It’s hard to not get caught up in all the pumpkin spiced hype. Coffee shops have been on the band-wagon even before the leaves started to turn. Now that October is almost here, I think it is fair to start filling the kitchen with pumpkin spiced everything. I used to love enjoying a Pumpkin Spiced Latte at a coffee shop, but I now know that they are so loaded with sugar and so not worth the post-latte crash. This healthier alternative to the sugar-loaded versions will have you surprisingly pleased, and all from the comfort of your cosy couch. I’m sure that this Simple Pumpkin Spiced Latte will turn out to be a regular in your autumn morning routine, just like it has in mine.
“Cinnamon has been shown in help regulate blood sugar levels. Adding 1/4 tsp of cinnamon to your day may help with better glycemic control”.
You don’t need an espresso machine at home to enjoy cafe style seasonal drinks. I love using freshly brewed coffee straight from my French Press, or even leftover coffee to help save time in the morning. This recipe is as simple as combining all the ingredients and whisking until well combined, no fancy machinery needed. I always keep a can of pumpkin puree on hand so I can enjoy this seasonal treat anytime.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon Can Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Several clinical trials have found cinnamon to have positive results for blood sugar lowering in type 2 diabetics. Overall it appears that taking cassia cinnamon (note studies were not referring to Saigon cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon) at doses of 120 milligrams to 6 grams daily for 4 to 18 weeks can significantly reduce fasting blood sugar levels (1,2,3,4). For reference, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon is about 5 grams.
Cinnamon and Cholesterol Management
Some studies were also able to demonstrate a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) and triglycerides were all lower with consumption of cinnamon, and HDL cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol) (1).
How To Brew Coffee
Grinding Coffee Beans
Using freshly ground coffee beans ensure you are getting the maximum amount of flavour out of your beans. When coffee is ground, the delicate oils in the coffee bean are more sensitive to contamination which can include odours, oxygen or moisture. I use this very inexpensive coffee grinder which does the trick.
Coffee connoisseurs will probably wrinkle their noses in disgust, but I also use my coffee grinder as a spice grinder and it is great for grinding up peppercorns, or all the spices needed to make this Chia Tea. To prevent the flavour of the spices (or coffee beans) from carrying over, simply grind some dry rice in the coffee grinder in between uses. Grinding rice helps to absorb the flavours so your coffee will not taste like black pepper, or vice-versa.
- For the Fresh Press use a coarse grind which should resemble chunky, distinct particles, like coarse sea salt.
- For Drip Coffee use a medium grind for flat bottom filters, which will be similar to coarse sand. If your coffee drip has a cone-shaped filter, use a medium-fine grind which is somewhere in-between course sand and sugar. If the grind is too course, the coffee will be too weak. If the grind is too fine the coffee may be bitter.
For a properly brewed cup of coffee, boiled water should be left to rest for at least 30 seconds before adding to the freshly ground coffee.
- For the Fresh Press method use 1 heaped to 2 level tbsp of ground coffee per cup of water. Use more for stronger coffee, less for weaker coffee. Add the ground coffee to your French Press and add water. Carefully reinsert the plunger into the pot, stopping just above the water and ground coffee (do not plunge yet), and let stand for 3-4 minutes. Plunge gently and slowly, with a steady pressure. I use this French Press.
- For Drip Coffee follow the instructions that came with your machine. As a general rule use 2 tbsp of ground coffee per cup of water. Be sure to clean your machine weekly to retain the best flavour in your coffee.
Choosing the Right Coffee
Light Roast has the most amount of caffeine and is lighter in flavour. Dark roasted beans have the longest roasting process; the beans will lose some of their origin flavours and take on more flavour from the roasting process. Darker roasts will have the least amount of caffeine. Medium roast is right smack in the middle and is my go-to coffee. This is my favourite coffee, and it is roasted right here in BC.
The Ethics of Coffee
It is important to choose Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance to ensure that your dollars are going towards providing fair wages to farmers and supporting the community. Choosing organic coffee ensures that no nasties have been sprayed on your beans. Conventional coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops and this can include pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. Kicking Horse is both Organic and holds the Fair Trade certification.
Tips On How To Make This Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Using a Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
For some early morning time saving a Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend can be pre-purchased, and generally consist of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and occasionally cardamom and ginger. I like this brand here. At the beginning of fall, I like to make a big batch of my own using pre-purchased organic spices. If you would like to make your own there are many recipes online, I usually use this one from Wellness Mama.
- For this recipe use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice blend in place of the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
How To Get A Creamy Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Milk alternatives with a very low-fat content, such as store-bought almond milk, cashew milk and coconut milk (not canned) will not produce a creamy coffee. For the creamiest consistency use a milk or milk alternative with a fat content. Organic soy milk works for this recipe, but I prefer it with homemade cashew milk (as per recipe below), homemade almond milk or hemp milk. See my recipe for Homemade Hemp Milk here..
Blending This Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Depending on which milk or milk alternative you use you may find that it ‘curdles’ if boiled. I have found this with canned coconut milk, and with homemade hemp milk. To prevent this, make sure you only gently heat your milk or milk alternative and as soon as you see bubbles forming, turn down the heat. Use a whisk to ensure that all the pumpkin puree is well incorporated.
Getting The Foam On Top
If you are like me and don’t have any fancy frothing devices at home, my trick to getting a foam topping for this pumpkin spiced latte is blitzing it for a few seconds in my blender (I use my Vitamix which has a steam vent). The churning processes will get a nice layer of bubbles to form which is my at-home-version of a latte.
Notes on Pumpkin Spiced Latte
This recipe can be doubled or tripled to be had throughout the week. When reheating be sure not to boil the mixture, simply heat it over medium heat, turning down the heat once bubbles start to form. You will also need to use a whisk to reincorporate the ingredients before serving.
I enjoy this pumpkin spiced latte cold as well. Try adding it along with a few ice cubes to your blender for a refreshing iced pumpkin latte.
On Buying Canned Ingredients
Generally, I try not to use too many canned ingredients, both to reduce packaging as well as for health reasons. Many canned products are lined with BPA (see my post on BPA here). I have found this brand of organic canned pumpkin puree that I use solely for this drink, and the liner is BPA-free. I have tried using freshly cooked and pureed pumpkin, which is much more difficult to blend but still tastes great.
Omitting The Pumpkin
When you purchase pumpkin spiced drinks at cafes, generally ‘pumpkin spice’ has nothing to do with pumpkin, but instead refers to the blend of spices used (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and sometimes ginger). By omitting the pumpkin you will still technically have a ‘pumpkin spiced latte’, and believe it tastes just as delicious.
Want More Warming Drink Recipes
There is no doubt that a warm cup of nourishment is a necessity once the nights get longer. If you are looking for some more inspiration try this Simple Ginger Turmeric Latte, this Dandelion Root Latte or this Chaga Turmeric Golden Milk Latte.
Serve It In These Beautiful Copper Mugs
I love these copper mugs from Moscow Muled. They are traditionally handcrafted locally nearby in Vancouver B.C. Even better if you purchase one of these copper mugs 15% of their profits are donated to several non-profit organizations that work to stop impaired driving. Copper Mugs aren’t limited to cocktails, try them with a warm drink, just making sure your latte is not steaming hot. Not only will the heat curdle the milk it will heat the copper mug.
Did you make this recipe? Please let me know how it turned out for you! Share it on Pinterest and leave a comment below. Take a photo of your recreation on Instagram and tag me @theconsciousdietitian so I can see it!
So Simple Pumpkin Spice Latte
If you are like me and do not own an espresso machine but would still love to enjoy a healthy pumpkin spiced latte when the season hits, then this is the recipe for you. It's so simple to make and helps you use up that leftover pumpkin pie filling that you've been looking for a use for.
If you haven't already made the cashew milk, start by soaking the cashews (ideally for 4 hours but with a high-speed blender the soaking is not necessary). Drain the cashews and add to a high-speed blender and add 2 cups of water. Blend on high until a creamy milk forms. No need to strain.
Brew to the coffee in a French Press or whichever method you choose, and adjust the strength of your liking. Next combine the coffee, cashew milk (or other milk alternative), pumpkin puree and spices in a saucepan and gently heat, being sure not to let it get to a rapid boil. Use a whisk to ensure the pumpkin pie filling mixes through.
Once heated, remove from heat and stir in honey until well combined, I usually start with 1 tbsp of honey. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Enjoy!
Make it Vegan: Use maple syrup in place of honey.
No High-Speed Blender: Use organic soy milk.
Make it Simpler:Use a pre-purchased or pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice mix, or even a chai mix will do.
Nutrition Analysis uses full honey amount and soy milk with added calcium.
References For Simple Pumpkin Spiced Latte
1) Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan M, et al. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003;26:3215-8
2) Crawford P. Effectiveness of cinnamon for lowering hemoglobin A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 2009;22:507-12.
3) Akilen, R., Tsiami, A., Devendra, D., and Robinson, N. Glycated haemoglobin and blood pressure-lowering effect of cinnamon in multi-ethnic Type 2 diabetic patients in the UK: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Diabetic Medicine. 2010;27(10):1159-1167
4) Akilen R, Tsiami A, Devendra D, Robinson N. Cinnamon in glycaemic control: Systematic review and meta analysis. Clinical Nutrition 2012;31(5):609-15.