PUMPKIN ‘N SPICE LATTE

Brr, there is a chill in the air. It is the last week of October and 75% of the colorful fall leaves have fallen from the trees here in Minnesota. We had a high temperature of 52 degrees today but there will be one final heatwave of this Indian summer since temperatures are predicted to be a sunny and warm 70 degrees tomorrow just in time for the weekend! We like to sit out on out front porch and sip on hot Pumpkin N Spice Lattes or hot apple cider this time of year and enjoy every minute outside that we can since we know that winter weather with cold wet snow and ice is just around the corner. On the bright side, that means Christmas is coming! Since Halloween is next week, I enjoy enjoy preparing recipes using pumpkin this time of year. Just love this latte recipe as well as pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread. I saw a recipe for pumpkin soup on a recipe blog that I would like to try. I also plan on creating a pumpkin smoothie recipe very soon since I love my breakfast smoothies!

Pumpkin ‘N Spice Latte

I tried the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte a couple of years ago and went to work in my kitchen to create a very similar tasting beverage with fewer calories and no artificial flavors or additives. The homemade version is very economical too compared to purchasing this beverage. You can expect to pay $3.00-$5.00 for one serving of this beverage at your local Mc Donalds, Starbucks or Caribou coffee. A nutritional comparison reveals that the Starbucks 12 oz Pumpkin Spice Latte using non-fat milk and 2 tablespoons of whipped cream contains 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 mg of cholesterol, 170 mg of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrate and 11 grams of protein. Made with whole milk, the calories increase to 330, as well as 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 50 mg of cholesterol. The protein and carbohydrate content remain the same when prepared with whole milk. Plan to walk for 30-60 minutes to burn this off!

Autumn Garden

PUMPKIN 'N SPICE LATTE
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 serving
 
Ingredients
  • 5 oz almond or 1% milk
  • 2 TB fresh pureed or canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 tsp granulated Stevia or 1 TB sugar or Agave Nectar
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 7 of brewed coffee
  • Topping:
  • 2 TB Reddi Whip topping or non-dairy topping such as whipped coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Place milk, coffee, vanilla or almond extract, pumpkin, sweetener and spices in a 12 oz mug. Whisk together until well combined. If desired, you may place these ingredients into your magic bullet or blender and blend until smooth and pour into your tall coffee mug. Microwave for 60-70 seconds until the beverage is hot. Spray the Reddi Whip topping on the beverage and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice if desired. Serve immediately. You may substitute ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice in place of the nutmeg and cinnamon in this recipe if desired.
Notes
The recipe was calculated using the Stevia sweetener and almond milk. Nutrition information was calculated using My Fitness Pal recipe calculator.

If desired, add 1 scoop (approximately 1 TB) of vanilla protein powder to the recipe and blend this with the other ingredients in a blender or nutribullet prior to heating to increase the protein content of the beverage.

Information in this food blog is not intended to be medical advice. Consult your personal health care provider for medical and nutritional advice for yourself.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 12 oz Calories: 111 Fat: 3 grams Saturated fat: 0.5 Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 6 grams Sodium: 79 mg Protein: 1 gram Cholesterol: 0 mg

 

Pumpkin has a very healthy nutritional profile as well. One half cup of pumpkin contains only 50 calories, 5 mg of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber. Pumpkin is very filling due to the fiber content and the thick creamy consistency. Pumpkin is a rich source of nutrients. One half cup provides 200% of the Daily Value for Vitamin A, 70% of which is beta-carotene and also provides 4% of the Daily Value for Vitamin C. Beta carotene if important for our eye and skin health and also fights some forms of cancer such as prostrate and lung cancer according to some research studies on this nutrient. Vitamin A and Vitamin C act as a cell defense squad since they are both antioxidants and act as shields for your cells against cancer causing free radicals.

We love to take fall leaf watching tours this time of year. Nature certainly shows the awesome handiwork of God in this earth! Enjoy these scenic fall photos that we shot with our camera.

Beautiful waterfalls, Minneopa Park, Mankato
Waterfalls at Minneopa State Park, Mankato, MN
Scenic Overlook of the falls at Minneopa State Park
Autumn Scene, Minneopa State Park, Mankato
Scenic Overlook of the Mississippi River, Alma Wisconsin
Beautiful Seven Mile Creek Park, north of Mankato, MN
Colorful Seven Mile Creek Park
A small creek wanders through Seven Mile Park.

 

Exploring Minneopa Park, Mankato, MN
Fall Splendor at Seven Mile Park, north of Mankato, MN
Overlooking the Mississippi river near Alma, Wisconsin
Hummingbird feeding on the flowers

 

 

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

It is beginning to look like fall here in Minnesota. The leaves on the trees are turning beautiful shades of bright yellow, red and orange. The farmers markets are selling all varieties of squash including zucchini as well as apples and baked goods. I purchased a zucchini there recently and baked a batch of moist and delicious Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies. They are easy to pack into a lunchbox or enjoy with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. I lightened up the recipe by substituting unsweetened applesauce in place of vegetable oil. This decreases the calories in the entire recipe by 960 or 60 calories per serving. The recipe yields 16 brownies. I also added 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed to the recipe to increase the fiber content and add extra texture to the recipe. You may substitute margarine or coconut oil if desired in place of butter in this recipe to reduce the cholesterol and saturated fat content of the recipe. Coconut oil is higher in saturated fat than the margarine but is till considered heart healthy unless it is hydrogenated.

I usually do not frost these brownies since they taste very good without the frosting. I was baking some cupcakes for my niece’s wedding shower and had some frosting left over so I decided to use it up by frosting these brownies. It does add some extra flavor and helps satisfy that chocolate urge that I sometimes crave.

The picture below was taken a week ago in Lansing, Iowa overlooking the Mississippi River in a park perched above this small river town. We went camping for the weekend in the area and explored the quaint river towns and gorgeous scenery in northeast Iowa and ventured across the river into Wisconsin as well. It was a fun weekend!

 

 

I used Hersheys 100% cacao dark cocoa in this recipe to improve the health benefits of using dry cocoa. The cacao dark chocolate cocoa powder is higher in antioxidant flavonoid content. Flavonoids are part of a powerful group of antioxidants known as polyphenols. Flavonoids battle disease producing free radicals in our body. Dry cocoa is very healthy, extremely low in fat content as well as a low calorie food. It can be used in baking cakes and brownies or add 2 tsp to your favorite smoothie for a chocolate flavor. It is very good when added to banana and peanut butter  smoothies. Dry cacao powder also has heart health benefits as well and may help to lower the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

 

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BROWNIES
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ⅓ cup Hershey's dry100% cacoa dark cocoa baking cocoa
  • 1⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed to remove excess liquid
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ¼ ground flaxseed
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F., or 330 degrees if using a glass pan. Lightly spray a 9 x 9 inch cake pan with non-stick spray or grease lightly with vegetable oil. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, honey, applesauce, sugar and almond extract until smooth in consistency. Combine dry ingredients, including ground flaxseed in a separate bowl and gently stir together until combined. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until well combined.Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds if desired to the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan Bake for 35-40 minutes until done or until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the brownies cool off before cutting.
  2. Dark Chocolate Frosting: ¼ cup ( ½ stick) butter, ⅓ cup Hershey's dark cacao dry cocoa powder, 1 cup powdered sugar, ¼ cup 1% milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract
  3. Melt butter in a small glass bowl the microwave. Stir in cocoa.Alternately add the powdered sugar and the milk, beating to a spreading consistency.Stir in vanilla. Makes one cup of frosting.
  4. Spread cooled brownies with the frosting.
Notes
if you do not frost the brownies, the nutritional value per brownie is as follows: 179 calories, 6 grams total fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 1 gram unsaturated fat, 0 grams trans fats, 27 mg cholesterol, 127 mg sodium, 29 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber and 4 grams protein.

The information presented in this food blog is not intended to provide medical advice. Contact your personal health care professional for medical and nutritional advice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/16 of recipe Calories: 221 Fat: 7 grams Saturated fat: 4 grams Unsaturated fat: 1 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 37 Sodium: 135 mg Fiber: 2 grams Protein: 4 grams Cholesterol: 29 mg

 

The picture below shows one of the many historic buildings in Lansing, Iowa.

Overlooking the Mississippi River in Ferryville, Wisconsin
The Clear Stream in Lansing, Iowa. Great trout fishing stream.
Exploring the campground.
Relaxing around the camp fire at the campground near Lansing, Iowa.