Anyone who knows me knows that I love this time of year.
I am very basic when it comes to fall. Fall decorations, fall clothing (even when it’s still 90 degrees out because I live in the South), and fall festivals.
I am especially in love with Pumpkin Spice Lattes from a certain coffee chain. They introduced the drink around the time I was an undergraduate in Boston. I had to pass this chain on my way to classes every day so when I discovered this delicious beverage, I made sure to grab one every day before heading to class.
I know that this is probably where a bulk of my college weight came from. That and the peppermint mocha drink that follows for the holidays. I really couldn’t resist the two.
I think because I had fond memories of undergraduate, Boston falls, and this drink – it’s a little cup of nostalgia every year. When I was pregnant, I started craving the drink in early August. Every couple of days I would comment how much I wished it was PSL time. I know I drove Ash and my mother nuts with how much I was talking about the drink.
When it finally debuted Labor Day Weekend I bought my first cup of the season and a cute reusable mug to show off my love. Because it was my major pregnancy craving, especially towards the end, I insisted on including it in my weekly bump photos. I joked that I was basting Jai in nutmeg.
If he craves pumpkin spice or hates it, it’s my fault.
Pumpkin Spice Drought
But when I quit sugar around this time last year, I had to give up my beloved fall drink. Unfortunately, no matter how I tried to order it, coffee shops found ways to sneak in sugar. In the sauce and in the milk (sugar is the third ingredient in their coconut milk). I found that I reacted the same way to the sugar-free mixes as I do with the full-sugar, which is to say I get headaches, neck pain, and nausea. I also hate the aftertaste sweeteners give a drink or food item.
I went the entire year without my PSL. I made it through, but it didn’t feel like fall for me because it was the first time in 10+ years where I didn’t have the drink at least once.
I didn’t want to go a second year without it. It wasn’t that I was craving it as much as it was wanting it for nostalgia reasons. Fall is my season and if I went another year without really embracing the season I was going to feel a little sad. I know it sounds melodramatic, but I found that the holidays didn’t feel the same because I didn’t experience fall like I normally do.
I tried a couple recipes for making the drink at home and while they were good, they didn’t quite have the flavor I was looking for. I tried coconut sugar, I tried straight maple syrup, but it wasn’t that perfect blend of sweet and spice. I didn’t want to make the drink too sweet, as that was a complaint I actually had of the original, and I had to find the right kind of sweetener that didn’t add flavor.
My mom suggested using xylitol. Xylitol is a wonderful sweetener because it melts like sugar and can function 1:1 with sugar. If you are watching your sugar intake for personal reasons or due to diabetes, it’s a suggested alternative to sugar cane.
I do find it can taste a little sweeter than sugar, but that may just be me. It’s a little pricey, so I don’t use it as much as I do maple syrup, coconut sugar, or applesauce in my baking. But for a drink such as this, it’s a great substitute because you can use as much or as little as you want.
I also threw in some maple syrup because I wanted to thin the sauce a bit, but also add a bit of that New England flavor I love. Below you will find my personal recipe for the Pumpkin Spice Sauce to add to your latte or morning coffee.
I used greater proportions so you can make it in bulk rather than one drink at a time.
“Sugar-Free” Pumpkin Spice Sauce
Serving Size: Sauce recipe makes 3 – 4 lattes depending on preference
Ingredients – Pumpkin Spice Sauce
1/4 Cup pure pumpkin puree
1/4 Cup xylitol
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon pumpkin spice
3 Tablespoons vanilla extract (optional)
Add in more xylitol by the teaspoon if you want a sweeter mix. I like to add in the vanilla extract because it adds a bit more depth to the flavor, but not necessary if you aren’t a vanilla fan.
- Combine all the ingredients in a sealable container. Mix well. You want a slightly thinner mix than the straight pumpkin puree. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Before using the sauce in your drink, make sure you mix well. The pumpkin puree separates from the water in the fridge.
Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte
Serving Size: 1 12 oz Drink
3 – 4 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Spice Sauce (to preference)
2 oz hot espresso (or strong coffee of choice)
1 Cup warm macadamia nut milk – unsweetened & plain
Xylitol or Maple Syrup (optional)
- Pour espresso in a mug. Mix in Pumpkin Spice Sauce. Add more sauce to make a stronger flavor or sweetener of choice to make sweeter.
- Pour over with warm macadamia milk. Mix.
- If you have a frother, froth up some milk to top the drink. Otherwise, serve and enjoy.
- I like to use macadamia milk because it adds very little flavor to the drink, something other dairy-alternative milks do. It’s also thicker than the other milks I’ve encountered so it’s closer to cow’s milk in consistency.
- While it is higher in calories per cup than almond or coconut milk (about 5-10 more calories), macadamia milk it has significantly less saturated fat than coconut milk (3% to coconut’s 20%).
- Compared to whole cow’s milk, there is a 100 calorie difference per cup. Whole milk also has 25% saturated fat and 11% cholesterol.
- Sub in the dairy milk of choice if you don’t want to make the drink vegan.
1 Serving: Calories 70; Fat: 5g; Sat. Fat: 1g; Protein: 1g; Fiber: 1g
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Featured photo credit: Michelle Melton Photography