As you probably already know, pumpkin spice season is here. This means tons of specialty and seasonal products are hitting the shelves with a pumpkin spice flavor. From coffee drinks to marshmallows, there are countless ways to add this festive flavoring to your food.
Pumpkin itself is a highly nutritious food with lots of Vitamin A, but be careful. Many times foods or drinks that are “pumpkin flavored” are really just packed with added sugar and may make you regret indulging on that second latte. Though there are some items to avoid, here are ways you can still indulge on this fall classic.
Unfortunately, one of the most popular pumpkin spice items is the first to come up on any list of things you should avoid in the fall if you are watching out for your health. Starbucks’ Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte has almost 400 calories, 13 grams of fat and 49 grams of sugar. That is enough calories to make it a meal, but because it is mainly sugar it will only briefly fill you up and lead to a sugar-induced crash shortly after. If you are dying for Starbucks flavoring, get a latte with skim milk, no whip cream and only one pump of flavoring instead of the usual four in a grande drink to save about 150 calories.
When it comes to breakfast foods, watch out for pumpkin flavored bagels. Einstein Bros Pumpkin Walnut Crunch Bagel has 440 calories, 11 grams of fat and 25 grams of sugar before you add any toppings. Go for a different brand; Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice Bagels only have 260 calories and 1.5 grams of fat each. Add some nut butter on top or enjoy with a glass of milk to add some protein and fat to your meal that will keep you feeling full until lunch.
If you are looking for a crunchy snack to get your pumpkin spice fix, try Kashi Pumpkin Spice Crunchy Granola Bars. You can have 2 for under 200 calories, and they have 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein, plus added omega fatty acids. Nature’s Path Pumpkin-N-Spice Flax Plus Granola Bars may have 30 less calories, but they also have less fiber and protein. You are better off eating a few more calories that are made of things to keep you satisfied.
When it comes to any other pumpkin spice products you may be unsure of, do a little research. Always be on the lookout for something with sugar listed in the first few ingredients. If something has protein, fiber or unsaturated fats it will keep you full. Don’t be afraid to read ingredient lists and see if real pumpkin is anywhere on there or if it is just made of synthetic flavoring. Using these tips can help you enjoy a pumpkin spice-filled fall without ruining your health goals.