CookingLight diet CookingLight diet

Plus, the 3 items you should avoid at all costs.

Zee Krstic
September 18, 2018

Fall officially begins on Saturday, which means you can finally sip your maple-flavored latte and nibble on pumpkin-spiced snacks without shame. It feels like we've been celebrating fall ever since Starbucks launched their pumpkin spice latte on August 28, but last week Trader Joe's released their seasonal treats, which officially gave us full-blown fall fever. A TJ’s manager in Birmingham, Alabama, said that fall treats will continue to be released through mid-October.

The only downside? Pumpkin-spiced snacks sound pretty harmless, but they can actually be pretty unhealthy and some items are definitely better for you than others. Many of the items are packed with added sugars and sodium—but there are a handful of products you can enjoy and keep your diet on track.

Trader Joe's hasn't announced how many seasonal items they plan to release, but it's important to note that each region has different sale dates for fall products. While there are reports of Trader Joe's renowned pumpkin-spice almond milk being sold in the New England area, the item isn’t due in our local Trader Joe's until next week. One or two of the items on our list may not be available in your store just yet, but be patient. You'll soon have all the best of fall-flavored foods (all of which are under $7).

Keep an eye out on these better-for-you, pumpkin-spiced foods at your local Trader Joe's:

1) Pumpkin O's, $2.49

Photo: Zee Krstic.

A cup of this pumpkin-flavored oat cereal is perfect to get your morning going, and each serving has just 110 calories, 140mg of sodium, and 9g of sugar (none of which is added). Bonus: The cereal leaves a slight hint of pumpkin flavor floating around in your milk, which sounds like a treat on its own.

2) Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal, $3.29

Photo: Zee Krstic.

If a hot breakfast is more your style, Trader Joe's has launched a pecan- and pumpkin-flavored oatmeal that’s packaged into eight single servings, perfect for on-the-go mornings. Unfortunately, the sweet nature of the seasoning means you'll be eating 240mg of sodium and 14g of sugar per bowl, which is definitely higher than regular oatmeal, but more than okay for an occasional treat.

Love Trader Joe's? Try these items next:

3) Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix, $2.99

Photo: Zee Krstic.

Bakers, rejoice! All you need to make a loaf of pumpkin bread are eggs, water, and oil. Slice a loaf for your family and friends, and enjoy as a sweet treat: each slice is 250 calories, and has 290mg of sodium and 18g of sugar. There's also a gluten-free variety available, and we guarantee it’ll make your kitchen smell delicious.

4) Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix, $3.29

Photo: Zee Krstic.

I’ll be making these fluffy, light pancakes every Saturday this fall—and since two pancakes have just 210 calories, 250mg of sodium, and 7g of sugar, I won't feel at all guilty about it. Pass the syrup, please!

5) Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps, $3.99

Photo: Zee Krstic.

Upgrade your cheese plate this fall with these savory bread crisps that are delicious for dipping or spreading. 11 crackers come in at 80 calories, 115mg of sodium, and 6g of sugar, which makes them a healthy choice for your next dinner party.

6) Pumpkin Spice Granola Bark, $3.99

Photo: Zee Krstic.

This was our staff's favorite fall item by far, as the dark chocolate pairs deliciously with toasted pumpkin seeds and gluten-free granola mix. Each serving contains just 150 calories, 6g of sugar, and 2.5g of saturated fat (likely due to the fact that it's made with coconut oil.)

7) Chocolate Mousse Pumpkins, $2.99

Photo: Zee Krstic.

If you're dying to have something deliciously sweet and rich alongside coffee or tea, chocolate mousse is the way to go—especially when it's dressed up as an adorable pumpkin. These cakes are the perfect size for dessert, and you'll rest easy knowing there are 120 calories, 35mg of sodium, 2g of sat fat, and 5g of sugar per cake.

8) Harvest Spice Trek Mix, $6.99

Photo: Zee Krstic.

This item is the most expensive of the bunch, but you'll understand why when you taste this blend of roasted almonds, spiced cashews, pecans, candied ginger, and dried apples. If you're looking for a quick snack without breaking the calorie bank, each serving of this hearty mix contains a mere 150 calories, 55mg of sodium, and 11g of natural sugar.

9) Pumpkin Spice Coffee, $4.99

Photo: Zee Krstic.

Who says you have to go to Starbucks to enjoy a pumpkin-flavored coffee this fall? This product comes in two different packages—blended coffee grounds for your drip brewer, or single-serve cups like the ones pictured above. This container includes 12 cups of what one staffer says is “the best at-home coffee” she's tasted all year.

10) Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea, $3.99

Photo: Zee Krstic.

One of our editors says that this pumpkin-spice blend is delicious without being overpowering or artificial-tasting, and would be delicious for breakfast or after dinner. This tin contains 20 self-serve bags for you to steep at your desk or at home.

If you're looking to avoid copious amounts of sugar, skip these three items:

Pumpkin and Sweet Cream Cheese Muffins With Walnuts and Pralines

Each muffin contains 390 calories, 2.5g of saturated fat, 220mg of sodium, which isn't too horrific—until you realize there's 45g of sugar in each muffin, plus 90mg of cholesterol. Enough said.

Pumpkin Spice Chai Loaf

You can make a loaf of pumpkin bread using Trader Joe's mix—minus all the sugar you'll find in this one. A slice of this pre-baked cake has 250 calories, 2.5g of saturated fat, and 320mg of sodium, but the most concerning bit is the sugar: a whopping 31g per slice.

Pumpkin Butter

Unfortunately, we wouldn't even recommend sticking to one serving of this spread—a tablespoon contains 9g of added sugar, which is just about 40 percent of what you should be eating each day.

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