When pumpkin spice is not so nice

HOUSTON – Fall is the time of year when many people like to indulge in pumpkin spice - everything!

It’s not hard to find: lattes, pie, muffins, anything you want, however, according to health experts, not all pumpkin is created equal.

In fact, dietitian Catherine Kruppa from Advice for Eating said there’s almost no vitamin A or other nutrients that you get from pumpkin in its flavored counterparts.

While real pumpkin is packed with beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C, Kruppa said the pumpkin flavorings in coffee and processed foods could destroy your diet.

"Depending on the size [of a pumpkin spice latte], they're 40 to 50 grams of sugar which is close to your sugar allotment for the day, "Kruppa said. "So, I have people who order coffee drinks like that, I relate it to going to Baskin-Robbins every day. We don't go to Baskin-Robbins every day but for some reason, getting a sugar-loaded coffee drink is OK."

Instead, Kruppa said baking treats at home using canned pumpkin will give you unique flavors and nutrition without the sugar overload.

She said it’s available all year long in the baking aisle, just make sure you’re getting pureed pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.

"One of the things about eating healthy is people feel like you have to eat the same chicken, broccoli all the time, "said Kruppa. "So that's one of the things I like about pumpkin coming in season is that you can change things up and get a little different flavor for a little while, while it's in season. But again, you can really do it all year long, it's just really popular this time of year."

Here are some of her preferred pumpkin recipes:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Recipe adapted from Chickpea in the City
•    ½ cup unsweetened almond milk 
•    1 Tbsp. almond butter 
•    ½ frozen banana 
•    ½ cup pumpkin puree, unsweetened 
•    ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
•    Splash of vanilla extract 
•    Pinch of salt 
•    ½ scoop of 100% whey, collagen or vegan protein powder 
Optional Toppings
●        Sprinkle of crushed pecans
●        Sprinkle of roasted pepitas
●        Sprinkle of toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
Blend all ingredients together in the blender until smooth. Add more water for a thinner consistency. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 serving
Serving Size: 12 ounces
Amount Per Serving: 
•    Calories: 320 
•    Total Fat: 13 g 
•    Carbohydrates: 31 g 
•    Protein: 18 g 

Pumpkin Muffins

●        16 oz. liquid egg whites
●        1 can (8 oz.) pumpkin 
●        ½ cup applesauce, unsweetened 
●        1 ½ cups rolled oats  
●        1 tsp. baking soda
●        1 ½ Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
●        1 tsp. vanilla extract 
●        Cooking spray
●        Optional: Sprinkle with pecans or almonds, mix in ¼ cup of stevia to increase sweetness


Preheat oven to 325 F.

Spray muffin pan with cooking spray. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl or blend in a blender for a smoother look. Use ¼ cup measuring cup to fill a muffin pan ⅔ full.  Top with optional toppings.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. 
Nutritional Information:
Yield: 18 muffins
Serving Size: 1 muffin  
Amount Per Serving:
•       Calories: 48
•       Total Fat: 1 g  
•       Carbohydrates: 7 g 
•       Protein: 4 g

Protein Pumpkin Oatmeal: Recipe from Brittany Mullins

●        ½ cup rolled oats
●        ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
●        ½ cup water
●        ½ ripe banana, sliced
●        ¼ cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh, if using canned make sure it doesn’t have anything else added to it)
●        ¼ cup liquid egg whites or 2 egg whites from whole eggs
●        1 tsp. vanilla extract
●        ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
●        Pinch of salt
●        Pinch of cinnamon
Topping options:
●        Sliced roasted walnuts or almonds
●        Peanut or almond butter
●        Additional cinnamon
●        Shredded unsweetened coconut 
In a pot over high heat, combine the almond milk, water, banana slices, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, salt and cinnamon. Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the oatmeal. Turn down the heat and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 or 6 minutes.

Pour in the egg whites and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes. This will keep them from cooking so they turn a fluffy consistency. 

Once all the liquid is absorbed and the oatmeal is cooked through, place in a bowl and add your toppings.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 serving without toppings
Serving Size: 1 bowl without toppings
Amount Per Serving: 
•    Calories: 286 
•    Total Fat: 5 g 
•    Carbohydrates: 47 g 
•    Protein: 14 g