So, last week on the ABC World News telecast there was a hard-hitting story on the topic of whether we have too many pumpkin-flavored foods. I have two responses to that:
- What an idiotic story for a nightly newscast. Seriously, even Diane Sawyer looked embarrassed introducing it.
- No, we absolutely do not have too many fall foods.
I recently went on a fall-food-buying bonanza at my local Trader Joe’s and would like to report back on some of my vegetarian finds. Even if you don’t like pumpkin, there is something here for you… but probably not these first few items.
1. Pumpkin Spice Coffee
I have to admit that I’m not generally a fan of pumpkin spice coffee and this was no exception. This is better than some types I’ve tried, and the coffee itself is strong and tasty, but the sweet aftertaste of cinnamon and nutmeg did not blend well to me. With milk and sugar, things mellow out… but I don’t usually take sweetener in my morning coffee so I’d call this a miss. However, if you are someone who prefers sweet coffee drinks perhaps you should try it for yourself. The roommate loves it, so it fits someone’s tastes! ($7.99, 14 oz.)
2. Country Pumpkin Spice Granola
This was an unexpected win, since I don’t often buy granola. But an in-store sample of this granola with some vanilla yogurt sold me. The granola is sweet, rich, and filling and in addition to the pumpkin flavors and real pumpkin bits, it includes raisins and honey (so, sadly, not vegan-friendly). Mixed in with yogurt, it tastes amazing and makes a filling snack or dessert. It’s also delicious on its own. ($2.49, 16 oz. and 210 calories for a 2/3 cup serving)
3. Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix
This is just plain delicious. What else can I say? Essentially it’s pumpkin pie batter that comes in dry form and you mix it up with egg, butter, and milk. The huge caveat, though, is that this isn’t health food. Take a look at the label and you’ll see that the final product is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Even worse, the ingredient label gives data for a 1/3 serving size of mix, but preparation calls for 1 cup of mix. If you follow those directions, then, you end up with a whopping 900 calories of pancakes. I found that 1/2 cup of mix (essentially, 1.5 servings) makes a filling meal, but still not a healthy one. Buy this, but use it only as an occasional treat! ($2.99 for a 21.1 oz. box, 300 calories for the recommended 1/3 cup serving)
4. Spiced Apple Cider
Finally, something for the non-pumpkin people out there. This cider is a must have, flavored with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. The spiced taste is not overwhelming, and if you’re like me you may want to add some freshly grated cinnamon or a spoonful of honey. Warmed, this cider makes a great after dinner drink or a substitute for coffee and tea. It will also promote good digestion, thanks to the fiber and cinnamon content. ($2.99 for 64 oz., 130 calories per 8 oz. serving)
5. Acorn Squash
This is one you can enjoy even if you’re not near a Trader Joe’s, though Trader Joe’s does carry a wide variety of squashes this time of year. Acorn squash is easy to prepare and versatile. It can be used in pies, as a puree, and hollowed out it makes a great edible bowl. Martha Stewart’s website has a great primer on acorn squash, so don’t be afraid to try this! I used one half of the squash to make baked wedges drizzled with cinnamon butter and served with nutty manchego cheese, which complimented the dish perfectly. What did I do with the other half? You’ll find out in a future post! (Prices and sizes vary, check out the selection at a store near you)