At the risk of sounding like a jaded, overly-nostalgic millennial, I’d like to share this hot take with you: fall was better when the only pumpkin-themed things we lost our shit over were Pillsbury’s Ready to Bake sugar cookies with a jack-o-lantern design. In the last few years, we’ve gone from being a society that spent a little too much money on the occasional Pumpkin Spice Latte to a full-fledged cult that will go primal over anything that is even vaguely marketed as fall-adjacent. If you’ve recently started to feel suffocated by the volume of pumpkin things available for purchase at every retail store in the country, I’m going to do you a favor and narrow it down for you. Here’s which completely unnecessarily pumpkin flavored (or scented) thing you should purchase, based on your zodiac sign.
Aries: Pumpkin Spice Scented Build-A-Bear
As the first sign of the zodiac, Aries is both aggressive and childish, which means you’re always the first friend to suggest pickleback shots for the table at a nice sit-down dinner. This insane pumpkin spice scented (yes, scented) Build-A-Bear is right up your alley, because there’s truly nothing quite as on-brand for you as buying a scented plush toy and insisting that it’s innovative.
Taurus: An Absurdly Sized Vat of Pumpkin Body Wash
Picture this: you’re walking down the extremely cursed beauty aisle of TJ Maxx (I say this because I saw Rae Dunn nail wraps there last week), when you set your sights on a 32 ounce bottle of pumpkin scented body wash. Your roommate politely suggests that you’ll never use it all up before the end of November, and you literally sprout bull horns from the corners of your forehead. By the time you get to the cash register, your conscience is whispering, “maybe this is a stupid purchase,” but ultimately, your stubborn Taurus sun wins again.
Gemini: Pumpkin Spice Vodka
There is no delicate way to say this, so I do apologize, but Gemini… you are balls to the wall unhinged. Only you could let a trip to the liquor store for a semi-nice bottle of wine to pair with dinner go so far left that you end up walking out with a bottle of pumpkin Pinnacle under your arm instead.
Cancer: Pumpkin Face Mask
Oh, you sensitive, crabby little homebody. As the CEO of bailing on plans, there’s no better way for you to enjoy an autumnal scent than to slather a gooey pumpkin face mask all over your head while you watch Hocus Pocus for the 90th time this month.
Leo: Pumpkin Spice Deodorant
They sell pumpkin spice deodorant? Who the hell would buy that? Oh, right. A Leo, otherwise known as the only sign with enough self-confidence to invite a stranger to sniff their pits when asked, “Wow! What smells like pumpkin?!”
Virgo: Pumpkin Spice Dish Soap
Check in on your Virgo friends. In pursuit of a fall-themed impulse purchase that would make them feel joy, they ended up going the sensible route once again and getting pumpkin dish soap at Williams Sonoma, the second most adult store left standing in the mall, besides the place that sells geriatric sneakers.
Libra: Pumpkin Spice Latte Nail Polish Set
Nothing screams “I’m a Libra!” quite like a manicure that not only matches a seasonal aesthetic, but also requires approximately zero firm decisions to be made. No one can tell me that this trend of painting every nail a different color was not created by an indecisive Libra who just slapped the four most fall colors on their nails and successfully angled it as an intentional look.
Scorpio: Pumpkin Flavored Condoms That Don’t Even Exist
Remember when the internet thought that
— Emergent (@EmergentDotInfo) February 20, 2015
pumpkin flavored condoms were a thing? ‘Twas a cursed, yet unsurprising, day in history. An intense Scorpio would totally tell people they have pumpkin flavored condoms like, six whole years after that whole debacle, because they love to have weird inside jokes with themselves while the rest of us try to figure out even a shred of information about who they really are.
Sagittarius: Pumpkin Toaster Pop
Sagittarians are always on the go, which means it’s next to impossible to see a snack labeled as individually packaged and go on with their lives. Pumpkin pie toaster pastries are exactly the kind of thing you’ll buy on a whim during a Target blackout, only to shove in your purse and never eat because you’ll realize that actually sounds disgusting as soon as you come to. Have fun picking those sticky crumbs out of the corner of your bag in three months when the packaging inevitably rips.
Capricorn: Pumpkin Spice Hummus
Capricorns love to act like they’re so organized and disciplined, as if they’re absolved from all of the questionable things they do because they wrote them down in a planner first. Just because you’ve decided that you’re not like the other girls blowing paychecks on pumpkin stuff at Trader Joe’s that they’ll throw away as soon as they taste it doesn’t mean that the pumpkin spice hummus you impulsively tossed into your cart is actually a “healthy” purchase.
Aquarius: An Apple Cinnamon Candle in a Pumpkin Jar
Aquarians will turn anything into a conspiracy theory, even something as cut and dry as America’s obsession with pumpkin flavored things. If anyone catches one of these weirdos burning an apple-scented candle that comes in a jar shaped like a pumpkin, do yourself a favor and don’t ask them about it. Unless, of course, you want to spend 15 minutes hearing some ridiculous tale about why the government’s trying to control us via pumpkin spice fumes, and the only way to stay woke is to enjoy fall through less-popular, but obviously superior, apple scented things, instead.
Pisces: Pumpkin Spice Eyeshadow Palette
Is your Pisces friend 30 minutes late to the cider tasting your friend group has planned at a nearby apple orchard? I’ll bet you $10 it’s because they’re at home watching YouTube tutorials, trying to create the perfect autumnal makeup look with a Too Faced Pumpkin Spice Palette in the name of their own “art.”
Betches may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link and purchase a product or service. The links are independently placed and do not influence editorial content.
Fall is officially here, which means I am actively looking for any and every opportunity to pour something warm and vaguely cinnamon flavored into my body. ‘Tis the season.
As someone who definitely looks like they enjoy Pumpkin Spice Lattes but actually despises Pumpkin Spice Lattes, finding new, festive fall beverages to drink is inordinately important to me. Much like oversize sweaters, scented candles, and taking pictures at pumpkin patches, cozy drinks are a tenet of fall that men will try to make you feel guilty for enjoying, which means we should only enjoy them more aggressively than ever before.
So this is how I came to find myself in the last week of October, nearly two years after the golden milk craze, deciding it was time to dive in to this bright yellow beverage that I did not understand.
There seem to be two schools of thought surrounding the origins of golden milk. I’m not entirely sure which, if either, is correct, but I can’t wait for someone to condescendingly explain it to me in the comments section mere moments after this article is published.
The first traces back to an ancient Indian beverage called Haldi Doodh, a traditional Ayurvedic medicinal recipe. At its most basic, Haldi Doodh is straight-up just milk and turmeric, and any other ingredient that makes it taste like a cup full of sweet, sweet fall were additions that came along when Western culture adopted golden milk.
The other origin, which seems more like a rumor one mommy blog started and then the rest regurgitated, is that it hails from a Japanese island called Okinawa. The people of Okinawa are reported to have some of the longest life spans in the world. And guess what?? They also drink a ton of turmeric tea, their own variant of golden milk. Therefore, it can only be ascertained that the golden milk is what’s keeping them alive this long. This is how attribution works, don’t @ me.
Either way, mixing turmeric into a glass of warm milk is a centuries-old practice hailing from Eastern culture, which meant it was only a matter of time before white people wellness enthusiasts adopted and low-key butchered it. It’s what we do best.
The health benefits to golden milk are supposedly endless, which makes me feel only slightly better about slurping down a fatty cup of spiced milk every night before bed. Turmeric gets all the credit here, boasting benefits ranging from anti-inflammation to staving off Alzheimer’s, but it’s actually curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, that’s doing all the heavy lifting.
Curcumin reduces inflammation, aids muscle and bone recovery, helps reverse liver damage, and even prevents depression. In short, it’s the cure-all for whatever drunk mess you could possibly get yourself into. Wow, you drank two bottles of red wine, fell down the stairs, and then woke up in a blind panic because you have a 45 minute 2am call to your ex in your phone log? It’s cool, curcumin has your back.
I’ve seen a lot of variants in Golden Milk recipes over the past couple days, but five ingredients seem to make the building blocks of this otherwise versatile drink: turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, and the milk (dairy-based or not) of your choice. The purists will typically stop there, but nothing is stopping you from adding cardamom, star anise, vanilla, coconut oil, almond butter, or any other mildly fall-themed ingredient to your concoction. The world is your oyster, as long as you don’t mind everything in your kitchen becoming mildly yellow tinted during the process.
First I tried out this recipe, which combined both coconut and almond milk for an extra creamy base. That, I was into. What was less enjoyable, however, was the tablespoon of coconut oil which left a greasy residue on my milk, in my mouth, and inexplicably all over my kitchen. An impassioned debate in the comments section told me that the addition of healthy fats like coconut oil aids the turmeric absorption, but I would think that the coconut milk alone should be enough to handle that.
Otherwise, this recipe was enjoyable. I used maple syrup as my sweetener and ended up loading it with ground cinnamon on top of the recommended cinnamon stick, which gave the whole thing an almost French toast vibe.
The recipe makes two servings, so I refrigerated my second cup to save for the next night. If you plan on going this route, learn from my mistakes and re-warm the golden milk on a stovetop rather than the microwave. The ingredients didn’t re-incorporate quite as well in the microwave, which made my second batch even oilier and turned the previously warm yellow into a neon mess. My mug looked like it’d been full of Cup Noodles by the time I was done.
The next recipe I found seemed a lot less traditional, but also looked a lot tastier and promised a restful night of sleep. Sold. While only using one kind of milk, this iteration allowed for the addition of vanilla and almond butter. At this point, we’re not even trying to pretend this is medicinal in anyway. We’re just drinking almond butter and we’re okay with it.
This recipe blew the first one out of the water, no questions asked. If you could condense the month of October into a drink, this is it. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? I don’t know her.
The only issue I had was that I hadn’t mixed everything together as completely as I’d thought, and the last couple sips of my drink were just straight almond butter and cinnamon. This was less of an actual “issue” and more an entirely indulgent blessing in disguise, but I’d recommend whisking aggressively before drinking if you don’t love the idea of drinking two tablespoons of melted almond butter.
While my first two forays into golden milk were enjoyable, it wasn’t until I abandoned both recipe and convention that I truly reached nirvana. On Halloween of all nights, I subbed the almond milk in the second recipe with coconut milk, and transcended into a new plane of existence. This concoction had it all: a creamy coconut milk base, the added nuttiness of almond milk, an aggressive amount of cinnamon—both stick and ground. The color combo of the various butters and spices resulted in a golden amber hue, that I honestly may use as reference when I go in for my winter hair color.
It was my own kind of turmeric enlightenment. The ultimate fall beverage. If you could take the pure energy from every leaf photo on Instagram and liquidate it, you would get this drink. Starbucks is quaking.
After five days of drinking golden milk I’m not sure if my body is less inflamed or my liver less abused, but I can tell you this: drinking these creamy, yellow concoctions before bed every night made me inordinately happy. I can’t tell if that’s a result of the anti-depressive properties of curcumin, or the indulgent nature of the drink itself, but I also don’t really care. In these dark times, when doom is looming and fascism is rising, and people still insist on giving Harvey Weinstein a platform, we need to glean any small moment of happiness that we can.
Drink the golden milk. The rest will figure itself out.
Images: Guillaume Bolduc / Unsplash; Giphy (2)
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.
1. Bulletproof Pumpkin Spice Collagen Protein Bar
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.
2. Simply Balanced Pumpkin Pie Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
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.
3. Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Pretzels
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.
4. Quest Bar Pumpkin Pie Bars
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.
5. RXBAR Pumpkin Spice Bars
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.
6. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
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.
7. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Flavored Ground Coffee
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.
8. Coffee-Mate Sugar Free Pumpkin Spice
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.
9. Halo Top Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
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.
10. Organic Protein Plant Based Protein Powder Pumpkin Spice, $19.99
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
It’s like, officially Fall today, so bring on the basic betch uniform consisting of NorthFace fleeces, Uggs, too many scarves, leggings, and the ever-present PSL. But because we literally deal with the onslaught of pumpkin everything every year, as soon as cool-ish weather hits, allow us to make a suggestion: Make a drink that’s totally autumnal WITHOUT the pumpkin flavoring.
Real talk—pumpkin is kind of a shitty flavor. It’s an odd, overly sized orange squash that people only associate with fall because a) there’s little, if any, actual produce this time of year (except you, apples), b) Halloween, and c) pumpkin pie—the only Thanksgiving dessert—is right around the corner. The issue we have here is that pumpkin on its own tastes like an old candle. It’s not sweet. It’s not really savory. It’s just kind of there. The addition of about eight cups of sugar, enough cinnamon to poison a small child, and other probs unnatural flavors make it palatable.
For these reasons, we give you a v alcoholic drink sans pumpkin anything. You’re welcome.
- 2 shots Rumchata
- 1 shot Caramel vodka
- Sea salt
- 2 tbsps caramel sauce—you can make your own OR just grab that Smuckers jar from the ice cream toppings aisle
Grab a martini glass and wet the rim with water. Dip into a plate of the sea salt, margarita style. Drizzle in your caramel sauce, so it sits in a happy puddle at the bottom of the glass.
Set aside. In a cocktail shaker, combine lots of ice with the Rumchata and vodka. Shake and strain into your salty martini glass. Chug that shit, and then go jump in a leaf pile. Or don’t and stay inside in sweatpants. Yay, Fall.
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?
So Starbucks’ quest to get away from the “basic” label continues. The beloved provider of every betches’ lifeblood (the PSL, duh) just announced the addition of a bunch of new stuff, and TBH it’s all hilariously hipster. The most obvious culprit is the Sous Vide Egg Bites, which are gluten-free and make Starbucks sound like they’re going for a Michelin star, but trust me when I say the newest drink, the cascara latte, is pretty fucking hipster too.
Let’s start with WTF cascara means. The important part of coffee is the bean (fucking duh), but first, you have to get through the fruit surrounding it—the cascara is just the outer shell. Usually, the coffee cherry is thrown away, but apparently, sometimes people dry the cascara and make some weird coffee/tea infusion out of it. Please allow me to point out that infusions are automatically +50 points on the scale of food hipsterdom.
Last week, Starbucks announced that the first new latte flavor of the year is based on this cascara infusion thing. The syrup is made of coffee cherry extract, coconut flavoring, and a fuckton of sugar, of course. Because that wasn’t hipster enough, words like “subtle” and “lightly sweet” were also tossed around with wild abandon. I remind you, this is fucking coffee, not a $500 bottle of wine.
Oh yeah, and the latte is sprinkled with a topping meant to look like a coffee bean, which is utterly pointless because it’s covered up with a lid. Will someone please tell Starbucks to stop trying so fucking hard?
The drink became available to Starbucks rewards members (so every betch ever) on January 6. Everyone else has to wait until January 10 to find out what hipster tastes like in coffee form.