Although summer officially ends September 22, fall is already in the air thanks to the arrival of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte in coffee shops nationwide today.
The illustrious drink (which boasts its own Twitter and Tumblr) is a beloved autumn tradition for many people as back-to-school season kicks off. And for good reason: The fragrant mix of spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg along with frothy milk and a dollop of whipped cream to top it off make for one delicious coffee drink.
And sure, it’s more of a dessert nutrition-wise (the standard grande version, made with 2 percent milk and whipped cream, packs in 380 calories, 13g fat, and 49g sugars), yet there’s nothing wrong with starting the day with a beverage that's reminiscent of pumpkin pie a few times this fall, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., author of Read It Before You Eat It. "There's something comforting about the fall flavors that brings up homey and cozy feelings, especially when it's chilly outside," she says.
Just be smart about your order. If you downsize to a tall, opt for nonfat milk, and ditch the whip cream, you'll still enjoy all the pumpkin flavors for only 200 calories, 0g fat, and 37g sugars. Order a short, and you'll slash even more calories. You could also ask your barista to sprinkle the pumpkin spice on top of your usual nonfat latte or coffee, Taub-Dix suggests.
While this drink shouldn't become your morning go-to with that much sugar, it does have some nutritional value with 40 percent of your daily calcium needs and 11g of satiating protein in a tall, says Taub-Dix. So It's still a better choice than downing a pumpkin muffin or cookie, which have zero added nutritional value.
Looking for tasty fall recipes that actually include pumpkin? We have you covered with 20 ways to sneak pumpkin into any meal, 10 delicious ways to cook pumpkin, and a healthier homemade version of the PSL that's as easy as (pumpkin) pie to make.