Are You Crazy For Pumpkin Spice?
We seem to fall into two camps. There is a growing number of people who look forward to Pumpkin Spice Season as eagerly as summer vacation or baseball. Then there are the people who are either blissfully indifferent, or just plain sick of hearing about all the new pumpkin spice flavored products, from ice cream and cookies to mac and cheese and bologna.
As always, when something becomes a fad, it often gets a little over exposed. That’s no reason to blame the quintessential combination of pumpkin and warming spices, especially when it comes in its original pie-shaped form. The thing that bothers me is the way that manufacturers take a good thing (mmm, pie!) and make it into a fake thing (non-dairy creamer with artificial flavors.) Most of these foods and drinks have ZERO pumpkin and ZERO spice. It’s all Fake.
Real Pumpkin Spice is Best!
So, as your Plant Based Chef and real foods enthusiast, I wanted to share an easy to make, foamy, fragrant latte that contains ACTUAL pumpkin and spices. It takes a few minutes longer to make than pouring bottled chemicals in a cup, but it’s worth it.
Then, for a crazy, radical riff on pumpkin spice, I’m sharing my favorite pumpkin spice chili. Cubed, meaty-textured kabocha squash stands in for pumpkin (which is usually not pumpkin) and the spices we use in pumpkin pie accompany cumin and jalapeno for a nuanced, playful take on chili.
Watch the video to learn a safe and easy way to peel and cube winter squash, for a nice, chunky texture in the chili. Then it’s easy to cook it like any other vegetable in the chili with spices. I prefer Kabocha, but you can use whatever squash you have.
Don’t Hate Pumpkin Spice
As much as we love to take potshots at some of the more absurd products, only the Grinch can really claim to hate pumpkin pie, and all the really good things that taste like it. These days, there is plenty to argue about, and let’s face it, we all need a little comfort. If a hot latte that reminds you of Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house will help, by all means, have one. Have two!
Happy Pumpkin Spice Season, everyone!
Pumpkin Spice Latte
- 1/2 cup ground coffee
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups non-dairy milk preferably a "barista" or coffee shop blend
- 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin or squash
- 1/2 cup organic sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Brew the coffee with the 2 cups water, in an espresso pot or drip coffee maker. Keep warm
- Meanwhile,in a large saucepan, combine the milk, pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. Cook and stir over medium heat until steaming. Transfer to a blender and blend on high until foamy, about a minute. Divide coffee among five mugs and pour in pumpkin mixture.
Pumpkin Spice Chili with Pumpkinseed Garnish
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds kabocha or red kuri squash, preferably other squash works, too
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 large jalapeno chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
- 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes and their juices
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 15 ounce can black beans with their liquids
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro torn
- 1/2 cup shelled pumpkinseeds (pepitas)
- Pour the olive oil into a large pot and place over medium-high heat for a few seconds, then add the onions. Saute, lowering the heat as the onions start to sizzle. Cook over low heat for at least 5 minutes.
- Add the squash cubes and stir. Raise the heat to medium high and stir for another 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic, jalapeno, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cumin,and salt. Stir for a minute, then add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, and black beans and their liquids. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the squash is tender when pierced with a paring knife.Uncover and let simmer until slightly thickened. Serve sprinkled with cilantro and toasted pumpkinseeds.
- While the chili cooks, place the pumpkinseeds in a small skillet and swirl over high heat until the seeds start to pop. Sprinkle with salt, transfer to a bowl to cool.