Food and Nutrition

This Dietitian’s Low-Sugar, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew Is the Definition of Cozy

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Photo: Stocksy/Jeff Wasserman
For all the lamenting we may do about the end of summer and all of its sun-kissed glory, there is a very clear (even if clichéd) silver lining to the departure of long, cloudless days. It comes in a cup, costs more than any reasonable cup of coffee probably should, and has spawned numerous adaptations. The fall favorite, friends, has once again found us: the pumpkin spice latte.

But because it’s 2021 and we’ve all grown a little older and wiser this last year, we’ve found a way to elevate the not-so-humble pumpkin spice latte into something a bit more sophisticated and health-forward. Enter the early-fall, slightly-cooler cousin of the PSL known as the pumpkin cream cold brew. Slightly sweet, packed with punchy pumpkin flavor, and easy to make at home, this may just be the new drink of the season.

First introduced to Starbucks’ menu in 2019, pumpkin cream cold brew is a vanilla syrup-spiked cold brew coffee with a super creamy topping of pumpkin spice foam. And while the Starbucks version is delicious, it's also a bit high in sugar and additives. Here, we have a recipe for you that has all the creamy, cozy fall vibes with some health advantages to boot.

The recipe comes from Chicago-based dietitian Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD of Once Upon a Pumpkin, who (as her blog name suggests) is an expert on all-things winter squash. “If you need another reason to put pumpkin in everything this time of year, you can feel good knowing it's truly a fall superfood bursting with nutrition,” she says. “It's packed with vitamin A thanks to its beautiful orange hue, plus pumpkin is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber.”

This, Michalczyk explains, makes pumpkin a great food for strengthening your immune system and helping your body fight infections. Studies have suggested that folks with a vitamin A deficiency may have a weaker immune system than those getting plenty of the nutrient in their diet. Vitamin C also helps your body produce more white blood cells, which makes your immune system stronger and improves your body’s recovery capabilities. Finally, potassium. This mineral helps your body maintain necessary fluid balance and blood pressure, in addition to aiding in muscle contraction.

“What I love most about pumpkin—in addition to how nutritious it is—is how versatile it can be,” Michalczyk says. Whether you’re interested in straight pumpkin puree, prefer the squash in a pie form, or would rather have it in a savory preparation (try a pumpkin chili or curry for a warm weather hug), there are endless possibilities.

But before you start cooking up one of the many delicious ways to serve pumpkin for dinner, you'll need some caffeine. Here to quell your pumpkin cravings is Michalczyk’s fabulous pumpkin cream cold brew recipe that is nutrient-packed and perfect for fall.

A dietitian's healthy pumpkin cream cold brew recipe

Ingredients
1 cup oat milk
1 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp pumpkin spice or cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 cup cold brew coffee or iced coffee
Sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

Instructions
1. In a small saucepan, combine the oat milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and salt over low to medium heat. Whisk to combine until the ingredients are fully incorporated; it should be slightly steaming but not boiling.

2. Remove the oat milk mixture from heat and pour into a glass or bowl. Refrigerate for five to 10 minutes.

3. After it's been chilled, add the liquid to a milk frother (or use a hand-held wand) to froth the milk mixture until it's very frothy.

4. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the foamed milk mixture over a glass that contains 1 cup cold brew and a handful of ice. Top with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, and enjoy. (You'll have extra pumpkin foam leftover—lucky you. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a day but may need to be re-frothed.)

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