Pumpkin Spice Latte, yo!
PHOTOGRAPH BY MASSONSTOCK/GETTY

Make Your Own Organic Pumpkin Spice + Never Look Back

Not only is it all natural, and far tastier than the chemicals they pump into those lattes, you don't have to wait around for it to be in season.

October 6, 2015

It's fall, and a casual stroll through the grocery store will tell you that means anything that can be flavored with pumpkin spice, has been. In addition to pumpkin-spice muffins, doughnuts and (who could forget) lattes, we now have pumpkin-flavored beer, candy, tea, chips, soda, vodkas, bagels, bread, Pop-Tarts, dog treats, yogurt…the list seems endless.

Their one unifying characteristic? Almost none of them contain real pumpkin. And that's a shame, as pumpkin is a great flavor in its own right and is full of nutrition and fiber. They're really flavored with pumpkin spice blends, which are added to other questionable ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, and then dyed orange with artificial food coloring.

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Related: Knock Your Socks Off Pumpkin Pie

Soon, all those pumpkin-flavored creations will disappear, to be replaced by winter-spice-flavored-everything. If that leaves you going through withdrawal, never fear! Whipping up your own versions is super simple and much healthier for you—because you can add real pumpkin and reap all its amazing health benefits

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pumpkin spice is perfect with (or without) pumpkin, and not just for pie. Use it to flavor drinks, to juice up baked winter squash, or even to simmer in water on your stove to perfume your home.

Pre-mixed blends are widely available, but they're expensive and easy to replace with spices you already have in your cabinet. Feel free to adjust the amounts of any of the basic spices to your taste. I like to add a pinch of cardamom for a special twist.

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg (fresh-grated is especially good)
1½ teaspoons ground allspice
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

Combine and store in a small glass gar with a tight lid away from light, such as inside a dark cupboard. Once it's made, you can use it to flavor any food you want. 

Of course, what you really want is that sweet, sweet, fall-flavored coffee drink. All the taste and delectable aroma, without the high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor, and hassle of driving across town? But how? The secret ingredient is pumpkin spice syrup, and it is really easy to make your own.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1 cup organic granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (recipe above)
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (make your own by roasting your own pumpkin so you can avoid the harmful BPA in canned-food liners)

1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the sugar has dissolved. You can also make a honey-based syrup with ⅞ cup honey and 1 ⅛ cups water, or a calorie-free syrup with 1 ⅞ cups water and 4 teaspoons stevia extract.

2. Then, add pie spice and puree. Simmer the syrup, spice, and pumpkin puree for about 10 minutes on low. Strain. Use immediately or store in a glass jar for up to a month.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

2 ounces Pumpkin Spice Syrup
8 ounces organic whole milk
1 to 2 shots espresso or 4 ounces cold-brewed coffee concentrate

Steam the milk and put half in your mug. Add the syrup and the espresso or coffee concentrate (heated). Stir and top with the rest of the steamed milk. Top with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice if you'd like.

Variations

Pumpkin Spice Tea: Not a coffee fan? Mix 1 ounce of your syrup into a mug of hot tea.

Pumpkin Spice Soda: For a refreshing cold drink, add 2 ounces of your syrup to 8 ounces of unflavored seltzer water, and add some ice.

Pumpkin Spice Cocktail: Need a cocktail to serve at your holiday gatherings? Combine 2 ounces of vodka with 2 ounces of your syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a thin slice of fresh ginger.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
This, too, made an appearance at many a fast-food joint this fall—but dyed orange with food coloring and laden down with unhealthy processed food additives. Make your own to spread on bagels, graham crackers (it tastes like cheesecake, and the crackers provide the crust), or toasted pumpkin bread.

8 ounces organic cream cheese (or Neufchâtel for a lower-fat version)
½ cup organic pumpkin puree (plain)
¼ cup organic sugar or honey, or stevia to taste
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Allow the cheese to warm to room temperature. Combine all ingredients until well blended. Use immediately or store in a glass container in the fridge for up to a week (if you can keep it that long without eating any).

Spicy Baked Pumpkin Veggie Chips
Enjoy the flavor of the season in a great snack that also packs the nutritional punch of pumpkin rather than just the flavor. My favorite variety is "neck pumpkin," which looks like a butternut squash with a really long neck. The entire neck is solid flesh and has no seeds, making it easy to slice and use. White-and-green-striped cushaw is another tasty pumpkin variety. Explore your local farmer's market and try some of the great varieties out there.

Related: Homemade Potato Chips

1 pound whole organic pumpkin, raw
1 to 2 teaspoons organic olive oil
Pumpkin pie spice

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone sheet, for easy cleanup.

2. Peel, seed, and slice the pumpkin into ⅛-inch-thick slices.

3. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the prepared pans (don't overlap or they will cook into mush rather than chips). Use a pastry brush or spray applicator to apply a thin coat of oil to the slices, then flip them over and do the other side. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and place them in the oven.

4. After 10 minutes, use tongs to turn the chips, and repeat that process every 5 minutes until they are as crispy as you want. You will need to watch them carefully, as once they start to brown, they will progress to burned very quickly.

5. Total baking time will be anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how thick your chips are and how brown you like them.

 

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