For a few weeks now, the classic fall beverage--the PSL or pumpkin spice latte--has been available in some shape or form in cafes across the U.S.
Now all of us at Healthful Seasons love our PSLs just as much as the next gal but we're sorry to say: we have been having a few qualms this latte season...
We're based here in Ohio and as any mid-westerner can tell you, the weather does NOT like to cooperate with our concept of seasons. Just this week we had 80+ degree weather! Not really the atmosphere we usually have in mind for a hot beverage... What do people turn to in the southern U.S. for Fall vibes??
A typical medium PSL made with 2% milk has 50 grams of sugar plus--that's 4 whopping tablespoons.
Some of that sugar is coming naturally from the milk. But let's say about a cup and half of milk is used in each latte. That still leaves around 32 grams of added sugar.
To put it in context, the American Heart Association recommends that women limit their added sugar to 24 grams a day (1).
What Makes Added Sugar Different?
Fruits and veggies contain their own natural sugar, and dieticians encouraging us to decrease these foods are very few and far between. That's because Mother Nature packaged fruits and veggies with tons of vitamins, fiber, minerals, and water to make them holistically beneficial to our health.
That perfect package means our body processes their natural sugar a lot differently than the added sugar in beverages, cereals, and packaged food items straight off the assembly line.
And there is no benefit to added sugar whatsoever for our bodies.
Why Does Our Added Sugar Intake Matter?
Let's get straight to the point.
Study after study has linked diets high in added sugar with increased risks for health conditions like heart disease and diabetes in addition to weight gain that can negatively impact our health (2, 3).
However, in the science world, the concept that the link between added sugar and negative health effects is "controversial" can still be seen floating around.
Recent documentaries and unbiased scientific reviews have discovered that's due in large part to large companies' paid influence. Industries like soda have a long history of paying scientists to downplay the potential negative impact added sugar can have on our health (4).
If you're really interested in learning more and visually seeing the impact added sugar can have on our bodies, we recommend a recent Australian documentary titled That Sugar Film. It's like Super Size Me--sugar version.
We have no affiliation with them whatsoever. It's just an interesting resource in a crazy world of conflicting reports on the latest diet recommendations. We've experienced the confusion over not knowing where to turn to for accurate health recommendations, so we try to share quality health and wellness resources for women as we come across them ourselves.
How to Get Started Making a Low-Sugar Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie
Our answer this Fall to the PSL dilemma: The Guilt-Free, Low-Sugar Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie.
This smoothie is actually a two-for-one: a pumpkin base with lovely warm pumpkin pie spices and a white walnut frozen "cream" for the topping. Does that make it twice as good as a PSL? We think so!
To start, we'll need to prepare 5 cubes of frozen coffee, 1/3 cup frozen of canned pumpkin, and 2 frozen bananas.
For this recipe, we like to fill ice cube trays with some espresso or darkly brewed coffee. We'll also fill another one with at least a 1/3 cup of canned pumpkin.
If you don't have time to prepare these ingredients ahead of time, you can make the smoothie with these the pumpkin and coffee at room temp. Just know that the smoothie won't be as thick.
However, we do recommend that you always use frozen bananas in your smoothie whenever possible so you can achieve that perfect smoothie texture. We share tips on preparing bananas for the freezer so your always prepared for smoothie time in our Poolside Pineapple Smoothie blog post.
How to Sweeten Your PSL Smoothie
Banana is one of our top ten fruit go-tos for smoothies for their ability to not only thicken but to sweeten any smoothie. Add this to just a touch of vanilla and you have yourself one satisfying treat.
But if you really love a sweet smoothie, try adding a dried and pitted date to the recipe! Just chop it a little bit before adding to the blender to help it break down. They're surprisingly sweet but come in that healthy fruit package our bodies love.
Blending Your Smoothie
For the first smoothie, we'll start with 1/4 milk of your choice (dairy, almond, oat, etc.) and 1/4 Greek yogurt for a protein boost and extra thickener. Next add your slices from 1 frozen banana, 4-5 frozen cubes of coffee, that 1/3 cup canned pumpkin (preferably frozen), 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and 1/2 tsp vanilla.
We also love to put a scoop of Healthful Seasons Collagen Peptides with L-Carnitine for added health and beauty benefits in there, too. Collagen may help your body increase your skin's hydration and elasticity, decrease the appearance of your fine lines, support joint health, and even grow your hair out. Who can pass that up?
Once blended, add that velvety pumpkin smoothie to your favorite smoothie glass. Give that blender a quick rinse and on to the last part: the walnut topping.
In the blender, add 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, slices from 1 frozen banana, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1 scoop of collagen peptides. Blend, top your PSL off with your walnut "cream," and enjoy!
- The Nutrition Source. Added Sugar in the Diet. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/added-sugar-in-the-diet/
- Vos MB, Kaar JL, Welsh JA, Van Horn LV, Feig DI, Anderson CAM, Patel MJ, Cruz Munos J, Krebs NF, Xanthakos SA, Johnson RK; American Heart Association Nutrition Committee of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Epidemiology and Prevention; Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology; and Council on Hypertension. Added Sugars and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Children: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017 May 9;135(19):e1017-e1034. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000439. Epub 2016 Aug 22. PMID: 27550974; PMCID: PMC5365373.
- Moore JB, Fielding BA. Sugar and metabolic health: is there still a debate? Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2016 Jul;19(4):303-9. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000289. PMID: 27152734.
Kearns CE, Schmidt LA, Glantz SA. Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research: A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents. JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Nov 1;176(11):1680-1685. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5394. Erratum in: JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Nov 1;176(11):1729. PMID: 27617709; PMCID: PMC5099084.
Guilt-Free, Low-Sugar Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie
With zero grams of added sugar, this Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie offers all the fall vibes, tons of health benefits, and none of the guilt.
2 frozen bananas (sliced)
1/3 cup Canned Pumpkin (preferably frozen)
4-5 cubes of frozen coffee
1/2 Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice)
1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp ginger)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup walnuts
2 scoops of Healthful Seasons Collagen Peptides
For the pumpkin base of the smoothie, begin by adding half of the Greek yogurt (1/4 cup) and half of the vanilla (1/2 tsp) to a blender.
Next, add 1 scoop collagen peptides, slices from one of the frozen bananas, all the pumpkin spice (1/2 tsp), all the coffee (4-5 cubes), all the pumpkin puree (1/3 cup), and 1/4 cup milk and blend. Scrape down sides and blend once more if needed.
Pour the pumpkin smoothie into a smoothie glass.
Rinse out the blender.
Add the remaining ingredients (1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1 frozen banana, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1 scoop collagen) to the clean blender. Blend. Scrape the sides of the blender down with a spatula and blend once more if necessary.
Top your pumpkin smoothie with your walnut "cream" and enjoy!
Calories 413, Protein 24.1 grams, Sugar 33.1 grams, Fat 6.9 grams, Fiber 10 grams, Carbs 68.3 grams