Wellness Wednesday: Healthier Pumpkin-Flavored Alternatives

By Dana Burke

Because Florida does not experience seasons (unfortunately, hot or cold does not count), we celebrate fall in other festive ways — mainly stuffing our faces with pumpkin-flavored food and drinks. Lucky for those of us enthralled by pumpkin spice, there are a ton of options to choose from. Not so good: Most autumn-inspired indulgences are high in calories, fat and sugar.

Next time a pumpkin craving hits, use our handy guide to choose carefully. Chances are your favorite pumpkin treat has a healthier (and just as delicious) alternative.

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(Photo via Starbucks.com)

Worst Coffee: Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

380 calories, 13 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 49 g sugar for a 16-ounce grande

Yes, we are completely aware of how perfect and delicious the PSL is. Even with its superb blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, at 380 calories it’s more of a small meal than just a drink. Don’t switch your daily Starbucks order from a grande hot coffee to a Pumpkin Spice Latte unless you’re prepared to pack on the pounds. 

Best Coffee: Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Approx. 2-5 calories per cup

Absolutely need to feel like you’re drinking a small, warm pumpkin in a cup every morning? Try Green Mountain’s Pumpkin Spice Coffee for a morning-boost full of fall-flavor at only 2 calories a cup. Sure, you have to brew it yourself, but even with two teaspoons of sugar and a tablespoon of cream, the drink is only about 54 calories, drastically less than that latte you were going to spend $5 on.

Alternative Coffee:

If you don’t want to make your own coffee, ask the barista at Starbucks to add pumpkin spice flavoring to a normal hot coffee. You’ll get the same flavor with significantly fewer calories at a fraction of the cost of a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

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(Photo via einsteinbros.com)

Worst Bagel: Einstein Bros Pumpkin Walnut Crunch Bagel

450 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 25 g sugar

This bad boy is 450 calories WITHOUT cream cheese. We think that’s a reason in itself to stay away. Add Einstein Bros Pumpkin Shmear and it passes the 500-calorie mark. Yikes!

Best Bagel: Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice Bagel Thins

110 calories, 1 g fat, 3 g sugar per bagel 

So you absolutely need a pumpkin-flavored bagel in your pie hole ASAP? Pick up some Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice Bagel Thins from Publix. At 110 calories apiece, this is a much better choice than Einstein Bros Pumpkin Walnut Crunch Bagel. Bonus: They’re made with real pumpkin!

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(Photo via http://www.barefootkitchenwitch.com)

 Worst Beer: Southern Tier Imperial Pumking

473 calories per 22 oz. bottle

The higher a beer’s alcohol by volume (abv), the more calories it contains. This pumpkin-flavored beer by Southern Tier Brewing ranks high at 8.6 percent abv. However, the 22-ounce bottle is what makes this beer hard to swallow. Finish one and you’ve just consumed 473 calories.

Best Beer: Post Road Pumpkin Ale

165 calories per 12 oz. bottle

This beer is normal-sized at 12 oz, which makes it easier to control consumption. With an abv of five percent, this ale from Brooklyn Brewery contains about 165 calories per bottle. Sip easy knowing that you’re not drinking your weight in calories by enjoying this brew.

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(photo via Panera.com)

Worst Sweet: Panera Pumpkin Muffin

590 calories, 22 g fat, 53 g sugar
No matter how much you love pumpkin, do you really think an almost 600-calorie muffin is worth it? We don’t. Just stay as far away as you can from this one. (If you must eat a pumpkin muffin at Panera, go with the not-as-fattening muffin top, known as a “muffie.” It has 290 calories, 11 g fat and 26 g sugar. Still bad, but you won’t feel as guilty.)

Best Sweet: Red Mango Pumpkin Spice Frozen Yogurt

80 calories per half cup, 0 g fat, 18 g sugar

It exists — an (almost) guiltless treat! Red Mango’s Pumpkin Spice Frozen Yogurt is only 25 calories an ounce, or about 80 calories per half cup. Plus, it’s a perfect cold compliment to Florida’s hot fall weather. Eat up!

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