only 30 calories packed with potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C and magnesium. There's no denying it is a smart add to your diet. There is also nothing unhealthy about the combination of spices that go into the pumpkin spice blend.
Unfortunately, these nutrients get diluted or completely lost in the season's pumpkin spice excitement as the foods most often featuring these flavors are typically lattes, donuts, ice cream and breads that use very little, if any, actual pumpkin. These tempting treats are loaded with fats, sugar and calories but very little vitamins and minerals.
Take the most popular PSL. This beverage comes in at 380 calories for a 16 ounce cup with 50 grams of carbohydrate and 14 grams of protein if ordering with reduced fat cow's milk. This combo of protein and sugar make for a decent choice for a recovery beverage after a hard workout. Opting for a plant-based milk will reduce the protein content, making it more appropriate for a pre-workout boost. Athletes can indulge accordingly, but the drink fails to provide quality nutrition for a snack or meal away from hard training.
While active athletes' high energy demands allow for an extra caloric treat now and then, we are all aware that even the most active among us shouldn't consume a diet filled with junk. Luckily, there are much healthier ways to give into pumpkin spice season. Whatever pumpkin treats you enjoy, try making them yourself to limit sugar, use whole pumpkin and pair with other nutrient-rich ingredients.
Healthier Pumpkin Spice Latte: (2 servings)
- 2 to 4 shots espresso
- 2 cup oat milk
- 2 scoops collagen protein
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice/pie seasoning
- 2 tablespoons maple Syrup
Use a frothing wand to mix the maple, collagen and seasoning into the espresso. Divide into to mugs. Froth/steam the oat milk and pour over the espresso mixture. Enjoy.
Pumpkin Recovery Smoothie: (1 serving)
- 1/2 cup 100 percent pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 scoop sweet potato whey
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
Blend all ingredients together. Enjoy within 30 minutes of finishing workout or activity.
Spicy & Sweet Roast Pumpkin
- 1 small pie pumpkin
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tablespoon aminos
- 1 teaspoon chipotle flakes
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin into wedges, removing seeds. Place on a baking sheet. Brush with the oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove and toss with the remaining ingredients. Return to the oven for 15 minutes until the flesh is soft. Let cool slightly and scoop away from the rind. Enjoy in salads, rice bowls or as a side dish.
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree or roast pumpkin flesh
- 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained/rinsed
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 tablespoon tahini
- Smoked paprika
- Olive oil
In a food processor, pulse the garlic several times. Add the chickpeas, pumpkin and tahini. Puree. As the motor is running, drizzle in olive oil to create a smooth, silky texture. Add in the salt and paprika to taste. Enjoy with veggies, whole grain crackers or on sandwiches.
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