OK, so don’t judge me. I know that pumpkin spice latte is the drink of the much-maligned basic white girl. But I kinda love it for its autumnal obviousness and cinnamony sweetness. And yeah, I’ll confess, while we’re at it, that I also wear Uggs and like Taylor Swift. Tick, tick, tick. As I said, don’t judge me. But here’s the thing. It needn’t actually be bad for you. OK, so most of the coffee shop versions don’t contain any actual pumpkin and have ker-razy amounts of sugar syrup in them. Not cool, even by my standards. But it is entirely possible to create healthy Halloween recipes – my version has real pumpkin in it (even if I succumbed to laziness and bought a can of pumpkin puree – hey, nobody’s perfect). It also has raw honey in it instead of sugar, since it’s National Honey Week (see my earlier post on honey versus sugar). As for the pumpkin bread, well, it’s just comforting and delicious and a lot better for you than you’d expect.
The fact is that pumpkin is massively good for you. It’s full of fibre, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. It has outlandish amounts of vitamin A – important for your eyesight. It is packed full of beta-carotene (responsible for the crazy orangeness) which is a useful antioxidant, and has masses of potassium which helps muscle recovery after exercise. Oh, and the seeds contain healthy fats and tryptophan, which helps you to sleep and lifts your mood.
So, down to business.
Healthy pumpkin spice latte
This version has just a modest amount of honey in it instead of sugar syrup. I’ll confess I started off with just one meagre teaspoon of honey, but it was just a little bit too earnestly wholesome for my taste. This is still meant to be a bit of a treat, after all, so I upped it to a tablespoon and everyone agreed it was much nicer.
So here’s how you make it:
- 1-2 shots strong espresso
- 2.5 tbsp pumpkin puree
- 200 ml milk (I used semi-skimmed – this one’s up to you)
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground cloves
- Pour espresso into large cup.
- Put remaining ingredients into small pan and heat, whisking as you heat.
- Add milk mixture to cup and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Mine would have looked better if I’d had a proper electric whisk, but mine is broken so this is done by hand, rather impatiently as it happens.
honey pumpkin bread
This is a bit like a tea loaf – if you think banana bread you’ve got the right idea – so it’s not exactly a cake and it’s not exactly bread. It’s best still slightly warm with a generous spreading of butter (which, incidentally, is enjoying a come-back in health food circles – as far as I’m concerned, that’s carte blanche to be liberal with the butter knife). It’s dead easy to make and I’d say eminently freezable if you doubled the quantities and made a second loaf. If my household is anything to go by, one loaf won’t last very long. This is an altered version of an American recipe, hence the measurements being in cups. The generous amounts of pumpkin mean there’s a lot less fat in the recipe than you’d usually find in a cake (so you can spread all the more on top!)
- 1/2 cup (8 oz) pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup soft butter (I used a spreadable butter)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- pinch salt
- Whisk together pumpkin puree, honey and butter in a large bow.
- Add eggs one at a time and whisk again.
- Sift in dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Turn into a greased 2 lb loaf tin.
- Bake at 180C for 50-60 minutes (check after 50). It should be well risen and golden.and a skewer should come out clean.
- Allow to cool in tin.
- Serve sliced with butter.
Having indulged in both of these today, I’m now feeling all autumnal and ready for log fires and chilly walks and bonfires and fireworks. I’m even feeling tolerably well-disposed towards trick-or-treaters. Autumn, bring it on.
If you have a go at making these, let me know how you get on. And don’t forget to share your own autumnal favourites.