Pumpkin Spice: Beyond the Hype

Pumpkin spice latte drink

One of the most popular fall flavors is pumpkin, from pumpkin bread to pie to the ever-so-popular pumpkin spice latte. But, do PSL lovers know what is in each sip? 

Let’s break down the pumpkin spice latte and try a healthy alternative snack.

What’s In Your Latte?

A typical, store-bought pumpkin spice latte is 16 ounces made with 2% milk and topped with whipped cream. Each cup contains 380 calories, 13 grams of fat and a whopping 49 grams of sugar. That's more sugar than a can of cola! While some of the sugar is naturally occurring in the milk, these numbers far exceed American Heart Association recommendations of 25 grams of daily sugar for women and 36 grams of daily sugar for men. One pumpkin spice latte eats up your daily sugar budget making it a nice occasional indulgence, not a daily drive-thru staple.

Add Pumpkin to Your Diet, In a Healthy Way

On the other hand, did you know pumpkin seeds can be an easy, healthy snack? They are a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine and are referred to as pepitas, Spanish for “little seed of squash.” These roasted seeds were a celebrated food among many Native American tribes, who treasured them for both their dietary and medicinal purposes.

Here’s what makes them great:

  • Heart healthy: Good source of healthy oils, magnesium and other nutrients that enhance the health of the heart, bones and other functions.
  • Sleep aid: They’re high in the sleep-enhancing amino acid tryptophan which converts to serotonin in your body and helps ensure a good night’s sleep.
  • High in protein: They're a rich source of easily-digestible protein which helps stabilize blood sugar when eaten as a snack throughout the day.
  • Iron source: Pumpkin seeds are a good source of blood-building and energy-boosting iron.
  • Lower cholesterol: They contain phytosterol compounds which are believed to lower cholesterol levels. 
  • Fiber: Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of fiber which helps you feel full, and keeps you regular.

Roasted Pumpkin Seed Recipe

Yield: 2 cups


1 medium-sized pumpkin

4 cups water

1/2 cup salt

2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Remove seeds from pumpkin by separating the pumpkin seeds from the pulp. Discard pulp. Place seeds in a colander and rinse well.
  3. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the pumpkin seeds, return to a boil and let simmer for one full minute. Cover the saucepan tightly and remove it from heat. Let the pumpkin seeds soak for 10 to 20 minutes. Drain.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds with the oil and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven, tossing occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove, cool completely and store in an airtight container.


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