‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pumpkin Spiced Pizza

In America, the season of fall is greeted with a slew of fall flavoured favourites, most notably: Pumpkin and pumpkin spice. Pumpkin in and of itself is a vegetable, and a healthy one. So what did we do to it? In true American (ok, fine... Western) fashion, we took something healthy and found a bazillion ways to made it unhealthy.

Pumpkin is a type of squash, originally found in Mexico. Currently, 1.5 billion tons are produced in America, mostly in Illinois.

Pumpkin is highly nutritious... Well duh, it is a vegetable. One cup of boiled, mashed pumpkin (245g) contains about:
  • 50 calories
  • 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, almost nil sodium
  • 3g fiber
  • 2g sugar (remember this when reading the Starbucks section below)
  • 2g protein
  • 6% of your folate (a B vitamin necessary for cell growth and metabolism)
  • 8% of your iron (a mineral needed to transport oxygen around the body)
  • 16% of your potassium (a mineral used for nerve signaling and muscle contractions)
  • 19% of your vitamin C (a water soluble vitamin involved in skin and tissue formation, wound healing, repair, and maintenance of bones, cartilage and teeth)
  • 245% of your vitamin A (a fat soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant needed for vision, bone growth, immune function, and reproduction)
Btw, here's a new article adding to the body of evidence, just how awesome vegetables are at keeping your body weight manageable.

Even Google loves pumpkins
Now, to some of the things we're calling "pumpkin" or "pumpkin spice". Here's how some Starbucks favourites measure up nutritionally...

* Note: the following numbers represent Grande size, with 2% milk, and no whipped cream! If you add cream, add about 100cal):
Or, you can be "healthy" and get the "lite" version:
Pumpkin Spice Light Frappuccino = 180cal, still 40g sugar (Grande, no whip)

Or if you'd like to get some of your calories from something solid (still at Starbucks), you can try:
  • Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin  = 350cal, 34g sugar, 14g fat, and 430mg sodium (that's 18% of your recommendation for the day)
  • Pumpkin bread = 410cal, 39g sugar, 15g fat, 500mg sodium... And a piddly 2g of fiber (adults need 25-35g of fiber daily)
What about some other pumpkin-pushing products? Do they actually contain any pumpkin? The results were surprising:
  • Pumpkin spiced Oreos - No pumpkin detected. But plenty of sugar, palm oil, high fructose corn syrup, and colors
  • Pumpkin pie spice M&Ms - Ingredients list is vague, only noting artificial colors and flavors (including on the front of package), needless to say... No pumpkin there
  • Ben and Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream - Contains pumpkin purée! (6th ingredient)
  • Cedar's pumpkin hummus - Contains pumpkin (2nd ingredient)
  • Keebler fudge stripes pumpkin spice - No pumpkin, but does have an impressive list of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, several hydrogenated oils (AKA trans fat), colors, and flavors
  • Chobani Greek yogurt pumpkin spice - Does contain pumpkin purée, but low-ish on the ingredients list... Not enough to provide any fiber in the serve, and evaporated cane juice (AKA sugar) features 2 ingredients ahead of the pumpkin
  • Pillsbury pumpkin spice rolls - No pumpkin. Kind of a surprise actually. But again, plenty of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, colors and trans fat
  • Noosa Australian yogurt pumpkin flavor - The 2nd ingredient is "fruit purée" which does include pumpkin purée... But also water, sugar, and cream cheese. Followed by flavors and other forms of sugar. PS: Australians don't have a pumpkin fetish, so from an Australian's point of view, it's a little wrong to sell "Australian" pumpkin yoghurt... just sayin'
  • Alaskan Beer Pumpkin Ale - Does actually have pumpkin purée (well knock me over with a feather!) 5.5lbs are added to each barrel for mouth feel (I have no idea how much that comes out to per bottle, but so far, beer is beating Oreos and Pillsbury)
  • Jif whipped peanut butter and pumpkin pie spice flavored spread - That's a mouthful... And it's a mouthful of peanuts, trans fat, sugar, flavors, but no actual pumpkin. PS: peanut butter should contain: peanuts... Not sugar and oil as well
  • Pop-Tarts pumpkin pie - About 1/3 down the long list of ingredients you do see "pumpkin"... right after "salt". I'd say, if there's more salt than pumpkin in a "pumpkin pie pop-tart"... Keep walking
Walk away from non-pumpkin pumpkin "foods"
I don't mean to spoil anyone's fun... Well, maybe I do. But being aware of food crazes is probably useful. Some take home points:
  • Doesn't matter how popular it is... Pick up the product, flip it over and read the ingredients, if it's full of crap, put it down and walk away
  • A pumpkin Oreo (even if it actually contained pumpkin) doesn't count as a vegetable, and you know it
  • Find a recipe to make your own pumpkin thing (bread, muffins, etc) that actually contains pumpkin puree or shredded pumpkin

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