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Whether you’re ready for it or not, pumpkin spice season is upon us and clearly the flavor du jour.A bounty of pumpkin spice foods started lining grocery store shelves in September (too early in IMO), from pumpkin Twinkies and pumpkin spice cream cheese to pumpkin-flavored cereal.And it’s hard not to think about (and be tempted by) the drink that started it all: the notorious Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.While the sweet, warm mix of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg is certainly enticing, many of these seasonal products are nutritional landmines sullied with excessive amounts of sugars, additives and questionable fats.
But don’t give up, pumpkin pie fans. The “unofficial flavor of fall” has worked its way into several products that are not so nutritionally suspect and can support your cooler weather training. From breakfast options to snack foods and beyond, here are some of the best pumpkin spice foods and drinks for athletes. ‘Tis the season, right?
The Best Pumpkin Spice Foods: Fall 2022
Nuttzo Pumpkin Spice
Think of this limited edition spread as nut butter on steroids. It’s made with a shrewd mix of cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, flax and chia seeds for a big dose of healthy fats and plant-based protein. The ingenious upside-down jar allows you to easily stir in the separated oils. Beyond smearing on your morning toast, you can blend into smoothies or thin it with some milk and maple syrup for a delicious pancake drizzle.
Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Pumpkin Spice
Made from grass-fed and pasture-raised beef bone broth, each scoop of this pumpkin spiced flavored powder delivers 18 grams of protein to support muscle recovery and growth. It’s a source of collagen peptides that may improve joint and skin health. In addition to post-training smoothies, you can use this powder in your coffee (it dissolves well) and fall baking.
Bobo’s Pumpkin Spice Bar
These tender oat-based and undeniably delicious bars are like having comfort food in your bike jersey pocket. At 320 calories, each gluten-free bar has enough energy to help you keep up the pace and we give the product bonus points for sneaking in real pumpkin.
Siggi’s Skyr Pumpkin and Spice Yogurt
Think of this as the cozy sweater of the yogurt world. Each container of this ultra-thick yogurt supplies 15 grams of protein to show your muscles some love and the pumpkin puree is rich in beneficial carotenoid antioxidants. The live cultures can help athletes maintain a healthy gut microbiome which might be essential for better health and performance. There is also less added sugar in each spoonful than other pumpkin-spiced flavored yogurts on the market.
LesserEvil Organic Popcorn Pumpkin Spice
It’s guaranteed that you’ll be eating this seasonal flavored popcorn out of the bag by the generous handful. Containing notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, this is snack food well suited to late-season Netflix binges or post-workout sweet-crunchy cravings.
Elmhurst Oat Creamer Pumpkin Spice
Add creamy richness to coffee, hot cocoa or even oatmeal with this low-fat plant-only creamer made from oat milk and hemp cream. One of the only options on the market with no added emulsifiers or oils and a special processing method preserves more of the nutrition of the base ingredients.
Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Cinnamon Ancient Grain Granola
Rise and dine on a fall-festive crunchy bowl of oats, seeds and the ancient grains amaranth and quinoa from Purely Elizabeth. With a fairly modest 6 grams of added sugar in a serving, it’s lower in the sweet stuff than many other options on store shelves. For a power-packed breakfast or recovery bowl, stir some pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice into Greek or Skyr yogurt and top with this granola and chopped apple or pear. Great over ice cream, too.
Simple Mills Pumpkin Pancake & Waffle Mix
This convenient mix is made with almond flour instead of much less nutritious white flour as well as real pumpkin and organic spices. Each serving has a good balance of fat, protein and carbs. The same can’t be said for what you may get at the local IHOP. Serve up a stack and you’ll want to throw on a flannel and jump in a pile of leaves. Cook up extras to have on hand in the fridge that you can serve slathered with nut butter and jam for some quick pre-workout fuel.
Rx Bar Pumpkin Spice
These seasonal bars are made with ingredients you would generally find in your own kitchen including dates, almonds and pumpkin, and they have a texture of chewy caramel. Egg whites are a genius whole food approach to boosting protein numbers – 12 grams in each bar. Great for powering your fall training or epic leaf-raking sessions. Bonus: no added sugars, which is very rare in the energy bar world.
Oats Overnight Pumpkin Spice
These overnight oats are your answer to an ultra-quick breakfast or pre-workout nosh that is perfect for those crisp fall mornings. Each packet is filled with whole-grain oats, 20 grams of plant-based protein, pumpkin powder, nutrient-dense seeds and warming spices for a nearly complete nutrition package. Just add your milk of choice and let soak overnight.
La Colombe Pumpkin Spice Draft Latte
Most pumpkin spice coffee drinks are a calorie and sugar bomb. With a more agreeable 100 calories, 6 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein, this ready-to-go pumpkin-infused latte in a can will perk up your workouts with a caffeine jolt without nearly as much of a nutrition sucker punch.
Republic of Tea Organic Golden Pumpkin Tea Bags
As sweater weather arrives, take a bite out of the chill by curling up with a steamy mug of this organic herbal tea blend of rooibos, turmeric and cinnamon. Made using leaves from a shrub called Aspalathus linearis that is usually grown on the western coast of South Africa, rooibos has been shown to possess strong antioxidant activity which could help athletes adapt better to the rigors of training. The tea is caffeine free so a great option for hydrating at night.
Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds
Roasted almonds are seasoned with real pumpkin and the spices you love in this can of pure salty-sweet snacking satisfaction. Use them to spice up your oatmeal or DIY trail mix.
Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie Pumpkin Spice
Athletes always seem to be fans of cookies, and this plant-based cookie definitely delivers for taste and texture. These soft-baked morsels offer up 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of satiating fiber per half cookie (and yes, that is the serving size you should struggle to keep to – that is, unless you just crushed some huge mileage). It’s a limited edition flavor, though, so grab a few while you can.
Clio Greek Yogurt Bar Pumpkin Spice
These creamy refrigerated yogurt bars are filled with pumpkin spice-flavored Greek yogurt and covered in a decadent dark chocolate shell. In other words, the ideal crave-smashing treat. With 9 grams of protein in each bar, you’ll be tempted to smash one or two after a solid workout.
La Terra Fina Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip
Move over, hummus, this velvety-smooth dessert dip made with Neufchatel cheese, pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt is ready to welcome apple slices, crackers and tortilla chips when a hard workout has left you jonesing for something creamy, crunchy and sweet all at once.
Chamberlain Coffee Sneaky Bat Pumpkin Spice Blend
These organic coffee beans are the definition of a seasonal pick-me-up if there ever was one. With tasting notes of cocoa and cinnamon, you’ll be eager to brew up cups well into snowflake season. The coffee is available in both whole bean and ground varieties.
Chosen Foods Pumpkin Spice Avocado Oil Spray
This is the product you didn’t think you needed but will end up reaching for often. You can spritz this cooking oil into a frying pan, muffin tray or waffle maker to infuse anything you are cooking like pancakes with a hint of pumpkin spice flavor. Or use it as a coating for a heap of mixed nuts or even cubes of sweet potato that you’ll roast in the oven. With a high smoke point and lofty levels of heart-helping monounsaturated fat, avocado oil is one of the best and underappreciated cooking oils around.
Simply Organic Pumpkin Spice
From oatmeal to smoothies to muffins to pancakes to roasted squash, whenever you want to infuse something with pumpkin spice flavor reach for a jar of this aromatic mixture of organic cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove. Pro tip: sprinkle some of the spice mixture into your own brewed coffee to sidestep the nutritional baggage that sullies most pumpkin spice drinks at coffee shops.
Bonus Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Energy Balls
These great balls of energy will help power you through your day and workouts.
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1/2 cup rolled oats or rye flakes
- 1/2 cup pecans or almonds
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup coconut flakes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or (1/2 teaspoon cinnamon,1/2 teaspoon ginger powder,1/4 tsp nutmeg,1/4 tsp ground cloves)
- Pinch of salt
Place dates in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Let soak for 15 minutes, then drain.
Place the pecans or almonds and oats into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add in the rest of the ingredients, including the soaked dates. Blend until mixture clumps together.
Use your hands to form the dough into 1-inch balls. You should get about 12 balls. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.