Being the fall fanatic that I am, I challenged myself to eat as many seasonal pumpkin foods as possible within a three-day period. It all started when I accepted a promotional pumpkin facial. How much more “fall” could I get?
While I wouldn’t consider myself a “pumpkin lover,” I wanted to take advantage of the seasonal treats that everyone raves about, from pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin-flavored everything.
After one extensive Google search later, I created a full list of meal options to make at home and find around local shops. Then I got to living my best pumpkin-filled life. Or at least attempted it.
Day 1: Eating good, living better
Breakfast: Pumpkin cream cheese muffin from Amelie’s French Bakery
Snack: Pumpkin D-Lite Smoothie from Smoothie King made with organic pumpkin and frozen yogurt
Lunch: Dried apricot, pumpkin + goat cheese salad from Amelie’s French Bakery
Dinner: I cheated and had a small regular meal so my dinner was basically a huge consumption of dessert. The dessert-filled pumpkin part: Homemade pumpkin cream cheese cookies from Queen’s University of Charlotte’s dining hall.
Day One Recap:
Initial mood: I started off the challenge pretty pumped, especially because it began with a pumpkin facial from Urbana Spa & Tea. I’m pretty keen on quality skincare, but this was my first custom facial. During my hour-long session, the esthetician used the spa’s own pumpkin cleanser and other serums, toners and detoxifying treatments to clean and exfoliate my face. (Note: You can buy their East West brand products at the spa too.) To give you an indication at how relaxing this was, I’m pretty sure I fell asleep halfway through the session. The extraction, which is optional, was a little painful but totally worth it too because my skin’s never felt better. Urbana is offering this festive facial special for $80 throughout October, so I highly recommend that you add this to your fall “to-do list” before it’s too late. I’m not sure if it was the spa’s soothing ambience or tea lounge but I definitely walked out of Urbana feeling festive, rejuvenated and hungry for pumpkin!
Challenges: Finding foods for my pumpkin consumption was pretty easy this day because I relied on local restaurants and shops to ease into the sweet taste. Overall, I was pretty surprised by how many pumpkin flavored foods were offered at my favorite food spots and that they were more delicious than I expected.
Physical check-in: By the end of the day, I felt normal. I could feel the small cravings for salty foods creeping in but brainstorming which pumpkin flavored treats I’d have for Day 2 was definitely a great distraction. My skin also looked and felt just as clean and clear as it did when I left the spa. (Already checking my calendar to book my next facial.)
Day 2: Faking it to make it
Breakfast: Pumpkin pie latte and pumpkin bagel with pumpkin spread from Einstein’s Bagels
Snack: Pumpkin ‘Dlight’ smoothie from Smoothie King (This tastes so much better than I thought it would so I had to get it again. It’s pretty filling in between meals and it tastes delicious.)
Lunch: Pumpkin soup (I could really only manage three spoonfuls because of the sweetness) and pumpkin tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s.
Dinner: I’ll get to that.
Day Two Recap:
Initial mood: I woke up with the taste of pumpkin in my mouth. But I also woke up a little groggy with a lack of energy (probably from the quick switch in my diet) so I knew I needed to turn to the cliche, popular drink that all millennials and Starbucks fanatics depend on during this time of year — the Pumpkin Spice Latte. (For convenience, I turned to the pumpkin pie latte at Einstein’s.).
Challenges: By the time lunch rolled around, I was starving and the last thing I wanted was something sweet. I’ve never craved salt more in my life. I was blanking on foods to eat that weren’t a pastry or coffee. I swear I was going mad… but then of course, my roommate Haley texted me asking if I’d like to meet for Chick-fil-A after my internship. It’s like she and the universe knew that the only thing I wanted, the one thing I couldn’t have, was my beloved, pumpkin-less, chicken nugget combo.
But my pride wouldn’t let me quit this early in the challenge. I’d made it through one day, I could make through two more, right? Wrong. After having to fight my urges through the Chick-Fil-A drive thru line, Haley and I spent an hour in Trader Joe’s searching every aisle for any and all pumpkin flavored foods. I’ve got to be honest — I knew the pumpkin flavored food craze was a big thing, but little did I know there were pumpkin-ized foods in all grocery categories.
I walked out of Trader Joe’s so confidently, with a full bag of Pumpkin O’s cereal, pumpkin breakfast bars, pumpkin soup, pumpkin tortilla chips and pumpkin tomato sauce to go with my pumpkin shaped noodles. Once I got home, I felt so accomplished unpacking all of the new, unique groceries that I’d found.
But here’s the thing — I felt so happy (and hungry) that I was dying to taste-test everything. I ripped open the packaging and started to devour every taste while I was heating up my pumpkin soup.
The pumpkin cereal and pumpkin breakfast bars were OK, and the pumpkin tortilla chips were surprisingly my favorites. But when I took my warm pumpkin soup out of the microwave, I knew it was all over the moment I smelled it. At this point, it was like the taste of pumpkin was permanently rooted to my taste buds so I could barely handle swallowing the sickeningly sweet soup. Three spoonfuls and a stomachache later, I threw in the towel of this all-pumpkin consumption.
The overall failure:
Sure, I said I would be a pumpkin fanatic for three days. Sure, I’ve never felt more festive or knowledgeable about seasonal treats beyond the PSL. But by dinnertime Day Two, it was all over…I felt like I’d damaged my digestive system (if that’s even possible from too much pumpkin consumption.) Even though this was a failure, I enjoyed my attempt, for a bit. As I continue to recover from my newfound hatred of pumpkin-flavored treats, here’s my parting piece of wisdom for all the fall-treat fanatics out there:
Stick to the pumpkin spice latte. And if you do indulge in the other snacks, don’t do it all at once.