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Pumpkin Madness

Author: Cara Walsh

October 10, 2014

Pumpkin Madness

Author: Cara Walsh

October 10, 2014

It’s that time of year again, fall is here! For most of the country, the weather starts cooling down, the leaves change colors, and you can finally start taking out your sweaters, scarves and boots. However, for us here in California, 80-100 degree weather is still the norm. Leaves don’t change colors and you most certainly can still wear shorts and sandals. Not complaining, but the best way to get into the fall spirit is to embrace everything pumpkin! Many times this can lead to poor diet choices and over eating. However, it is possible to enjoy the pumpkin season and keep your weight down!

Make your Own Pumpkin Spice Latte

Fall is often synonymous with a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte. While Starbucks certainly isn’t the only coffee shop offering this drink, they do offer one of the worst nutritional profiles. For a tall (small sized) coffee, its 330 calories, 14 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 39 g carbohydrates and 37 g of sugar. Not to mention the recent concerns regarding all of the artificial additives and chemicals Starbucks adds to their drinks. Try this recipe below when you are craving a fall drink without all the calories and sugar!

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice Latte


  • 1 shot espresso or 4 oz. strong coffee
  • ¾ cup fat free or nondairy milk (soy, almond, etc.)
  • 3 tbsp. pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 5 drops Stevia
  • 1/8 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice
  •  1/8 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Place coffee, pumpkin, spices, vanilla extract and maple syrup in a blender.
  2. Steam milk with added stevia on the stove top until it is simmering.
  3. Place milk briefly in blender to combine.
  4. Pour mixture into a coffee mug and let sit for one minute to let the milk and foam separate from each other.
  5. This version contains only 185 calories and 22 grams of sugar, which come mostly from natural sources.

Recipe found here.

Use Pumpkin Puree as a Fat Substitute in Recipes

Pumpkin puree has a creamy, delicious consistency that can be used as a substitute for fat (butter, oil, etc.) in many recipes. It is an extremely easy substitution, especially when baking muffins. Some other options include pancakes, waffles or oatmeal. For comparison, if switching out pumpkin for butter—¼ cup butter has 407 calories, 46 g of fat and 29 g saturated fat, while ¼ cup of pure pumpkin puree has 20 calories, 0.2 g of fat and 0 g saturated fat. Just by making one substitution to the recipe you will save 387 calories, 45.8 g of fat and 29 g of saturated fat.

Try this recipe at home for a healthier muffin alternative.

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffin


  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup apple sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp. salt.


  1. Combine pumpkin, eggs, apple sauce, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl—stir until combined.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt together in a separate bowl.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350°.

Visit a Pumpkin Patch or Outdoor Farm

Thankfully, most pumpkin patches don’t have food temptations. Plus, you get to walk around outside, get some exercise and maybe carry around a heavy pumpkin (as an added workout).

Or you could visit an apple orchard. They will let you pick your own apples and take them home with you. It is a fun, healthy activity for the whole family to enjoy!

Pumpkin Patch Rows

However you choose to enjoy this fall season, make sure you embrace your health!

About the Author:

Cara Walsh
Counselor at The Carmel Mountain Ranch Medifast Weight Control Center
Cara Walsh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Weight Control Counselor. Cara received her bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science from San Diego State University and completed her dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian through the Utah State University. Cara is currently completing her Masters in Dietetic Administration through Utah State University. Cara has always had a passion for healthy eating and cooking. She loves to focus on how food can heal and provide nutrition-while tasting delicious. Cara thrives on helping others reach their full potential nutritionally. In her spare time she enjoys reading, going to Pilates and running the boardwalk on the Pacific Ocean with her son and husband.

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