The pumpkin craze is at an all time high. The food industry has been keeping up with the demands to pumpkin-ize almost everything from Pop Tarts and bread to yogurt and coffee. While it's increasingly becoming an obsession all year round, pumpkin is truly in season from September to November.
Pumpkin is a type of squash with a bright orange color that comes from it's rich source of beta-carotene. Beta carotene is an important flavonoid compound with antioxidant properties. Our bodies convert beta carotene into Vitamin A which aids vision and supports eye health. Pumpkins are also a great source of fiber, potassium (1 cup of cooked pumpkin has more potassium than a banana!) and Vitamin C.
However, just because a food is pumpkin flavored, it does not mean that you will receive the same health benefits. In fact, many flavored foods are often artificially flavored, high in sugar, and offer little to no nutritional value.
We've rounded up a few of the healthier pumpkin-flavored food options to get your pumpkin fix:
Siggi's Pumpkin & Spice 2% Yogurt: With real ingredients, 14 grams of protein, and less sugar than most, this yogurt is good grab. Even better, buy a plain Greek yogurt and stir in canned pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
Kashi Crunchy Granola Bars Pumpkin Spice Flax: Crunchy and satisfying, these bars are lower in sugar and more portion controlled than grabbing a few handfuls of granola.
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (Modified): While making your own version at home with pumpkin flavored coffee is probably your best bet, every once and a while a little help from Starbucks won't hurt. Just ask your barista to use non-fat milk, hold the whipped cream, and use only one pump of syrup for a grande size. These small changes can save calories and about 13 grams of fat (8 g of which are saturated!).
Pumpkin Bagels: While neither are 100% whole wheat, Trader Joe's and Thomas' are two of the best options if you're craving a pumpkin bagel. While they do not have much fiber (2 grams fiber per bagel), they are portion controlled and contain 8-9 grams of protein per serving. Another option: Buy the 100% whole wheat versions of these brands and spread them with low-fat cream cheese, a light spread of real pumpkin butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon!
Pumpkin Puffins Cereal: Barbara's Puffins are lower in sugar, has real pumpkin in the ingredient list, and is only 110 calories per serving.
Slow Churned Dreyer's Pumpkin Patch Ice Cream: Not exactly a nutrient packed snack, but it's one of the better options with half the calories and fat and less sugar than other competing brands.
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