The first hints of fall are swirling in the air. The days are a bit shorter and a little cooler, making it perfect for evening walks and absolutely necessary to wear your favorite boots. You’ve also witnessed more than one person in the office swoon over a pumpkin spice latte. While your friends seem enchanted by the PSL you don’t really get all the fuss. You love fall but you’re not a huge coffee fan. Surely there is a pumpkin spice flavor alternative to help you celebrate fall?

To be clear pumpkin and pumpkin spice are very different favors. Pumpkin has little flavor on its own, making it a very versatile ingredient. The combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg that makes up pumpkin spice is quite different.  Maybe you’re not so much about the pumpkin spice but you would love to find more ways to take advantage the nutritional power of pumpkin. The pumpkin spice latte isn’t going to provide all the amazing nutrients that real pumpkin will. Pumpkin is a great low calorie source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Canned pumpkin is also easy to keep on hand making it convenient to use in any of these pumpkin foods all year long.

Forget the pumpkin spice latte, try these pumpkin recipes instead

Have you ever tried a smoothie bowl? If you don’t mind something cool and creamy during the darker fall days a smoothie bowl is an excellent protein shake alternative for breakfast or lunch,  The basic smoothie blue print is quite simple: one frozen banana, ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit, one scoop protein powder and 1/3 cup of the  liquid of your choice. To make a pumpkin spice smoothie bowl use ½ cup pumpkin puree (in place of the fruit), Vega Sport Vanilla Flavored protein powder and 1/3 cup brewed chai (not from concentrate!) plus ½ tsp of baking spice or pumpkin. Blend all of the ingredients with the frozen banana in your Ninja or Nutribullet until smooth. Then top with a crunchy granola, like the Maple Pecan from the Mama Jean’s Natural Market bulk section.

If you need something warm and cozy for breakfast on cool fall mornings you need to try my morning mug soufflé. It’s yummy alternative to your usual oatmeal and it’s quick to make in the morning.  Check out my recipe here. And if you really need to spice, enjoy a steaming cup of Plum Deluxe’s Deluxe Pumpkin Spice Tea.

Now that we’ve got breakfast covered what about something more savory for dinner? Without the pumpkin spice flavor, pureed pumpkin makes a great vegan cream sauce. If you have any doubts, start with the Pro Mac recipe from the Protein Ninja cookbook. The recipe calls for butternut squash puree but you can use pumpkin puree instead with incredible results.

If you really want to go all out for fall, try roasting a small pumpkin for dinner and keeping the seeds for snacking. For roasting, you don’t want the giant Jack O’ Lantern pumpkins. Instead find the smaller sugar pumpkins at your favorite farmer market or grocery store. Once roasted, you can slice up the pumpkin to serve on a delicious kale and red cabbage salad or make your own pumpkin puree. Not sure how to roast a pumpkin? Here’s the lowdown from one of my favorite cooking blogs, TheKitchn.

Roasting the seeds of your pumpkin is very simple. After cleaning the seeds off, preheat your oven to 300. Then toss the pumpkin seeds with a little olive oil (and a tiny bit of salt if desired). Place the pumpkin seeds on a sheet pan in a single layer and roast for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Not only do pumpkin seeds make an easy protein rich snack, they are perfect to top salads and smoothie bowls as well as a key ingredient in the Black Bean Hemp Burgers from the Protein Ninja Cookbook.

If you need something less labor intensive but still want to enjoy a non-caffeinated low sugar pumpkin spice alternative never fear – protein bars love fall too. You can get a pumpkin spice fix with a Pumpkin Spice RXBar. RXBars have basic ingredients you can understand (unlike the ingredients in a pumpkin spice latte) and you can’t spill it all over your favorite sweater. You’ll find them just as satisfying as the PSL. Unlike the limited time latte, you can stock up on these bars and enjoy them until spring if you like.

Even with all these amazing new ideas you may cave in to the peer pressure and agree to join your team for the pumpkin spice latte break. It’s it is ok to have A TREAT. Grab a tall and savor it slowly. While you’re sipping you can look oh so smart sharing all these great pumpkin spice flavor alternatives with them.

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