Apple Walnut Quinoa Crunch + More Healthy Candy Recipes

Apple Walnut Quinoa CrunchReady for a curiously crunchy treat? My recipe for Apple, Walnut & Quinoa Crunch will satisfy sweet crispy cravings while filling you up longer thanks to an unexpected punch of protein from the quinoa and black walnuts– it’s a balanced candy for your “healthy tooth”!

Apple Walnut Quinoa Crunch is a healthy alternative to peanut brittle candy -- it packs a bit of protein from the ancient grain Quinoa and is dairy-free, gluten-free and made without traditional corn syrup (only a touch of coconut sugar and 100 percent apple cider)I like to eat it straight off the baking sheet or break up into shards of sweetness to top my Greek yogurt.

Apple Walnut Quinoa Crunch on Greek Yogurt

Apple Walnut Quinoa Crunch made with apple ciderI almost hesitate to even call this easy-to-make recipe “candy,” although it is a take on old-fashioned “nut brittle.” However, the typical peanut brittle or nut brittle uses a boatload of butter, table sugar and corn syrup – gasp! Instead, my healthy candy recipe is packed with wholesome ingredients like 100 percent juice apple cider, ancient grains, dried fruit and nuts, and just a touch of coconut sugar.

I also choose to use Black Walnuts instead of standard english walnuts. Why? The black walnut has the most protien of any tree nut and imparts a more intense, earthy, nutty flavor to recipes. I discovered this news I can definitely use at the Produce Marketing Associations recent Fresh Summit in Orlando when, I auspiciouslly bumped into Hammon Black Walnuts on my way out the door to fly home.

As far as sugars go, coconut sugar (derived from Palm) is a much healthier sweetener in moderation as it doesn’t spike blood sugar as dramatically as traditional sugars. Also, if a concern for you are a loved one, this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free.

I originally made this recipe for Litehouse Foods and used the Honey Crisp Apple Cider, you can find it in the produce section this time of year. This Cold Pressed, 100 percent pure apple juice has a unique tart taste that is wonderfully balanced with sweet. It’s perfect poured straight from the container, served hot or cold, and also makes a great ingredient in recipes where you would prefer natural sweetness.

Some things to note when making this recipe — you need to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, your oven temperature may vary affecting the overall cook time. Also, it will be soft when removed from oven — give it plenty of time to set up and harden, stick in the fridge to expidite. If it still doesn’t seem crispy, then you can put it back in the oven for several minutes at a time until done.

jennifer fisher - - chocolate date candy barsAnother healthier “candy” I’m pulling from the archives to share with you today is my recipe for Sweet Date Chocolate Candy Bar Bites. These are so yummy and I love how the dates provide extra iron in my diet.

Hazelnut Pecan Protein FudgeI also like to make a batch of my Hazlenut Fudge Protein Balls to stash in the freezer and thaw out one at a time to quell my dessert cravings. These no-bake energy bits are ideal for a healthy little dessert or as pre and post workout fuel.

now-foods-ingredients-for-quinoa-crunch-candyIn addition to the Honey Crisp Apple Cider from Litehouse Foods, which you can conveniently find in your market’s produce section this time of year, here are some other ingredients used in my Quinoa Crunch.a

Do you have a “healthy” candy recipe? What is your go-to when you are craving something sweet? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer

Apple Walnut Quinoa Crunch
Apple Walnut Quinoa Crunch
Print Recipe
This healthier alternative to candy is easy to make and packs a bit of protein thanks to the ancient grain Quinoa.
Servings Prep Time
4 servubgs 10 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servubgs 10 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Apple Walnut Quinoa Crunch
Apple Walnut Quinoa Crunch
Print Recipe
This healthier alternative to candy is easy to make and packs a bit of protein thanks to the ancient grain Quinoa.
Servings Prep Time
4 servubgs 10 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servubgs 10 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings: servubgs
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160C) and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or use a silicone baking liner as I did)
  2. Using a fine-mesh sieve, rinse the quinoa well under cold running water and spread out on a paper towel to dry. This will prevent bitterness.
  3. Add quinoa, walnuts, oats, crumbled dehydrated apples, and salt to small mixing bowl, stirring to combine.
  4. To a small saucepan, 1 ½ cups apple cider and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until volume has been reduced to ½ cup liquid. Add coconut oil, coconut sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and simmer for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Pour apple cider “syrup” over the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly coat. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet and spread into a uniform layer with a metal spoon. Uniformity in thickness will promote even cooking and keep edges from burning.
  6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, rotating the pan around on the oven rack at the halfway point. When removing from oven, color should be deep golden brown in color. Allow to cool completely so that it hardens up before breaking into bite-sized pieces.
  7. If you realize, after cooling that still soft in the center, you can return it to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, keeping a close eye.
  8. Store leftovers in a sealed bag or container at room temperature up to one week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
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3 Ways to Chow a Cherimoya + My #MustHaveBox

Just when I think I’ve tasted every type of fruit and vegetable there is to eat (ever been to Produce Convention), I realize that a tasty treat has slipped past my radar – the Cherimoya. Mark Twain once likened the cherimoya “deliciousness itself!”  – how did I ever miss the memo on this quite large and armored lizard-skinned looking fruit!

Discover easy, tasty ways to eat a Cherimoya (also known as a Custard Apple)


Once set aside solely for ancient Incan royalty, this “King of Fruit” is still a prized possession – they are delicious and hard to find . . . and usually fairly big-bucks if you do. But, so worth the investment as you will gobble up this healthy treat in a single sitting, especially if you have a friend sitting nearby with a spoon. The flesh inside is amazingly fragrant, soft, sweet and scoopable – there some seeds inside, but they aren’t too hard to flick away.  When selecting afruit, pick a cherimoya that is still green but showing minor signs of turning brown soon. Like an avocado, the fruit is ripened with the flesh yields to a gentle touch. So, if your fruit is still green and hard, let it ripen on the counter for up to three days – or stick in a paper bag to speed the process along.  Check out my friends at Frieda’s for other great Cherimoya Recipes and Tips.

So, my top 3 ways to chow a cherimoya are:

Cherimoya sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg1)  Sprinkle with Spices: Sliced in half and sprinkled with cinnamon, dash of nutmeg and a bit of honey drizzle – I swear it tastes just like apple pie. My kids think it tastes more like a pineapple and banana that got married and laid a big prehistoric egg.  Either way, it’s a taste bud winner – haha!

Pureed Frozen Cherimoya - Smoothie and Meal Pret2) Mixed into Oatmeal: I put chunks or puree of cherimoya in my morning oatmeal.  This is a great way for me to boost up the vitamin C, potassium, and in my fiber in my daily diet. If I find the fruit on sale or can’t eat what I’ve purchased before going too ripe, I simply puree the fruit in the blender with a tiny splash of lemon juice and freeze in heavy-duty zip-top bags (above picture). This will keep in the back of your freezer for 6 months! You can also sub in for 1/2 the oil in baked goods as you would applesauce, pumpkin or another fruit puree.

Apple Cider Cherimoya Smoothie is loaded with fall flavor, fiber, vitamin C and more!

3) Blended into Smoothie: Blending cherimoya with orange juice is traditional but my recipe for Cherimoya Apple Cider Smoothie is super yummy.  I use one of the delicious, cold-pressed, 100% juice apple ciders from Litehouse Foods — so fresh you need to look for it in the produce department!

Directions: Add 2 tablespoons oats to bottom of blender, pulse for a few seconds to grind up. Add ½ cup cherimoya puree (preferably frozen) or fresh chunks, 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, ½ cup apple cider, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon honey (or sugar-free alternative) to blender and blend for 1 minute, adding a few ice cubes to achieve desired consistency. Serves 1.

Must Have Box from POPSUGAR

Also, I want to share with you my favorite little luxury each month – it’s the PopSugar #MustHaveBox from POPSUGAR.  The Must Have Box is a specially-curated monthly subscription that is filled with full-sized products across fashion, beauty, home décor, upscale edibles and more. I absolutely have adored everything that’s come in my monthly box – often they are splurges that I would never buy myself (but am oh-so happy to have) or fabulously off-beat, quirky things that I never knew I needed until I have in my hot little hands – and then I’m hooked!

The Fit Fork - POPSUGAR Must Have Box

Must Have Box from POPSUGARThe October box included a book, Power Your Happy, by POPSUGAR founder Lisa Sugar, a gorgeous umbrella from Henri Bendel (along with a shopping discount card), Dark Drinking Chocolate (by My Cup of Cocoa) and a Rise & Shine Diner Mug (by Morning Culture). The Lalicious Bubble Bath, Revlon Eye Pen and Makeup Eraser Mini really spoke to my girly side, that’s a nice treat when a mom of three boys!  Check out some of the past Must Have Boxes  and sign up for a subscription that suits you – save $5 on your first box with code SHOP5.  Whoohoo!

What is your MUST HAVE this month? Tip me off on your new, most favorite, most awesome find! Oh, and have you ever tried a Cherimoya?! Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennnifer 


Apple Protein Pancakes with Sugar-Free Cider Syrup

Apple Protein Pancakes with Sugar Free Apple Cider Syrup - TheFitFork.comThe kids have the whole week off school for Thanksgiving and they want pancakes for breakfast  . . . every day! My recipe for Apple Protein Pancakes with Sugar-Free Cider Syrup wins for convenience and taste. It relies on boxed pancake mix (you can use whole wheat) and jarred applesauce.  I originally developed this recipe for Litehouse Foods (they have the best apple cider), but later tweaked it for my own use by using a couple scoops of vanilla protein powder.  I just find that after eating pancakes, I get the “hangries” unless I’ve balanced it with a little more protein.  Oh, and the syrup doesn’t have any added sugar, a huge bonus considering the way my kids pour it on without discretion.  If you’d rather do the no protein powder version, get the recipe here.

Sugar Free Apple Cider Syrup for Pancakes -

Apple Protein Pancakes with Sugar-Free Cider Syrup

For Pancakes:

  • 2 cups “complete” pancake mix (the “just add water” type)
  • 2 scoops (about 2/3 cup) vanilla or unflavored protein powder
  • 1cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup apple cider

For Syrup:

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon liquid Stevia (or any sugar  substitute to achieve a ½ cup sugar equivalency) I used NuNaturals
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups  apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons butter

1. Heat electric griddle to 375 F degrees or skillet over medium high.

2. In bowl, combine pancake mix and protein powder with a whisk until blended. Stir in applesauce and apple cider until slightly smooth. If batter is too thick, stir in a scant amount of water or more apple cider to thin.

3. Pour batter onto hot griddle using 1/3 cup measure. Cook for approximately 1 to 1 ½ minutes before flipping. Pancake is ready to flip when edges are pulling away and bubbles on top have slowed down.

4. Flip pancakes with spatula and cook for approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. Repeat for remaining pancake batter.

5. Meanwhile, prepare syrup by mixing cornstarch, sugar substitute and cinnamon together in a saucepan with heat off.

6. Gradually whisk in the cider and lemon juice and cook over medium heat stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until thickened

7. Remove syrup from heat and stir in butter. Serve warm over pancakes and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Serves 6 (2 pancakes each)

 More pancake recipes for hungry people:

Pancakes made with Core Power -

Pancakes made with Core Power –

 My little secret trick — just swap out Core Power for the milk or water in your pancake recipe.

Bit of Pumpkin Pecan Oat Pancake theftfork.comPumpkin Oat Pancake – Yum, these pancakes are pure fall goodness from the griddle — I like to use Love Grown Foods Super Oats to add a little extra nutrition with quinoa flakes, amaranth flakes and chia.

Pre Race Paleo Pancake - The Fit ForkPre-Race Paleo Pancakes – This is my go-to super healthy pancake recipe from a CrossFit superstar friend, Stephanie from Missouri.





If you need to stock up:

Apple Cider Bourbon Glazed Carrots + Big Book of Sides #Giveaway

four roses whiskey - thefitforkOther than turkey, nothing says Thanksgiving more than a bottle of full of bourbon in my family. We’ll have that sucker drained in no time — no so much taking shots (okay, maybe a couple), but rather as a spirited ingredient in my holiday menu.

Watch this video of Rick Rodgers, chef and author of The Big Book of Sides, make Bacon, Onion and Bourbon Marmalade –it’s fantastic and versatile enough to spread it on a biscuit or dress a bowl full of warm green beans. Oh, and I’m hosting a giveaway for a copy of The Big Book of Sides, so enter at the bottom of this post.

Based on Rick’s recipe for Pomegranate Glazed Carrots (p. 148 of The Big Book of Sides) and my new found bottle of Four Roses Bourbon, I was inspired to create my own side dish recipe — Apple Cider Bourbon Glazed Carrots.  These carrots are so delicious and make a perfect pairing with your roast turkey or even a juicy steak – and because I’m using coconut (palm) sugar, they are even Paleo-diet friendly. Apple Cider Bourbon Glazed Carrots - side dish recipe from

Apple Cider Bourbon Carrots - thefitfork.comBourbon Apple Cider Glazed Carrots Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound carrots, scrubbed and green tops removed
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut (palm) sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans


  1. Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add carrots in single layer and pour in apple cider and bourbon. Sprinkle tops with brown sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Bring sauce to boil over high heat, occasionally stirring to dissolve coconut sugar.
  3. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes to soften remove lid and bring heat up to high. Boil until sauce has reduced to a glaze, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with pecans, and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.   Serves 4.

So, if you’ve ever struggled with side dish ideas and are tired of the same old mashed potatoes or plain buttered peas, The Big Book of Sides has more than 450 recipes that will add pizzazz and razzamatazz to your holiday plate. Some of the side dish recipes that spoke to me were Chard Puttanesca; Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes;   Farro, Cherry and Feta Salad; and Chipotle Corn Pudding. Enter below for a chance to win a copy of this must-have manual for the home cook – if you can’t wait to win, you can pick up a copy on Amazon.

This post and giveaway is sponsored. I received product and other compensation in exchange for my time; all opinions, editorial comments, content and photographs are my own, unless otherwise noted.


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