Enjoy the benefits of pumpkin spice — just hold the latte

Remember the good, old days when we only used “pumpkin spice” when baking pumpkin pie?

McCormick Spices of Baltimore, Maryland, started selling pumpkin spice (a blend of allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg) back in 1934 as a short-cut for bakers. And about 95 percent of the mix’s sales occur between September and December each year.

But fast food purveyors and processed food manufacturers recently caught onto the seasonal appeal and turned it into an absolute craze.

In fact, right from the start, pumpkin spice lattes became the No. 1 seasonal seller for Starbucks, racking up 350 million cups sold worldwide since they were introduced in 2013. And at their ridiculously high prices, the pumpkin spice latte is more than a billion-dollar product.

I now also see all kinds of processed foods and personal products made with “pumpkin spice,” including:

  • Almonds
  • Beer
  • Candles
  • Cereal
  • Coffee creamer
  • Dog treats
  • English muffins
  • Hand soap
  • Ice cream
  • Kale chips
  • Lip gloss
  • Liqueur

Part of the allure stems from the short selling season, which creates an artificial sense of scarcity and drives people to consume more of something they feel they can’t get year-round (a property called “reactance”).

But in my view, we’ve clearly corrupted the substance and symbolism of this traditional harvest flavoring. And there’s no logical reason pumpkin spice should be incorporated into any of those products.

Of course, these spices do have significant health benefits when used all by themselves. My advice is to just use the real spices…and skip the pricey lattes and other processed products.

The health benefits of these popular seasonal spices

For example, cinnamon has been shown to help improve blood sugar control. And I’ve often recommended sprinkling it straight onto your coffee.

And new research shows that ginger — along with three other natural botanical remedies — can safely and effectively support healthy blood sugar levels. (The research on ginger and its effects on blood sugar are so substantial, I’m featuring it as a star ingredient in my new blood sugar formula, Core Metabolic FX.)

In addition, nutmeg can help relieve pain, soothe digestion, boost the brain, balance the immune system, relieve insomnia, and support healthy blood circulation. It’s even been studied for its activity against leukemia.

And pumpkin itself has a long history of medicinal use — especially among Native Americans, as I explained earlier this month.

So, don’t get caught up in the pumpkin spice craze. You can enjoy these delicious seasonal favorites anytime you want. You can even make your own blend of pumpkin spice.

Just mix these spices together in a small mixing bowl:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Keep the spices in a sealed container to retain their freshness. You can also grind your own fresh nutmeg kernels and cinnamon from sticks. Then, sprinkle them on your coffee or whole-grain, steel-cut oatmeal whenever you like. Or use them to make pumpkin pie this fall with my recipe for fresh pumpkin.