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I originally made this recipe for Litehouse Foods and used the Honey Crisp Apple Cider, you can find it in the produce section this time of year.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 - thefitfork.com - 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
Ingredients
Servings: servubgs
Instructions
  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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Clean Apple Pie with Protein Bar Crust to #KeepOnTrack

This blog post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Pure Protein. All opinions are mine alone. #KeepOnTrack #CollectiveBias

Summer has been busier than a gym in January but I’m not letting my hectic schedule sabotage my good intentions. I’m keeping on track with my higher-protein diet by keeping my pantry, purse, gym bag, and mobile snack station (haha, the car) stocked with the new Pure Protein Plus Bars. Considering I’m out of the house most of the day working, running errands, shuttling my teen boys to their sports practices, and finding time for my own fitness routine, having a few of these insanely delicious protein bars at the ready has kept me from getting so hangry that I have the mother of all mother meltdowns.  In addition, the bars can be used to make quick nutritious desserts, like my recipe for Clean Apple Pie on Protein Bar Crust that I’m sharing in this post.   

Clean Apple Pie with Protein Bar Crust

To make this nearly sugar-free pie, I used one of the NEW Pure Protein Plus Bars that I purchased at Walmart. When you shop Walmart for Pure Protein Plus Bars, be sure to use Ibotta to earn $1.50 back.

Pure Protein Plus #KeepOnTrack

For more Pure Protein Plus Bars inspiration, visit this website. Make sure to enter the sweepstakes below too for a chance to win prizes to help #KeepOnTrack!

Pure Protein Plus Bars #KeepOnTrack Sweepstakes

These bars are available in four flavors (Cookies and Cream, Mocha Brownie, Apple Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough) that all sound ultra-decadent, but after checking the nutrition label, I found they actually make a quite balanced and sensible snack solution. I’ve been grabbing one for a quick breakfast, bedtime snack or for post workout recovery.

You can find these bars at Walmart on the nutrition aisle near the Pharmacy!

The preferred amount of protein I look for in a nutrition bar is around 20 grams with low sugar content and, ching-ching-ching, this new product delivers. Additionally, the NEW Pure Protein Plus Bars have that soft and pleasantly chewy texture I crave plus they are GMO-free, gluten free, have no artificial sweeteners and are high fiber (15 – 16g).

Oh, and the super delicious flavors are worth shouting out again (and again!) Hello, Cookies and Cream, Mocha Brownie, Apple Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough — welcome to my life.  But, unlike the real deal desserts, these bars are mindful of my mission to #KeepOnTrack with a higher protein, lower carb diet.    Making "crust" out of Pure Protein Plus Bars

So, ready for that apple pie I mentioned earlier?! My recipe for Clean Apple Pie on Protein Bar Crust takes all of five minutes and is made with an Apple Pie Pure Protein Plus Bar.  It’s a super speedy, protein-packed and no-sugar-added version of my favorite, all-American summer dessert. It’s almost magical how, after the bar is soften for a few seconds in the microwave, it becomes malleable enough to roll out or break in bits and press into the bottom of a pan.

While “making” the crust, slicing and softening your favorite variety of apple tossed with a sprinkling of cinnamon in the microwave takes just mere minutes. No added sugar required – apples are a great source of naturally sweet, complex carbohydrates that can be quickly accessed by the body as fuel for running, workouts or the relentless demands of a hectic life.  

Cinnamon Apples for Clean Protein Pie
Go ahead and pin or print out this protein dessert recipe to #KeepOnTrack and satisfy your sweet tooth at a moment’s notice.

Clean Apple Pie on Protein Bar Crust is a healthy option for dessert or a post workout snack.

 

Pure Protein Apple Pie
Clean Apple Pie with Protein Bar Crust
Print Recipe
All-American and all good for you, this cleaned up apple pie is packed with protein and real fruit -- the perfect healthy dessert or post workout snack.
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Pure Protein Apple Pie
Clean Apple Pie with Protein Bar Crust
Print Recipe
All-American and all good for you, this cleaned up apple pie is packed with protein and real fruit -- the perfect healthy dessert or post workout snack.
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: serving
Instructions
  1. Unwrap one Apple Pie Pure Protein Plus Bar and set on microwave-safe plate. Microwave on “defrost” setting for 20 seconds, or until warm and malleable but not too hot to handle.
  2. Break up warm bar into bits and place in the bottom of an approximate 6” diameter tart pan, skillet or ceramic dish. Using fingers or back of spoon, press down until formed into a crust that covers bottom of pan. Lightly coat fingers or spoon in coconut oil if beginning to stick.
  3. Cut medium apple into thin slices and place in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave apple slices on high for three minutes, stirring halfway through. Drain off any excess liquid.
  4. Drizzle with coconut oil, sprinkle with cinnamon and stir until coated.
  5. Place apples on top of protein bar “crust.” Sprinkle with pecans and top with yogurt.
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Run or Workout? Apples Core to Training Diet + Recipes

Why Apples are Core to a Runner's Diet - find out the health benefits and how they can improve your training.There’s truth to the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  This popular fruit has a bushel of benefits to keep the general population and athletes healthy and well. For example, apples are low in calories yet high in fiber, certain vitamins (like C), antioxidants and phytonutrients, making them a filling and snack that helps maintain weight and optimize health.

Avoid Apple Overload -- so just what IS considered a healthy serving of apple?

But, like everything else, you can over indulge. The suggested serving for an apple is about 1/3 pound, about 3″ in diameter (think of a tennis ball). However, most apples you see today at the market are not just large, the are super JUMBO! So, whether you run, swim, CrossFit or play team sports like basketball or lacrosse, there are even more reasons to add a healthy serving of apples to your training diet. Here are a few:

Healthy Carbs: Apples contain fructose, a natural fruit sugar that buts gas in the tank for your workouts. A medium apple has about 20 grams of carbohydrates.

Recovery: The healthy carbs in apples are also important for post-workout recovery, namely to replenish glycogen and fluids stores and help synthesis protein so that the body can repair taxed muscles. That’s why I always pair my apple with a Core Power High Protein Shake!

Hydration: Apples are about 84 percent water and another way to replace potassium and other electrolytes lost through sweat during exercise.

Gut Health: Pectin is found in apples, a prebiotic that promotes friendly gut bacteria. A healthy gut helps to “move things along” so that you won’t feel bloated and weighted down for your workout.

Endurance Booster:  Some studies suggest that quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples (especially the peel), may improve athletic endurance by affecting the oxidation process to muscles and increasing V02 Max.

Perfectly Portable: An apple comes packaged in its own wrapping will stay fresh for days (if not weeks) without any special treatment, making one an ideal snack to keep stowed in your purse or gym bag.

Versatile:  In addition to crunching an apple out of hand, there are plenty of easy and healthy ways to incorporate more apples into your diet including Apple “Nachos,” applesauce and baked apples.  It’s also easy to chop up apples and add them to protein pancake batter, stir frys and salads.

SOME OF MY FAVORITE APPLE RECIPES:

Cinnamon Super Oatmeal Stuffed ApplesBaked Cinnamon “Super Oats” Apples my just be the most comforting, homey breakfast ever made with a big apple and whole grain oats “superfied” with additional seeds and nuts.

caramel granola apple dessertCaramel Crunch Apple Nachos are are unique and healthy treat for parties, celebrations, fiestas and just plain ole everyday healthy snacking!

Apple Ring Protein PancakesApple Ring Protein Pancakes are a muscle-making spin off on my Grandma’s famous fritter recipe. Healthy carbs from the apples paired with a bit of protein powder are ideal for refueling after a hard run or workout.

Healthy raspberry apple snackRaspberry Chocolate Apple Rings simply require spreading a chocolate nut-butter over sliced apple and topping with raspberries.

So, are YOU an apple fan? Do you eat an apple a day . . . or an apple a week? What is your favorite way to eat an apple? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer