You know it's almost fall when you start seeing pumpkin products popping up everywhere. Though pumpkin alone is rich in potassium and chock-full of the antioxidant beta-carotene many pumpkin-flavored foods are a dieter's worst nightmare.
To make enjoying autumn a little easier, we've rounded up the best and worst pumpkin coffees, bagels, soups, and more.
Worst: Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola
This USDA Organic cereal isn't all bad—pumpkin and flax seeds pack 5 g of fiber and 6 g of protein as well as 450 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per ¾-cup serving. But at 260 calories, 10 g of fat (1.6 g saturated), and 10 g of sugar, it's far from the best choice to start your day.
Best: Kashi Crunchy Granola Bars Pumpkin Spice Flax
With 4 g of fiber and 5 g of protein for just 170 calories, these crunchy bars make a satisfying healthy snack.
Worst: Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (standard order)
Order a standard Grande (16-ounce) Pumpkin Spice Latte and you'll wind up drinking what basically amounts to a mini-meal: 380 calories, 13 g of fat (8 saturated!), and a whopping 49 g of sugar.
Best: Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (modified order)
Starbucks allows customers to fully customize their drink orders, so with some careful instructions, you can savor a pumpkin spice latte without the guilt. Ask your barista for nonfat milk, to hold the whipped cream, and to add just one pump of syrup (the standard for a 16-ounce Grande is four) to save up to 150 calories and 13 g of fat.
Worst: Southern Tier Imperial Pumkin
The higher a beer's alcohol by volume (abv), the more calories it contains. This boozy beer from Southern Tier Brewing clocks in at 8.6 percent abv, racking up an estimated 260 calories per 12-ounce serving. What's more, the Pumking is sold in 22-ounce bottles, which makes it all too easy to overindulge.
Best: Post Road Pumpkin Ale
This 5 eprcent abv ale from Brooklyn Brewery contains about 150 calories—the same as a run-of-the-mill Budweiser. With its full pumpkin spice flavor, you'll feel satisfied after just one, making it a waist-friendly sip.
Worst: Hale and Hearty Spiced Coconut Pumpkin Bisque
A rule of thumb: When it comes to soup, "bisque" usually signals "fat bomb." This concoction from Hale and Hearty is no exception. Though it's made with coconut milk rather than the heavy cream you'd normally find in this style of soup, a half-cup serving sets you back 190 calories and 13 g of fat (10 saturated), not to mention the 690 mg of sodium.
Best: Panera Bread Autumn Squash Soup with Pumpkin Seeds
Panera's seasonal starter clocks in at a more reasonable 110 calories and 6 g of fat (3.5 saturated) for a half cup. It also contains 390 mg of sodium—43 percent less than Hale and Hearty's offering.
Worst: Einstein Bros Pumpkin Walnut Crunch Bagel
An average plain bagel contains about 350 calories. Einstein Bros takes its Pumpkin Walnut Crunch Bagel to another level by smothering it with a streusel topping made of sugar, flour, and walnuts. The damage? The bagel racks up 440 calories, 11 g of fat, and 25 g of sugar—and that's before you even think about cream cheese.
Best: Thomas' Pumpkin Spice Bagels
Generally speaking, no bagel will provide much nutritional value—they're low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and they rank high on the glycemic index. At 260 calories and 1.5 g of fat apiece, however, Thomas' Pumpkin Spice Bagels aren't so bad for an occasional indulgence. They even provide 9 g of belly-filling protein per serving.
Worst Black Coffee: Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee
Would you like some sugar with a side of coffee? Dunkin Donuts manages to load a medium-size pumpkin brew with 35 g of the sweet stuff, which adds up to 160 calories.
Best Black Coffee: Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice Coffee
Unlike Dunkin' Donuts, where sugary syrup supplies the pumpkin flavor, Green Mountain adds pumpkin spices to the beans before the coffee is brewed. That means you can enjoy the health benefits of coffee with a pumpkin spice twist for just 2 calories per serving. Adding 2 teaspoons of sugar and a tablespoon of cream will bring the calorie total up to 54. This flavor is available in both bags and in K-Cups.