By Ali Lopez
MRG Contributor

Fall is in full swing now. The changing leaves, the crisp mornings and all the delicious fall specialty drinks. I love to treat myself to a good cappuccino at my favorite coffee shop. But if you like to have one every day or a few times a week, that can really add up. And I’m not just talking dollars. Depending on where you buy them, they could be loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. What if you could make them at home anytime you want with REAL ingredients?

Well, listen up: I have come up with some great ideas for some of your favorite festive fall drinks full of flavor (wow… say that 3 times fast!). These are really easy to make with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

One of the most popular fall drinks seems to be the pumpkin spice latte. I mean, pumpkins and fall go together, so why not? But some of the time, there isn’t even any pumpkin in the drink. What’s with that!

unnamed-91Here is my easy At-Home Pumpkin Latte recipe. The trick is to make a batch of the pumpkin spice base first so you can make a latte whenever the mood strikes!

The Pumpkin Spice Base:

15-oz. can pumpkin puree

2 cups milk of your choice

1/4 – 1/3 cup maple syrup, honey or brown sugar

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Pie Spice (or 1 TBS. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1 tsp. nutmeg)

For each latte:

1/2 cup strong coffee or 2 shots espresso

whipped cream, optional

pumpkin pie spice, to garnish

First, make the pumpkin spice base:

  • Combine all the pumpkin spice mixture ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
  • Use what you need and keep the rest in the fridge for up to 1 week. (Give it a good shake each time you use it.)

To make each pumpkin spice latte:

  • Pour 1/2 cup (more or less, depending on your preference) of the pumpkin spice base into a pan over medium heat.
  • Heat until hot, but don’t let it boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the coffee.
  • Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. (If you have a milk frother, you can froth the milk first and add it your coffee if you like!)

Another one of my favorite fall drinks is a Mocha. Seriously, what is better than coffee and chocolate together??? I’ll tell you what … a Mexican Maple Mocha. I had a Mexican Mocha in a coffee shop while I was travelling once and decided that I needed to recreate this, with my own twist of course, once I got home. This is sure to warm you up and taste yummy, too!

unnamed-90Mexican Mocha Maple Recipe

(makes one drink)


6 ounces strong coffee (or two shots espresso)

2 tablespoons maple syrup (you could use honey, agave or even sugar, but maple is best!)

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of cayenne pepper

1/4 cup (or more or less) half & half (best) or milk of your choice

Whipped cream, optional, but awesome

In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.

Pour the coffee in a mug, stir in the cocoa mix and the maple and mix until smooth. Then add milk, and top with cream, and a sprinkle of cayenne, if desired.

But, Chef Ali … what if I don’t drink coffee but still want an awesome fall drink. Have no fear, chai is here. Did you know that the word chai technically only means “tea”? But here in the U.S. what we call chai is actually “masala chai” in India, which makes it a “tea made with a mix of spices.” So, what are those spices? What gives most masala chai its distinct flavor? There are so many versions of chai, but my favorite is a really simple mix of three key spices. For the perfect cup of Masala Chai, use green cardamom pods, ginger and cinnamon sticks.

Feel free to add any other spices that you like to make your own special Masala blend. The key here is the same as with the Pumpkin Spice Latte, making the Chai tea base first so you can have a cup of Chai whenever you’d like.

Here is a scaled down version of the Chai that I used to make for 1,000 yogis at the Omega Institute! Enjoy!

unnamed-92Chai Tea Base:

5 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

8 green cardamom pods, bruised

2 inch piece of fresh ginger

1/2 cup honey (sugar, or maple syrup are good too), or to taste
10 black tea bags (or loose tea if you prefer) (I like Assam or English Breakfast)

To make cup of Chai:

Milk of your choice

To make Chai Base:

  • Bring the water, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and honey to a boil.
  • Turn down and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the tea bags and allow it to steep for another 15 minutes.
  • Strain out the spices and tea and you can store the chai tea base in your fridge until you need it.

To make a cup of Chai: Heat equal parts of milk and chai base.

Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at heather [at] michiganrunnergirl [dot] com 

Ali will answer your questions in upcoming columns here on MRG. You can read her post about the Power of Smoothies, here »  She’s also written about superfoods and shares a great recipe for kale salad here »


Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »

You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on a recent MRG podcast episode here »

July 20, 2024

Beating the Heat: A Playful Guide to Running Like a Pro in Scorching Weather

Running in the heat can feel like you’re starring in your own desert adventure, minus the camels. But don’t sweat […]

July 16, 2024

Finding The Perfect Stride

Ah, running—the whimsical sport where you dash around without the promise of an ice cream truck at the finish line. […]

June 25, 2024

Finding Friends to Run With

Running solo has its perks—time to clear your mind, set your own pace, and enjoy some quality “me” time. But […]

June 21, 2024

Efficiency of Your Running Technique

Greetings fellow fitness enthusiasts! Today, we are going to explore the fascinating science behind optimizing our running potential. Contrary to […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>