Now is my favorite time of the year. When you can feel the air transitioning from the heat of summer gradually into the crispness of autumn, and the leaves start changing color-- that’s when you know it’s fall. As the “baker” in my family, it's my job to whip out the loaf pans and pie tins and get to baking. Whether it be an apple crumble or chocolate chip pumpkin bread, I’ve tried nearly all of the classic fall baking recipes. But this year I’ve been faced with a new challenge. My younger sister has recently gone vegan, which means I’ve got to let go of some classic recipes in search for vegan-friendly alternatives. I wanted to find recipes that limit the amount of refined sugars and incorporate a more “healthy” style of baking, while still keeping the intense and delicious flavors. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays, but I'm not too fond of the few extra pounds that come with the insane amounts of sugar I’m consuming. Here are my top 5 vegan healthy(ish) Fall baking recipes. Happy baking!

1. One Bowl Vegan Pumpkin Bread

I don’t know about you, but I can't think of anything quintessentially more fall than pumpkin bread. It has to be my favorite baked good of the season. I remember my aunt would make loaves of it for Thanksgiving, and she would bake a personal sized one just for me because of how obsessed I was. This vegan pumpkin bread takes me back to the days after Thanksgiving where I would enjoy slice after slice of my aunt’s pumpkin bread, popping it in the toaster and spreading it with soft butter-YUM.

This recipe is jam-packed with pumpkin spice flavor and is made with walnuts AND chocolate chips! The fact that this pumpkin bread can be made in one bowl is a game changer-- easy clean up means less time washing dishes. Substituting oil and maple syrup for butter and over-processed white sugar keeps the flavor rich and sweet. After cooking up this loaf, be prepared to indulge in the pumpkin-spice aroma that will waft throughout your kitchen.

2. Vegan Banana Bread

Keeping with the theme of quick bread loaves, another one of my favorites to make is banana bread. Honestly, sometimes I purposely will let my bananas go overly ripe just so I can have an excuse to make this recipe. Although you can really make banana bread in any season, I find that something about making it in fall just hits different. I love that this recipe uses coconut sugar and almond flour, which brings an added touch of nuttiness and flavor to the bread. And of course, no banana bread is ever complete without a healthy amount of nuts and chocolate chips. Pecans and walnuts are personally my go-to’s- truly a divine combo. Make this banana bread and share it with your friends- I can guarantee they won’t believe it's vegan!

3. Vegan Apple Crumble

I absolutely love the simplicity of this recipe, with just 5 ingredients each for the apple mixture and crumble topping. The recipe doesn’t specify what types of apples to use, but I recommend going with a mixture of two of your favorites- mine are Granny Smith and Pink Lady. Using cassava flour in both the filling and crumble is perfect for those looking for a gluten, grain, and nut-free alternative to flour. It has more dietary fiber than regular flour, has a neutral flavor (unlike almond or coconut flour), and has a nice, powdery texture.

If you're like me and are intimidated by making your own pie crust, this recipe is perfect-- simply toss the apple mixture together, assemble inside a pie dish, top with your vegan butter crumble, and pop it in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes until the juices are bubbly and the crumble is crisp and a beautiful golden brown. Top with your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

4. Pumpkin Spiced Peanut Butter Oatmeal Blondies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Okay, I know this one is a mouthful, but all of the ingredients come together to make an extremely delicious and flavorful blondie. I was a little skeptical before making this, but trust me: this is a flavor combination that you NEED in your life. It’s entirely vegan, gluten and tree-nut free. Also, using coconut sugar is a healthier alternative to the empty calories of regular table sugar, since it provides many nutrients like iron, potassium, and antioxidants.

The chewy texture of the blondie with the rich pumpkin flavor pairs amazingly well with the nuttiness from the peanut butter, on top of the sweetness of the maple "cream cheese" frosting. Honestly, my favorite part of this recipe is the creaminess of the cashew-based frosting, with the hint of sweetness from the maple syrup. So much flavor in one bite!

5. Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Glaze

And last, but certainly NOT least, these Pumpkin Oatmeal cookies are to die for. I made these cookies recently with my sister on a crisp, rainy Sunday, and the recipe is super easy and insanely scrumptious. I still can’t believe a cookie this soft and flavorful is completely vegan and gluten-free, with a great texture from the mix of both blended and full rolled oats. The subtle sweetness from the maple syrup and pumpkin puree comes through without the use of refined sugar. This cookie is perfect for when you’re in the mood for pumpkin bread but are way too impatient to wait for it to bake and cool, like my sister and I were when we made them. And of course, I am a firm believer that maple syrup glaze will make anything better-- which is another reason why I love these cookies!

Even if you aren't a vegan, I strongly recommend trying out these recipes and stepping out of your comfort zone. Vegan baking doesn't have to mean sacrificing the quality of flavor, nor do you have to try to make the healthiest version of something. While I do enjoy eating healthy, every once in a while it's important to give in to your sweet tooth, and hopefully you will be able to fully indulge this season with these staple fall baking recipes! I know I will!