I admit that I love pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. And so do a lot of other people as according to Forbes magazine the pumpkin spiced latte is Starbucks number one limited edition drink. The PSL (Pumpkin Spiced Latte) has sold more than 200 million times since it was first introduced in 2003. And although Starbucks doesn’t disclose the specific profits of the drink Forbes estimates that this year Starbucks will make over 100 million dollars from the drink sold only during the autumn months.
That being said, for the individual consumer watching their weight or sugar intake, the PSL can be a concern. The full fat grande (not the largest) PSL with whipped cream comes in at 420 calories and 50g of sugar. This drink alone is more sugar than a person should have in an entire day. The American Heart Association recommends men limit added sugar to 36 grams, or 9 teaspoons, per day. Women should limit added sugar to 24 grams, or 6 teaspoons, each day.
Although the fat is 0% I’m just not a fan of the sugar in the PSL as they only use full sugar syrup. I’ve asked if they plan to make a sugar free syrup but they have said no for the last 2 years. And the price isn’t anything to sneeze at either at over $5 a cup for a grande. And if you’re vegan the PSL syrup contains condensed milk and has been the subject of a change.org campaign to try to get Starbucks to make the syrup vegan. And you might be sad to hear the PSL has no real pumpkin in it. So I see it as a once or twice a year treat for now.
The “easy” healthy options for pumpkin spice latte
That being said, I have come up with some alternatives. Some are easy and give you the general “feel” of a real pumpkin spice flavor and others are more complex and result in something more similar or even better than Starbucks (don’t tell Starbucks I said that… I live in Seattle where they are based. I need my weekly skinny vanilla lattes and don’t want to get 86’d).
The simplest daily alternative is to simply add some pumpkin spices in with your coffee. You can get the mixtures put together at a lot of places… although they are NOT all the same. I bought some recently from Spicologist, which is a Spokane spice company that I LOVE… I started following them with a Kickstarter campaign they did and have bought from them ever since. In fact, they have the coolest spice display – they were the first to come up with the test tubes filled with spices and held in a wood butcher block. Now lots of places are doing it. The also did a beaker set that had some of their spice mixtures in it that I love (one is a lemon thyme thats perfect for fish). But unfortunately I did not like their pumpkin spice mixture. I think it had too much nutmeg. So I use that mixture now for my mulling spices and I use a bulk store bought pumpkin spices for my coffee. This is definitely not indulgent, but it does give you that fall flavor of spices so familiar in winter foods.
More complicated but tastier healthy options for pumpkin spice latte
A more complicated way is to make a pumpkin spice puree. I make a large batch and then freeze it in cubes. You can then add a cube to your coffee or latte. I start with a can of real organic pumpkin and add 3 tablespoons of pumpkin spice (or a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, ground ginger, ground allspice – mix and match in the proportions you like). Add 3 Tablespoons of real vanilla extract and the I use liquid stevia as the sugar substitute (about 3 full dropper squirts). Sometimes I don’t put the stevia in themixtureand add it later when I am pouring my coffee (2-3 drops a cup). This is in case I want non-sweetened mixture so I can add a different sweetener later… for example if I wanted a pumpkin shake with sugar in the ice cream or yogurt where I often add honey if I want sugar.
Add a small amount of milk, about 1/4 cup and this mixture up and then run it through a fine sieve to get the pulp out and have a smoother final product. I often don’t strain it as I don’t mind the pulp. But I do heat it up but you don’t need to boil it. Just 7-10 minutes on low – long enough for the mixture to meld together. Let it cool and then add it to ice cube trays and place in the freezer. When frozen pop them out and keep them in a zip lock bag for future consumption.
Then if I want a little zing to my coffee I add one large cube or 2-3 of the smaller ice cube trays I often use. If I want a latte I would warm up milk and add the cubes of the pumpkin spice mixture. I would add the espresso once the milk was warm or frothy from my latte maker. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon or the pumpkin spices to the top to make it look pretty.
Other additions, some healthy and some not, I’ve seen on-line but not tried yet:
Adding ground places to buy nizoral shampoo black pepper will give the PSL a kick and amp up the flavor.
Use vanilla powder. I buy this from spiceologist (see comments above) and love adding it to my coffee.
Using the microwave to heat the mixture… really, the purpose of the heating is to med the flavors and get rid of that initial uncooked squashy taste in pumpkin so I see no reason using the microwave wouldn’t work. Let me know if you try this and it does work!
Use vanilla almond or coconut milk to add vanilla flavor.
Add maple syrup or honey – if you want a more sugary taste use the better sugar alternatives like pure maple syrup or local 100% real honey (be careful of store bought cheap honey. There has been a lot of illegally imported honey from China thats diluted and filled with adulterants).
Add about 1/4 tsp of salt to the full mixture. I know that salt does help improve taste and i will experiment with adding some salt. But my husband recently had heart surgery and we are both trying to cut back on salt. Although 1/4 tsp isn’t too bad.
This recipe is: Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free