Recipes: A Healthier Pumpkin Spice Latte

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins

I’m not quite sure how long pumpkin spice lattes have been a ‘thing’ in Ireland, but I only tried my first one a couple of weeks ago in Starbucks. I loved the idea of the warming pumpkin spices infusing with the deep coffee flavour. I joined the Starbucks queue (which was so long it was out the door!) and excitedly anticipated walking around on that cool, crisp autumnal day with my comforting pumpkin-spice latte in hand.

Unfortunately my expectation was a little different from the reality. I found the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte to be sickeningly sweet – this coming from someone who likes sweet coffee! I was intrigued to learn what was actually in their now famous autumnal latte. The Starbucks ingredients were changed this year to include some real pumpkin and to remove the artificial caramel colouring.  Definitely a step in the right direction. The current ingredients (as of October 2015) are listed as follows;

  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Pumpkin Spice Flavoured Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% or Less of Fruit and Vegetable Juice for Color, Natural Flavours, Annatto (Color), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt)
  • Whipped Cream (Light Whipping Cream [Cream, Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan])
  • Starbucks Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavours, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid)
  • Pumpkin Spice Topping (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove)

As you can see (and taste!) the Starbucks version contains quite a lot of sugar as well as flavourings, colourings and preservatives. Mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, which often contain trans fats, are also included. The Starbucks version contains the controversial ‘natural’ ingredient carrageenan too. In short it is quite a processed product.

I wondered if I could make a ‘cleaner’, more wholesome pumpkin spice latte that I could enjoy and share with family and friends. Below you will find my take on the pumpkin spice latte!

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
So delicious and absolutely zero colourings, refined sugars, flavourings, preservatives, synthetic chemicals or trans fats in my pumpkin spice latte recipe.

This is a wonderful drink which would go down very well at any Halloween brunch, lunch or dinner party and makes for a delicious coffee break with a slice of Irish Halloween brack. You could even sneak in a shot of whiskey for an after-dinner Irish twist! It is the perfect winter-warmer.

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
Halloween Brack

Here are some of the ingredients I have included in my pumpkin-spice latte;

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
Coffee beans! I got these strong-flavoured coffee beans in Sawer’s Belfast.
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
I chose to use Organic whole milk for my latte – I picked this up in Lidl.
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
It is really hard to find pumpkin purée in Ireland but I came across this in Sawer’s in Belfast, I’ve also seen it in Arcadia on the Lisburn Road (Belfast). The past few years I have just made my own purée to use in soups and recipes by roasting pumpkins and blending to a purée. Roasting pumpkins is fairly straight-forward but when I spotted this I decided to save myself the time by picking it up! Comment below if you’ve found it elsewhere!
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
I used this organic vanilla extract to add flavour to my latte.
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
This organic maple syrup was used to sweeten my latte.
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
To create that lovely, warming, comforting flavour, I blended a mix of winter spices to make my own pumpkin-spice mix.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe:

Serves: Ingredients are listed per person, so multiply as necessary.


  • One shot of espresso or strongly brewed coffee.
  • Two-thirds of a cup of milk  (measure this roughly, using the cup you will present your latte in).
  • One tablespoon pumpkin purée*.
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Whipped cream to serve (I used Glenisk’s organic fresh cream)

For pumpkin spice mix:

This makes about a quarter cup of pumpkin spice mix, use about a quarter teaspoon or so per latte.

  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 3 quarters of a teaspoon allspice
  • 2  whole cloves

*If you are making your own pumpkin purée be sure to use small cooking-pumpkins – large carving pumpkins are not flavoursome and are not generally ideal for cooking with! Thankfully lots of shops now have a great selection edible pumpkins! Use leftovers to make pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup.

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
Two medium-sized carving pumpkins next to two smaller, edible, cooking pumpkin varieties.


  1. Add the milk, pumpkin purée, vanilla essence and maple syrup* to a pot. Stir to blend and heat very gently on a low setting. Be careful not to let the milk get too hot as it will curdle. (*you may wish to add more maple syrup depending on your taste – this recipe will not match the sweetness of a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte so add more maple syrup and vanilla essence if you want a very sweet version!

    Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
    The milky pumpkin latte mix
  2. Add all spices to a coffee grinder to blend your pumpkin spice mix.
  3. Brew your strong coffee or espresso shot. Ideally you would use espresso here but I used a cafetiere to brew my coffee as I don’t have an espresso maker. I used freshly ground, strong-flavoured coffee beans to mimic the espresso flavour as best I could.
  4. Whilst the coffee is brewing, Pour hot water into your latte cup to heat it up.
  5. Whip the fresh cream.
  6. Use a hand mixer to blend and froth your milk mixture, or ideally, steam and froth your milk if you have a coffee machine.
  7. Pour the hot water out of the cup. Add a shot of coffee to your cup, followed by your milk mixture. Leave space at the top for some whipped cream! (If you want to avoid whipped cream then simply froth your milk before adding it to the cup.)
  8. Serve your latte with whipped cream on top and use a sieve to sprinkle about a quarter teaspoon of pumpkin-spice mix over the top.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
P.S. To read more about Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte ingredients have a look here.

The Clean Coconut x

Clean Cleanse Part 2: My Detox Experience

Below I have laid out my entire week of eating over the course of the Dr. Junger’s Clean Cleanse which I followed in November 2014. At the time this was a small experiment to figure out whether I had a food intolerance.

Check out my introduction to this cleanse and the full list of eliminated foods here.

cleanse, clean cleanse
Raw Hazelnut Chocolates

My meal-prep for the week involved a batch of green smoothies, a big pot of chicken soup and some raw chocolate chia puddings, all of which I froze in portions. I also made some raw dark chocolates (sugar-free of course) for when I wanted a treat. Having these few things prepped ahead of time made it a lot easier to stick to the plan.

cleanse, clean cleanse

My Detox Week – Daily Cleanse:

  • Day One:  Friday  
  • Upon waking:                   Pint of filtered water
  • Breakfast:                          Green Smoothie
  • Mid-Morning:                   Chocolate chia pudding with raspberries.
  • Lunch:                                Turkey burger with salad
  • Dinner:                               Homemade chicken soup
  • Treat:                                  Raw dark chocolate and almond bar
  • 2 pots of herbal tea:         Lavender, chamomile and rose blend, and Peppermint.

cleanse, clean cleanse

The soup had to be made without the addition of stock cubes (due to the gluten and soy etc that they contain) so I made my own stock from the chicken carcass. The green smoothies were something I was already drinking most mornings, but I usually included apple and pineapple to sweeten up my usual base of spinach/celery/cucumber/kale – of course on the cleanse this was not allowed. Without the fruit they were a little harder to swallow but not as bad as I expected – in fact, afterwards, I never went back to adding in the same amount of fruit as I had been before I completed the cleanse.

The dark chocolate Magic Mayan bar did contain some coconut sugar, a low GI sugar – which unfortunately was not allowed on the cleanse, but I felt it was ok to have this small bit of coconut sugar considering the main aim of the cleanse (for me) was to establish whether or not I had a food allergy or intolerance to the likes of dairy/eggs/soy/gluten etc. I had ordered the bars from before I realised I wasn’t allowed the coconut sugar! So that was my Friday night treat.

  • Day Two: Saturday
  • Upon Waking:             Pint of filtered water
  • Breakfast:                    Green Smoothie
  • Lunch:                          Chicken Soup
  • Dinner:                         Turkey Meatballs
  • Treat:                            Homemade raw Chocolates
  • Pot of Herbal Tea:      Pukka Love tea (Lavender, chamomile and rose)
cleanse, clean cleanse
Day two: Turkey Meatballs

I Had a small amount of organic, gluten-free, brown rice pasta with the Turkey meatballs – it was the weekend and I couldn’t resist! Again breaking the rules slightly for a very small amount of brown rice pasta didn’t bother me as I was really trying to rule out an intolerance to gluten/dairy/soy etc.

  • Day Three: Sunday
  • Upon Waking:           Pint of filtered water
  • Breakfast:                  Green Smoothie
  • Snack:                         Homemade Cinnamon Almond Butter and nuts
  • Dinner                        Grilled Salmon with cabbage and cauliflower.
  • Treat:                          Homemade Raw Chocolates
  • Herbal Tea:                Pot of Pukka Love Tea (Chamomile, lavender and rose)

The nuts I had were soaked from the night before to make them more digestible. The salmon was grilled with coconut oil and I flavoured the vegetables with chilli flakes.

cleanse, clean cleanse
Day three: Herbal tea with homemade raw chocolates
  • Day Four: Monday
  • Upon Waking:                 Pint of filtered water
  • Breakfast:                        Green Smoothie
  • Mid-morning:                 Chocolate Chia Pudding with raspberries and coconut.
  • Lunch:                              Turkey Meatballs (leftovers I had frozen on Saturday!)
  • Pre-Gym:                          Apple, cinnamon-almond butter and soaked nuts.
  • Post-Gym                         Sunwarrior Vegan Vanilla protein blend in almond milk
  • Dinner:                             Homemade Chicken Soup
  • Treat:                                Peppermint tea and homemade raw superfood chocolates
cleanse, clean cleanse
Superfood chocolates I made as treats

For the week, I replaced my usual dairy-based whey protein powder with vegan protein powder.

  • Day Five:  Tuesday
  • Upon Waking:             Pint of filtered water
  • Breakfast:                    Green Smoothie
  • Mid-Morning:             Chocolate Chia Pudding
  • Lunch:                          Chicken Soup
  • Pre-Gym:                      Almond butter, soaked nuts, banana and half an apple
  • Post Gym                      Sun warrior Vanilla protein blend
  • Dinner:                         Chicken, broccoli and carrots.
  • Treat:                            Magic Mayan dark chocolate bee pollen bar
  • Herbal Tea:                  Two cups of peppermint tea

I cooked the chicken in coconut oil and used a variety of herbs to add flavour to the dinner.

cleanse, clean cleanse

  • Day Six: Wednesday
  • Upon Waking:             Pint of filtered water
  • Breakfast:                     Green Smoothie
  • Mid-Morning Snack:  Almond butter and mixed nuts (soaked)
  • Lunch:                          Chicken Soup
  • Dinner:                         Steak and carrots

    cleanse, clean cleanse
    Chicken and Vegetable Soup
  • Day Seven: Thursday
  • Upon Waking:            Pint of water
  • Breakfast:                   Green Smoothie
  • Mid-Morning:            Chocolate Chia Pudding
  • Lunch:                         Chicken Soup
  • Dinner:                        Chicken and veg.

I drank lots of water throughout the day every day. I noticed as the week went on that my appetite lessened.

cleanse, clean cleanse

As I went to the gym and trained during the cleanse I felt it was necessary for me to have some carbohydrates; this was the only way I broke the cleanse. Twice I had a little coconut sugar (in the Magic Mayan bars), I had a banana and I had an apple. I also had brown rice pasta on the Saturday night (organic and gluten free). This worked for me at the time. I didn’t feel it was worth forsaking gains in the gym and I wanted to have the energy to train!

I did remain totally dairy, gluten, egg, soy, potato, alcohol, caffeine and refined-sugar free throughout the week and ate no processed food. I also took the recommended supplements as mentioned in part one of the Clean Cleanse. These were probiotics, digestive enzymes, B vitamins and magnesium.

I have to say that by Friday – day eight of the cleanse, I was feeling great, it seemed like my body was really beginning to respond to all the ‘clean’ eating. I felt like my results were cut short because the cleanse ended almost as soon as I was starting to see the great results!

cleanse, clean cleanse

My cleanse was followed by a weekend of birthday celebrations that included most of the things I wasn’t allowed on the detox! But completing this week gave me a deeper insight into the notion of food intolerance and certainly increased my curiosity about whether the diet I had been eating was not as good for me as I thought…

Its funny to look back at this week of eating now and see how simple it is, many foods are repeated over the week. This was because that way of eating was so new to me at the time. Many of the things I depended on daily were no longer allowed. Now, however, I could complete this cleanse with a much wider variety of meals, snacks and drinks, but I had to start somewhere!

The Clean Coconut x

P.S. I didn’t eat all of those raw chocolates pictured above in one week! They’re so rich that one or two or three at a time satisfied my cravings, so I had plenty to keep me going after the cleanse was complete!

cleanse, clean cleanse

P.P.S. For more info on Dr. Junger’s Clean Cleanse check out his website here.