On My Plate: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

Well, hello, everyone! My word it’s been a little while since my last blog. I would say “things have been busy”, but aren’t they always?! Anyway, I have so much to share with you. But in an effort to keep today’s blog from being novel-length, I’m going to start with a recent story and then in the subsequent weeks backlog to some really awesome and interesting things I have to share with you!

As the summer is starting to slowly fade away, my favorite time of year is just around the corner. I swear I can smell autumn in the air. It’s that crisp smell and feeling in the air that is there, especially towards the end of summer. The leaves are turning, it’s darker out earlier, and the windows are open. Soon we’ll be surrounded by bales of hay, pumpkins, cider, apples, fire pits, roasts, stews…and BAKED GOODS.

And something that I always look forward to – the Pumpkin Spice Latte from both big and little chain coffee shops. But, to my dismay, when I went to splurge and purchase my FIRST pumpkin latte of the season yesterday, it tasted SO bad. I had it prepared as I always do, but something was terribly off. It wasn’t sweet in the least, and it was just too “savory.” The mix or something was just wrong. I don’t think it was the barista’s fault, either, as she’s worked at this particular location forever and I have had lattes she has made before. I was SO disappointed, though. Talk about your first world problem; I swear I nearly cried (which is equally as ridiculous as a bad latte).  Trivial as this may sound, I was upset for several reasons. 1) I had been looking forward to this “treat”, as these days I don’t indulge as much as I used to, especially on high-calorie beverages. 2) I didn’t really need to spend the $3+ on a tall specialty coffee and then not even drink it. 3) Because I was so excited about my “treat” initially, when I was left unsatisfied I felt like the rest of the day was spent trying to find something to eat or drink to fill that void. That may sound ridiculous, but you’re talking to someone who has done a lot of soul searching on eating and weight issues (and more people go through this weird phenomena than you may realize). So, ‘twas a disappointing morning.

But then I thought, “Hey, I bet I could make my own pumpkin latte at home. And I bet I could make it healthier and cheaper than coffee shops.” Why hadn’t I thought about making my own before? So last night, I did just that. I made my own pumpkin “syrup”, and this morning, voila, my own homemade pumpkin latte that was WAY lower in calories, much higher in flavor (and personal gratification), and way less in money spent. Here’s the recipe (which I modified from this girl) – try it out for yourself and ditch the chain coffee shops that sell you a sugary, carb-loaded, high-caloric beverage that doesn’t contain ANY real pumpkin anyway.

For the syrup:
1/3 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves (scoop them out once the syrup has cooled)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep syrup from burning.

Let mixture cook together until it becomes syrup-y and begins to coat the spoon (for about 10-15 minutes), then remove from heat.

Refrigerate in a heatproof container. The syrup will thicken a bit in the refrigerator, but will become syrup-y again when heated.

To make pumpkin spice latte, heat syrup with your choice of milk (whatever amounts you like of each). Whisk until frothy, for about ten seconds (to make it thick and prevent the pumpkin from settling on the bottom). Pour into cup and stir in about 1/2 cup or more of strong, hot coffee.

Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or nutmeg. Enjoy!

Food: Let’s talk about okra, the crispy and yummy green veggie that most people eat either fried or pickled (no judgment here, yum!) – it’s so delicious and you can do so much with it. But did you know that you can just eat it raw? I’m sure people do and have forever, but I had never heard of such a thing. A friend of mine went to a local farmer’s market where Mr. Farmer himself told her all about enjoying okra in it’s rawest form. So, I tried it. SO GOOD! It gives you that crunchy sensation without being in the form of chips. And it’s super good for you – something like 30 calories for 8 okra pods. Something else Mr. Farmer told her – you can make pesto out of the top of carrots! Take those green delights and behold – another base for another yummy pesto.

Homestead: Exciting news from the garden! Over the last week or so our tomatoes (both the cherry and beefsteaks) have really taken off! I’ve picked bowls and bowls full of cherry tomatoes, and several of the beefsteaks, a couple of which I’ve let turn red a little more by sitting in our kitchen window. And don’t get me started on our corn – SO MUCH CORN. Our squashes are blossoming and totally taking off; I can’t wait to pick them in another couple of months. The sweet potato tower flowers are still crisp and green so we’re not yet ready to dig up those bad boys. BUT, we did harvest our regular potatoes – check out our sweet harvest!

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