As the leaves start to turn and the weather cools down, the flavour of pumpkin spice begins to emerge.

Pumpkin in its natural form is quite nutritious, but the sugar and additives in the season’s popular pumpkin dishes take you straight into the calorie red-zone. To avoid this, we’ve rounded up delicious alternatives that nix the extra calories without skimping the on flavour.


Pumpkin Pie: This all-time fall favourite can be quite caloric, but with a few swaps, it can be made a smarter choice. Make sure to use real pure pumpkin purée instead of canned pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sugar. Also try using low-fat milk or non-dairy milk, instead of cream or whole milk. Whipped egg whites add fluffiness for a smooth pie, as well as extra protein. The crust can also be made with whole-wheat flour for added fibre.

Pumpkin Spice Latte: If you’re ordering this hot drink at a coffee shop, request low-fat or non-dairy milk. But the best way to avoid the extra calories and sugar is to make your own version at home. You can use honey or agave instead of sugar and make sure to use pure pumpkin purée. Throw in some fall spices and you have a tasty, low-fat beverage to warm you up on these crisp fall days.

Pumpkin Soup: A warm, creamy pumpkin soup, believe it or not, can be made without any cream whatsoever. Pure pumpkin adds thickness, but try using coconut milk instead of cream or other light dairy products. The flavour of coconut pairs very well with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, while also adding creaminess. Chicken or vegetable stock can also be used for added flavour with minimal caloric impact.

Pumpkin Loaf: A fresh, warm sweet loaf straight out of the oven is just what these fall days call for. To amp up the nutrition, simply use whole-wheat flour or rolled oats ground into flour, and of course, pure pumpkin. To sweeten the cake, try swapping out some of the sugar for maple syrup. For moisture and added fibre, swap out the oil and butter for applesauce (which will also add some sweetness in place of more sugar) or Greek yogurt for added protein. If you want to add some healthy fats, feel free to throw in any nut of your choice, such as pecans or walnuts.

Pumpkin Pancakes: Waking up to the smell of pancakes never gets old. Pancakes are so versatile and truly take on the flavour of whatever ingredient you choose to add, as is the case with pumpkin and its complementing spices. Similar to the loaf, using whole-wheat flour or oats are a smart swap. Unsweetened vanilla almond milk can also be used instead of dairy, but keep the eggs for some extra protein.

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce: If you’re looking for a creamy pasta dish that’s waist friendly, try using pumpkin. The smooth and creamy texture will add the richness you crave, along with low-fat or non-dairy milk. Whole-wheat pasta is a good choice for a healthier dish with added fibre. Throw in whatever veggies and herbs you desire such as squash, onion, garlic, mushrooms and rosemary for a nutritious yet satisfying dish.