No matter how un-basic you swear you are, odds are you have a sweet spot for that moment PSLs get added back to the Starbucks menu. And while the nutmeg- and cinnamon-infused drinks are obviously one of the major highlights of the season, a grande pumpkin spice latte with whole milk and whipped cream from Starbucks tacks on around 420 calories to your day. So if you want to fit into your skimpy Halloween costume, or you’re simply conscious of your daily calorie intake/want to keep your blood sugar at a normal level, then you probably shouldn’t replace your daily coffee with the seasonal latte. Sorry.
But if you can’t help but give in to your obsession with all things pumpkin-flavored, I’ve rounded up a list of pumpkin spice food and drinks that are way fewer calories than pumpkin spice lattes.
If you’re looking for a protein bar that fills you up while also incorporating the benefits of collagen, then Bulletproof’s Pumpkin Spice Collagen Protein Bar should be your new go-to. The bar has a similar texture to that of a cookie versus the sticky, hard textures of other protein bars, so you can trick yourself into thinking you’re actually having a pumpkin cookie but for fewer calories, as the bar is only 220 calories. With 12 grams of protein, it’ll keep you fuller longer than a cookie would, so it’s a win-win.
Simply Balanced’s Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt is not only low-fat, but it also tastes like actual pumpkin pie which takes the intense bitterness away from the greek yogurt. At 130 calories, it’s about one-third of the number of calories in a PSL. And you can totally have this at 9am without being judged.
If you need a crunchy snack but are craving a pumpkin spice flavor, Archer Farms’ pretzels are the perfect combo of salty and spiced. Lightly coated in a pumpkin spice, this treat will only add 200 calories (per serving) to your day.
If you want to satisfy your PSL cravings but are also in need of a high-protein snack, then Quest Bar’s Pumpkin Pie bar is the way to go. It tastes like legit pumpkin pie, has chunks of pie crust, and fills you up with 12 grams of protein.
RXBARs bring you all of the protein without any of the artificial ingredients other protein bars have. The pumpkin spice bar combines egg whites, dates, almonds, cashews, cinnamon, cloves, and pumpkin all blended together to remind you of Thanksgiving night—minus your drunk uncle and overdosing on mashed potatoes.
If you can’t start your crisp fall day without the taste of pumpkin spice, you can pour yourself a bowl of whole grain pumpkin spice Cheerios. Let your first meal of the day be free of gluten and the PSL sugar coma.
Just because you shouldn’t have a PSL every day doesn’t mean you can’t have a pumpkin spice coffee every day. Starbucks’ pumpkin spice flavored ground coffee can easily replace the PSL. Bring the flavor home with you for only around five calories per a cup of black pumpkin spice coffee.
If you need creamer in your coffee (and life), Coffee-Mate’s Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice Creamer adds the cinnamon-nutmeg flavor to your morning coffee for only 15 calories and zero grams of sugar.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the phenomenon that is Halo Top ice cream. And just when you thought the low-calorie ice cream couldn’t get any better (or more basic), they dropped a pumpkin pie flavor. At 360 calories per pint, you can eat the whole thing while you’re binge-watching Netflix Halloween specials without feeling guilty.
We couldn’t have a list of healthy, low-calorie alternatives to the PSL without including a pumpkin spice protein powder. The perfect post-gym snack to make up for your lack of PSL, Orgain’s pumpkin spice powder has 21 grams of protein per serving. So you’ll stay full and won’t feel compelled to grab a pumpkin-flavored donut later in the day.
Images: Giphy (1); Bulletproof; Simply Balanced/Target; Archer Farms/Target; Quest Bar/The Vitamine Shoppe; RXBAR; Cheerios; Starbucks/Target; Coffee-Mate/Amazon; Halo Top/Target; Orgain/Lucky Vitamin
Any mention of PSL season makes me roll my eyes and continue to order my Venti cold brew. As much as I like the taste of pumpkin (kinda?) I don’t really feel the need to give into the whole “pumpkin spice flavored everything” bullshit. Then again, there are some days where we just want to taste some of the new basic shit on the market that’s being obnoxiously advertised in our faces. Like, if an ad for Pumpkin Spice Oreos pops up on Instagram one more time, I might just have to buy a box. Sue me. Pumpkin spice products are all pretty shitty for you, but in case you’re curious about what’s actually in them, here’s an overview of some of the worst pumpkin spice foods out there.
1. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
The Starbucks PSL has gotten more fame in the past few years than the whole Kardashian family combined, and it’s just as stupid, honestly. Everyone knows flavored lattes are loaded with sugar and artificial flavorings, so why must we even investigate this drink? I mean, feel free to order it once or twice just to be a functioning member of society, but if you’re gagging from the PSL taste by Halloween, you’ve probably gone too far. Like, any drink with its own Twitter account just needs to be put in its place. Even Taylor Swift is over how basic she used to be. Maybe we should reconsider the obsession here.
2. Chobani Pumpkin Spice Blended Greek Yogurt
Out of this whole list, this product is probably your safest bet if you desperately need your basic white girl pumpkin spice fix. Everyone feels healthy while eating a Chobani Greek yogurt, and no one even feels the need to look at the label because well, it’s Greek yogurt for god’s sake. While the pumpkin spice flavor isn’t horrible for you (even if it sounds like it tastes horrible), each serving has 12 grams of sugar, which is just kinda stupid for a yogurt. Plus, the ingredients seem kinda sketchy: evaporated cane sugar, fruit pectin, juice concentrate? Like, let’s just say this isn’t a homemade pumpkin pie.
3. Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop Holidrizzle Pumpkin Spice Kettle Corn
Popcorn is one of those snacks that has the potential to be SO healthy for you, but then companies go ahead and drizzle shit all over it, and just like that, you’re shoveling handfuls of sugar into your mouth. Just for reference, there are about 30 calories in a cup of popped popcorn without anything on it, and there are over 100 calories per cup in these. While 100 calories may not seem like a lot, you’ve probably never eaten one cup of popcorn before. It’s basically one small handful. This pumpkin spice popcorn is not gonna kill you, but let’s not pretend this is the popcorn your nutritionist had in mind when she suggested it as a healthy snack.
4. Starbucks Bottled Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino
The bottled Starbucks brand frappuccinos that you see at the Target checkout line are even worse than the real deal. I mean, one tiny bottle has 46 grams of sugar and 300 calories. If you’re grabbing one of these for breakfast in place of what could be a zero-cal beverage with the same exact caffeine content (hi, coffee), please reconsider your priorities. You could literally be eating two Krispy Kreme donuts with the same nutrition content. Just something to consider.
5. Quaker Pumpkin Spice Instant Oatmeal
This product is advertised as “naturally and artificially flavored,” which should probably just be tattooed on our foreheads at this point. Any oatmeal that claims to taste like a slice of pumpkin pie is probably not the freshest, healthiest breakfast for you, but then again it’s not terrible. Each packet has 160 calories and 10 grams of sugar, which isn’t the worst, but then again it’s a bowl of oatmeal. The ingredients are also pretty similar to the Maple Brown Sugar and Apple Cinnamon flavors, which just makes us question how much of this recipe is actually natural and how much is artificial. There’s no chance it’s a 50/50 split.
6. Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice Muffin
I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that Dunkin Donuts muffins all clock in at around 500 calories, and the pumpkin spice muffin doesn’t seem to be any better or worse for you. For one entire muffin, you’re consuming 77 grams of carbs and over 40 grams of sugar, basically feeding your body a bucket of artificial shit, heavy flour, and maybe the tiniest bit of pumpkin. I guess you can split this with a friend and get away with it if you need a muffin that badly? I’d just avoid it, though. There’s literally nothing good in here, aside from the two grams of fiber in the whole thing.
7. Kashi Pumpkin Spice Flax Granola Bars
I’ve never tried these bars personally, but the nutrition info is actually not that bad considering what it’s going up against here. I mean, I guess you’d expect anything with the words “flax” and “granola” in it to be somewhat healthy, and this definitely passes the test. Each bar is only about 80 calories, with only 5 grams of sugar, and plus there’s some protein and fiber thrown in there. There’s a ton of ingredients that you’d need a biology degree to understand, but overall this isn’t that bad for you if you desperately need some pumpkin spice in your life. But then again it’s a granola bar, so like how much enjoyment are you possibly getting from this thing?