Perfect Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

It’s pumpkin season! Whether you love it or hate, it’s here. Growing up, pumpkin wasn’t something we ever had in our house. I didn’t have my first taste of pumpkin pie until I was at least 21. My then-boyfriend-now-husband introduced me to it. I’m still not a huge pumpkin fan, but I do enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie or a pumpkin donut from our favorite orchard almost every year.

Last month, I came across a pumpkin spice latte pancake recipe in a Kroger magazine. As I flipped through that magazine and gazed upon all the fall decor and recipes, the pancake recipe caught my eye. It seemed like the perfect way to help usher in the season in our home.

During my weekly grocery store run, I searched high and low (literally) for canned pumpkin and pumpkin spice. I stood in the baking eye staring at the spices for at least 10 minutes. Luckily, I found one jar of pumpkin spice on a top shelf that I could barely reach, but there was absolutely no canned pumpkin in sight!

I was sad that I wouldn’t get to try this new recipe, but luckily my husband had not one, but two cans of pumpkin in the cabinet. Believe it or not, the pumpkin was stashed away for our cat! Did you know that cats can eat pumpkin? I didn’t until my husband started giving it to her to help with digestion (that’s a story for another day).

Anyway, I was super excited to be able to make these pancakes.

The recipe was super simple to follow and did not disappoint. The pancakes turned out AMAZING! They were so good that I got a request from my son to make them again the following weekend.

Perfect Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

If you live for everything pumpkin spice, you definitely want to try this recipe. If you’re like me and occasionally enjoy pumpkin flavored treats, you definitely want to try these too! You won’t be disappointed. Trust me!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (I omitted this, but if you like espresso you can include it)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix (I used Cracker Barrel Buttermilk Baking and Pancake Mix)
  • Butter or oil, for greasing griddle or skillet and serving
  • Warm maple or pancake syrup
  • Whipped cream for topping (optional)

Here’s the link to the recipe and cooking directions if you missed it above.

Perfect Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the recipe if you decide to give it a try!



Eating Plant-Based for a Week

Working in the field of population health, I see the impact of chronic disease on overall health and health care costs on a daily basis.

Did you know that 6 in 10 U.S. adults have a chronic disease? 4 in 10 have two or more! Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019).

Majority of chronic diseases are a result of poor lifestyle choices, including what we choose to eat. In the work I do, we are often recommending solutions with a lifestyle medicine approach to control chronic disease or even reverse it. You can read more about lifestyle medicine here: What is Lifestyle Medicine?

The area of lifestyle medicine this is most relevant to this post is “healthful eating of whole, plant-based food.”

As I have learned more about lifestyle medicine and whole food, plant-based eating, my curiosity has grown about this dietary lifestyle. It sounds hard, but is it really as hard as it seems? It is sustainable? I have thought about these questions a lot. I decided it was time to stop thinking about it and just do it. At the end of June, I decided I wanted to challenge myself And my husband to eat a plant based diet for one week. Before I tell you about my experience and what I learned during my challenge, let’s define what a whole food, plant-based diet is.

The primary principles of a whole food, plant-based diet include:

  • eating primarily whole, unrefined, minimally processed plant foods
  • eliminating or minimizing meat, dairy, eggs, refined sugar, and oil

Read more here: Plant-Based Primer: The Beginner’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

Benefits of a whole food, plant-based include prevention or even reversal of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, reducing risk of some cancers, more energy, weight management, reduced inflammation, and overall better health outcomes.

One Week of Plant-Based Eating

During our week of eating plant-based, we chose to eliminate all animal products, including dairy, and minimize our consumption of processed foods.

The thought of the challenge energized me. I was looking forward to a nutritional reset, trying new things, adding some variety to our meals, and answering the questions I had about the diet.

I really only had one concern about the challenge, my husband’s response. I didn’t tell him what I was considering until the week before. When I told him about the challenge, I could tell that he was apprehensive, but he obliged. His primary concern was eating a high volume of vegetables. His words, “Too much salad will hurt my stomach.” lol

I spent our drive back from vacation planning our meals for the week and making my grocery list. The one thing I noticed during the planning process is the number of ingredients I needed to purchase increased, specifically in the produce department which makes sense, given the dietary guidelines. Whole food. All plant-based.

The Sunday of the challenge was spent meal prepping for the week. Here’s what was on the menu:

  • Breakfast – overnight oats
  • Lunch – salad with black bean and corn salsa and other veggies (carrots, cucumber, tomato)
  • Dinner – black bean and kale burrito bowls, black bean veggies burgers and pasta salad, veggie spaghetti

By day 2 of the challenge, I was hungry! Tommy too. I quickly realized that without meat I would need to eat a lot more food. I found myself wanting to snack a lot between meals. My options were fruit, Skinny Pop, and Kashi Bars. While the last two options did not include any dairy or animal products, they didn’t necessarily meet the criteria of reducing consumption of processed foods.

By day 3, I felt really bloated. I read that this was likely the result of my body adjusting to the increase in fiber intake. To counteract the bloating, I increased my water intake, which seemed to help. On this day, I also learned that Tommy was over black beans. lol In hindsight, I realize that there could’ve have been more variety in the meals I chose for the week. Three meals with black beans. Rookie mistake.

By the middle of our challenge, I noticed that I had more energy, even with waking up multiple times at night to nurse my daughter. Normally, I would be exhausted from work and ready for bed as soon as the kids were down for the night. But most nights, I found myself with enough energy to stay awake for at least another hour and half. I also noticed that I was more focused and alert during the work day.

In all, I would say my attempt at eating a whole food, plant-based diet was a positive experience and I would definitely do it again. My husband says that he didn’t really notice any of the physical benefits like I did, but that’s not to say that he wouldn’t if he continued the diet.

As I mentioned before, I always wondered if making the switch to a whole food, plant-based diet was hard. For me, eliminating all animal products for the week wasn’t that difficult, but I could see it being hard over a longer period of time, especially given the standard American diet.

Eating plant-based did require more time, effort, and discipline. Meal planning was essential. If I didn’t make the time or effort to plan ahead, it would have been too easy to eat how we normally eat. I think the biggest challenge, as I mentioned before, was having enough variety in our meals. If I were to continue this dietary lifestyle, I know that I would have to be open to trying foods that I have never eaten before and more creative in food preparation.

Secondly, I wondered, is this sustainable? The answer…it depends. I think this really varies by person. Do I see our family making the switch to strictly eating a plant-based diet? Not at this time. However, I am committed to increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables, making at least one meatless meal each week, reducing my own consumption of meat and dairy, and adding more variety to our meal plan.

If you are curious about or even considered trying a plant-based diet, I would encourage you to give it a try. You’ll never know if you can do it unless you just do it. Even if you don’t go all in and completely eliminate animal products from your diet, consider making gradual diet changes. Maybe you add one more vegetable to each meal or reduce the amount of meat you consume in one day or try one meatless meal a week. No matter what, I think we can all make one positive change in our diet to improve our overall health.


2017 Goals: Eat Better

In case you’ve missed the last two weeks, I am reflecting on some goals I created for 2017. Check out my previous posts to see what I have been focusing on this year!


Goal 3: Eat healthier foods

Similar to physical activity, I didn’t feel like I was doing the best with my diet at the start of this year. In the peak of nursing, I was always hungry! And although I wasn’t eating terribly, I didn’t always make the best food choices. There were several nights where my bed time snack was a whole bag of movie theater style popcorn. And I was not up for sharing! Just ask my husband. At the start of the year, I decided that it was time to make a change to the types of foods I was eating and serving my family. Obviously, my goal of eating healthier foods was pretty vague, but I have since refined it.

New Goal: Consume 5-6 servings of fruits/vegetables per day 

As I evaluated my family’s diet, I realized that we weren’t consuming nearly enough fruits and vegetables each day. My focus is now on choosing meals and snacks that incorporate a variety of these types of foods. These days, my guiding principle is to “eat a rainbow.” This means choosing a variety of different colored, whole foods to include in our meals. The more color the better!

So far this year, we have made significant changes to our lunches and dinner. To save money, Tommy and I choose to take our lunch to work each day. In the past, our lunches mostly consisted of PB & J sandwiches, chips/pretzels, granola bars, and either an apple or orange. Our lunches have changed significantly. Most weeks we are now enjoying salads, switching up our toppings to keep things interesting, and a variety of fruit.

Our salads might include any of the following: romaine or green leaf lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber, carrots, sweet bell pepper, corn, ground turkey or beef, baked or grilled chicken, and black beans.

lunch this past week

We take time each Sunday afternoon to prepare our salad ingredients. This helps with lunch prep during the week so that everything is ready to throw into our lunch containers. We also wash and store our fruit for the week which saves us time and ensures we have fruit readily available for snacks.

In addition to improving our lunches, I have also enjoyed trying new foods and recipes for dinner. A new favorite favorite meal of mine is roasted vegetables served over brown rice or quinoa. This meal super easy and I can always add variety by simply switching up the vegetables or adding smoked turkey sausage for extra protein. I typically include green beans, broccoli, bell peppers, and red potatoes. Some days I made zucchini or sweet potatoes. Like I said before, the more color, the better.

Overall, I am happy with the changes we have made so far this year. I think focusing on one aspect of our diet, increasing fruits and vegetables, has been a good starting point and has allowed for the change to be sustainable in the long run. Nowadays, there are so many diets and nutrition fads that require drastic changes in a short time period. In my opinion, changes like that are usually not sustainable. I have found that focusing on this one thing and trying to do it well has been a catalyst for inspiring other healthy eating habits for our family and allowing us to explore and enjoy new flavors.

What are some ways you incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet?