There’s something about fall baking that makes us want to spend all your time indoors, standing around inhaling the delicious smells. As soon as we catch wind of that wafting pumpkin, cranberry and apple, we feel almost woozy with desire. And then, of course, there’s the taste. Somewhere between tangy and sweet, fall baking fruits are impossible to resist.
This season, we’re getting back to baking, and because we know we won’t be able to stop eating, we’ve found recipes that are lighter and healthier than ever. No more of that silly worrying about our butts when we could be enjoying the fruits of our labour (pun intended, duh). Think muffins and pie are too heavy for your active bod? Think again. Here are two fall recipes, specially created by certified nutritionist, personal trainer and exercise physiologist, Franci Cohen, that we can enjoy without fear of extra poundage. So let’s take a moment to rejoice and give thanks before we eat, and keep on eating. Ya baby.


FALL RECIPE 1: PUMPKIN CRANBERRY MINI MUFFINS  Fall Baking: Guilt-Free Pumpkin Muffins and Apple Tartlets

This recipe is a lighter alternative to heavy dense cranberry and pumpkin cakes and breads. Using canola oil instead of butter lightens the load a bit, and swapping out 1/2 the flour for ground oats, adds both fibre and nutritional value to the muffin as well. Additionally, the added fiber will help you feel more satisfied than traditional cakes and muffins might. So no more picking at a second or third muffin before feeling like you’ve had enough.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oat flour (or fresh oats finely ground into a flour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. Combine pumpkin, beaten egg, oil and milk in a separate bowl.
  5. Make a well in dry ingredients and ddd pumpkin mixture and stir until combined. Fold in cranberries.
  6. Fill muffin cups and bake for 17-22 minutes.

FALL RECIPE 2: LOW FAT MINI APPLE PIES IN THEIR OWN SHELL  Fall Baking: Guilt-Free Pumpkin Muffins and Apple Tartlets

This recipe is a healthier and lighter (less calories and fat) than traditional apple pie recipes. The key? Using the apple as it’s own crust instead of a butter and fat laden pie shell. Doing so not only saves a ton of calorie and fat, but means that you get the added benefit of the fiber found in the apple’s skin. A few delicate strips of pie crust cover the top of the pie to ensure both your eyes and taste buds aren’t left wanting more!


  • Pie crust
  • 6 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut off the top of 4 apples and remove the inside with a spoon or scooper. Be very careful not to puncture the peel!
  3. Peel the 2 additional apples and slice very thinly. These apple pieces will be the filling for the mini apple pies.
  4. Throw the apple slices in a bowl and mix with sugars and cinnamon. Scoop mixture evenly into each of the 4 hollow apples.
  5. Roll out pie crust and slice into 1/4 inch strips.
  6. Cover the top of the apple in a lattice pattern with pie crust strips.
  7. Place apples in an 8×8 pan and add just enough water to the cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is soft.
Franci Cohen is a personal trainer, certified nutritionist, exercise physiologist and creator of SPIDERBANDS®, a total-body cardio resistance workout that leverages gravity and your bodyweight with other intense exercise modules such as rebounding, kickboxing and indoor cycling. Not surprisingly, Franci  believes in a tough love approach to fitness and health.

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