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I love where I live. With Sonoma’s breathtaking beauty among her rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and the close-knit community I am blessed to call home, it's easy to say I love what I do. As a real estate professional and food writer, Sonoma Dish endeavors to share with you my enthusiasm for living the wine country lifestyle.



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  • Writer's picture Therese Nugent

The Perils of Pumpkin Spice

Your pumpkin spice latte addiction may be preventing you from home

ownership. Like the Millennials with their daily dependence on avocado toast

hindering their ability to save for a down payment, pumpkin spice latte

connoisseurs might be at risk, too. If only they cut back on their consumption of

avocados and their beloved pumpkin spice lattes (now referred to as PSLs), they’d

be able to afford a home just like the boomers before them. JK! I jest.

Pumpkin Spice Latte season (or fall as it’s also known) is here. It used to be a

nip in the air that indicated fall is on its way. Not anymore. Now it‘s your first PSL

purchase posted to your Instagram account.

It’s not just the PSLs. It’s pumpkin spice everything.

A recent trip to a regional grocery chain favored by Millennials and soccer moms alike had my senses spinning. Not only was the smell of pumpkin spice a waft, the barrage of pumpkin-

spiced flavored everything was overwhelming. And weird. Waffles, pancakes, bagels

and donuts. Ice cream, cream cheese, butters and breads. Chips and salsa, noodles

and pasta sauce. Potato chips and chewing gum. Even classic Candy Corn and the

liqueur Kahlua is getting in on the seasonal food trend. That’s just wrong IMHO. Oh,

and let’s not forget the body deodorant and dog treats. Seriously?

Just so you know, true pumpkin spice is a blend of ground cinnamon, nutmeg,

dry ginger, and cloves. What our palette perceives as pumpkin spice in a PSL and

other pumpkin spice specialties is actually a synthetic version of chemicals found

naturally in pumpkins. This version tricks your brain into thinking whatever

concoction you’re consuming is pumpkin.

So about that down payment on a house. The iconic Starbucks PSL drink

costs $4.25. calculated how many PSLs you’d need to abstain from to

save towards home ownership. In the Bay Area where the average home commands

$920,000 you’d need to skip a latte a day for 59 years to make the $184,000 down

payment. But who’s counting.

I’m not sure pumpkin spice will ever return to it humble roots reflecting the

autumnal blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and nothing more, but there

is no denying a PSL is delicious. So drink up!

Or simply make your own tasty PSL using my copycat recipe and bring on autumn!


The iconic seasonal treat prepared at home with just pennies on the dollar. And pure

deliciousness without the artificial flavors and colors.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Serves 2

1 and ½ cups milk

1 tablespoon pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend

1 cup coffee, hot and strongly brewed

sugar, to taste

whipped cream and a dash of ground nutmeg, for garnish

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk, pumpkin puree,

and brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until heated through.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.

3. Divide between two coffee mugs and stir in the hot coffee.

4. Add sugar, to taste, and dollop with whipped cream and nutmeg, if desired.


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