[custom_frame_left] pumpkinpatch_photo[/custom_frame_left] So have you had a Pumpkin Spiced Latte yet?

Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spiced Latte got the nation buzzing about pumpkin flavoring. This year there were 79 limited-time menu items featuring pumpkin at the top 250 restaurant chains from August through October. That’s more than double the 37 pumpkin items during the same time period in 2011 according to Technomic, a restaurant research firm.

Traditional fall flavors make excellent seasonal comfort food, yum! But forget harmful artificial flavoring and go for the real thing. Aromatic spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, anise, ginger, mace, vanilla, and cloves are perfect to add to warm milk (dairy or an alternative), smoothies, soups…the list goes on.

Last weekend we visited the pumpkin patch which left me inspired. I’ve started playing around with healthy pumpkin recipes and wanted to share my new morning treat: Pumpkin Spice Green Smoothie. It’s made with a roasted sweet potato for long lasting energy, ground flax for healthy omega-3s, spinach for your green leafy fix and those heartwarming pumpkin pie spices.

Pumpkin Spice Green Smoothie – Serves 2

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (add more liquid at end if needed till desired consistency)
2 cups spinach
1 baked sweet potato (see my tip below)
2 mangos (or 1 mango and 1 banana – you want 1:2 ratio of sweet potato to fruit)
2 TB ground flax seed
1 tsp cinnamon (more to taste) – or other pumpkin flavored spice
1 tsp nutmeg (more to taste) – or other pumpkin flavored spice

Puree spinach and almond milk in blender until smooth. Add remaining ingredients (and ice if desired), and blend it all up!

TIP: I roast a couple of sweet potatoes on Sunday so they are ready to go mid-week. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

During the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I will be experimenting with using pumpkin in various dishes – Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Enchiladas, even making Pumpkin Pie from scratch. And of course I’ll share the ones that turn out! Stay tuned.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Share it with us in the comments below or by posting it on the Embrace Wellbeing Facebook page.