How to Get Your PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) to Lighten Up


Hi I’m Hallie and I am a recovering PSL addict. That’s Pumpkin Spice Latte in case you’re out of the coffee talk loop. I haven’t had one at Starbucks in years…YEARS! (I’ll tell you my secret in a sec) but before that, good gawd…I was right there in line with every other yoga pant-chunky sweater wearing-dragging a couple of kids behind her-mom.

I love EVERYTHING about the fall: the weather, the trees turning color, the firepits, the football games, opening the windows at night, big sweaters, and all the pumpkin spice lattes I can get my fading tan hands on.

Close to a decade ago, I cut sugar out of my diet when I realized the toll it was taking on my body. I needed to make major habit changes and my PSL addiction was one of them. This was before the days of almond and coconut milk options so I got ALL the dairy, too. You may have already made the shift away from dairy as well but in case you haven’t, I’m afraid I’m just going to rip the bandaid off here with what you get if you order your PSL as is.

If you don’t really care what is in your PSL as long as it tastes like a trip down cozy lane, then I’ll just be over here praying for you. Whatever you do, don’t look at the ingredients below. Nope. Go on, enjoy your diabetic coma in a cup and for sure don’t look at down at the picture below to see what you’re actually ingesting.

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 3.34.48 PM.png

But for the REST OF YOU who want to know, I’m going to break your heart. Or maybe churn your stomach. Both? I’m sorry but someone has to give it to you straight. The nutrition information to the left is what a Grande PSL looks like if you change nothing in your order. If you order as is, this will give you double the grams of sugar you should be having ALL DAY!

And up until recently, there was actually no pumpkin at all in the drink, just the spice. They have added pumpkin puree to their syrup now but the sugar remains.

Kids. Not only do you crank the cortisol with your caffeine bomb, you also make your blood sugar skyrocket. It’s a double whammy to the system. If you aren’t aware, excess sugar feeds potential cancer cells in your body, causes inflammation, decimates the lining of your gastrointestinal tract (aka leaky gut), feeds the bad bacteria in your body, causes candida overgrowth and stirs up depression/anxiety. How’s that cup of cozy feeling now? I KNOW! Once I found out, I wanted to cry. So. Much. Crap.

I’m not trying to be a fun hater but dang, do you really want to keep slurping down that PSL knowing what it’s doing to your health?

If you MUST have the one from Starbucks, here are my hacks.

  1. Ask for less pumps

  2. Skip the whip

  3. Use almond or coconut milk as your milk of choice.

  4. Order a smaller size

But let me point out a few issues I have with some other PSL ingredients.

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 4.33.50 PM.png
  1. Condensed Skim Milk

    Even if you order it with nut milk, you are still ingesting dairy. Take a peek at the Pumpkin Spice Sauce. The first ingredient is sugar but then followed up by condensed milk, which is also adding to the sugar content. This is definitely a no-go for those who are lactose-intolerant.

  2. Annatto

    This a natural food coloring alternative made from the seed coating of the annatto tree that isn’t as healthy as it may sounds. There are possible side effects such as headaches, irritability, restlessness, focus issues, and sleep disturbance. Red food dye vs annatto? Looks like they both have the same effect so steer clear of both!

  3. Potassium sorbate (in both the sauce and whipped cream)

    This is a food preservative that keeps foods from spoiling. Preservatives are bad no matter what but this one in particular may cause hypersensitivity reactions of our immune system, i.e. allergic reactions, like itching of the mouth, nose, eyes and skin as well as nasal congestion. Maybe even abdominal pain. Then to add a little more salt to the wound, it can trigger migraines.

    As if that’s not bad enough, the even bigger issue is that it has the potential to mess with our DNA and causes mutagenicity (the mutation of genes) which is a big contributor to cancer. Sure, you may not be drinking enough PSLs to get to that point but what else are you ingesting that has potassium sorbate in it? Add them up together and you may be ingesting way more than you think.

If this makes your stomach turn, especially the nutrition facts (380 calories and 50 g of sugar - gulp), I’ve got a tip to help you have your PSL and drink it, too.

How I make mine at home:

  • brewed coffee (I use Fair Trade Organic instant coffee and hot water)

  • a little Brain Octane oil (liquid coconut oil from Bulletproof—I get mine here (this is optional but like what coconut oil does for the bod)

  • two scoops of collagen

  • a splash of Elmhurst unsweetened almond milk (only 2 ingredients—almonds and filtered water)

  • a heaping spoon of pumpkin puree (trust me on this!)

  • enough pumpkin pie spice to choke a scarecrow


I blend all of that in my NinjaChef (cheaper version of a Vitamix) until it has a gorgeous latte color, pour it in my favorite mug, then top it with dollop of CocoWhip. If you need a little sweetener, I suggest monkfruit or a touch of maple syrup.

Side note: If you use monkfruit instead of maple syrup, you’ll be getting only 3 grams of sugar with this recipe. THREE! One teaspoon of maple syrup will be around 5 grams so still way better than Starbucks.

If this doesn’t make your sweater loving healthy heart go pitter patter…

Where there’s a will, there’s a way and now I get to enjoy my PSLs whenever I want without breaking the bank or giving myself diabetes.