Healthier Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn + More Fall Favs

Maple Pumpkin Pecan PopcornMaple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn: So much goodness here, this is a delicious and easy-to-make fall snack. Forget about Cracker Jacks, make your own healthier autumn-inspired version with real maple syrup, a bit of butter and real pumpkin along withthe right spices. Also, did you know you can make your own “clean” popcorn right in the microwave with nothing more than a brown paper lunch sack – that’s how I’ve been doing it for years!  Also, do NOT use maple FLAVORED syrup for this recipes, that would be a nasty, corn-syrupy shame. I love the 100% Organic Maple Syrup from NOW Real Food – it’s a light and delicate-tasting amber syrup that makes me think of a crisp, cool breeze and rustle of leaves with every taste! Recipe for the Healthier Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn at the bottom of the post!

Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn features all the flavors of fall an healthier sugar alternatives!

September PopSugar Must Have Box

September PopSugar Must Have Box

Also wanted to shout out some other this I’m loving this fall season. First, yay for the POPSUGAR, they sent me the September Must Have Box and, it’s definitely a must have! This awesome lifestyle subscription box always knows how to win me over with products that I’ll obviously love (like the GFB Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites) to unexpected surprises (like the Jack & Lucy Black Felt Hat) that I never knew I needed, but now wonder how I ever lived without! And this specially curated box of goodies even makes the practical contents (like the MANI E.R. purse manicure repair kit) super hip and cool.

Jack & Lucy Hat - TheFitFork.com Jennifer Fisher

Jack & Lucy Hat – TheFitFork.com Jennifer Fisher

If you are looking for a unique gift that gives for a month or e even all year, consider giving your bestie a subscription to the POPSUGAR Must Have Box. Use code SHOP5 (which never expires) at checkout to save $5 off your FIRST Must Have Box!

Tommie Copper Compression elbow sleeve

Second, I’m loving Tommie Copper Compression, again . . . as usual!  But this time I’m focused on their compression “sleeves” made for nearly every part and parcel of our limbs! Sometimes I ask a little too much of my bod and not even a rest day can  resolve my minor aches and pains. However, I really dislike being sidelined from training – – that’s why you’ll typically see me in some sort of compression gear. If you’ve ever seen my Instagram feed, you’ll see that I’m a huge fan of compression socks. But I also wear compression sleeves for ankle, knee, wrists, elbow and quads when needed for both during exercise support and post-workout recovery. Personally, I really like the Tommie Copper brand – the targeted compression sleeves are low-profile, unobtrusive and make my muscles, tendons and joints feel good (or at least lessen the feeling that I’ve been run over by a truck)!

Tweet “Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn + Fall Faves @nowfoods @tommiecopper @PopsugarMH #ad”]

Of all the fall foods, what is your favorite? Or at least, favorite fall flavor? Ever try compression gear for anywhere other than your legs or rear? Please share in the comments, XOXO — JEnnifer

 

Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn
Healthier Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn + More Fall Favs
Print Recipe
Fall into fall with Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn, it freatures nearly every iconic flavor of the season! Healthier than store bought caramel corn thanks to wholesome ingredients like maple syrup and stevia baking blend. Also, find out two companies that I've been loving later.
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn
Healthier Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn + More Fall Favs
Print Recipe
Fall into fall with Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn, it freatures nearly every iconic flavor of the season! Healthier than store bought caramel corn thanks to wholesome ingredients like maple syrup and stevia baking blend. Also, find out two companies that I've been loving later.
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 F degrees.
  2. In small saucepan over medium high, add sugar and syrup and heat for 1 minute until combined. Continue to heat and add butter, pumpkin, salt and pumpkin pie spice, stirring until butter melted and spices incorporated.
  3. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer for approximately 2 minutes until slightly thickening but not turning dark brown
  4. .Add baking soda and stir. It will foam up a bit, continue to stir over the heat for 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat and immediately pour into large bowl containing popped popcorn. Add pecans. Stir well to coat as evenly as possible.
  6. Spread out mixture on Silpat or parchment covered rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 250F degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until crunchy.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes and transfer to serving bowl. Store leftovers in airtight container.
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Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa + Pinner’s Conference

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.comIt’s happened more than once, I’ve tasted a quinoa salad and gone “meh” even though I know good for me. We are at the crescendo of the quinoa craze, so you too probably are aware that this ancient grain (which is actually a seed) boosts your diet with  nutrients like B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and fiber. Additionally, quinoa is also one of only a few plant foods considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids — oh how I love me some protein! 

Maple Pecan Raisin Malasses Crusted Steak and Butternut Squash Quinoa

To add some flavor excitement to a quinoa recipe, I decided to mix up a dish that magnifies some of my favorite flavors that some consider “fall season” but I embrace year ’round – maple syrup and butternut squash! And hey, even though it was 105 degrees yesterday . . . we are getting closer to Autumn one day at a time! I’ve used two of my favorite products from NOW Foods, Organic Tri-color Quinoa and Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa can be served warm, room temperature or cold -- it's a healthy vegetarian side dish or salad packed with protein and wholesome energy.Anyway,my recipe for Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa is just bursting with flavor and wholesome goodness. Not only is this recipe pretty to look at, it’s a beautiful addition to a meal-prepping lineup — especially important now that it’s Back-To-School season. You can make a big batch and eat it warm or cold — it also holds up well to being packed in a lunchbox.   Of course, I like to pair mine with a big, juicy steak!

Maple Pecan Raisin Malasses Crusted Steak and Butternut Squash Quinoa

By the way, I am demonstrating this Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa coming up on Friday, September 9th at the Texas Pinner’s Conference  in the Dallas area (Arlington Convention Center). My class is called “Empowered Meal Prep – Protein for Fitness.” 

pinners conference class description

pinners conference pic 1Learn how to prepare enough protein (I’m grilling Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steaks) to make dinner with leftovers for breakfast and lunch — the other recipes are Iron-Boosting Beef & Date Spinach Salad and Steak & Plantain Breakfast Bowl. Sign up for my class, I’ll also have beef swag and lots of tasty samples!  Use the discount code FITFORK at online registration to save 10% on the very reasonable cost that allows you access to 100+ classes on food, fitness, crafts, home décor and more! Or, if you just want General Admission to shop and see the sights (no classes), you can get a free pass ($7 at door) using FREESHOPPING. RESISTER HERE

Are you a make-ahead meal prepper? What is your favorite dish to stock in the fridge or freezer? Have the kids gone back to school yet? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.com
Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa
Print Recipe
Beautiful and health-boosting, this easy quinoa recipe works well as a warm side dish or cold salad -- it packs and keeps for several days making it ideal for potlucks, lunchboxes, and make-ahead dinner planning.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.com
Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa
Print Recipe
Beautiful and health-boosting, this easy quinoa recipe works well as a warm side dish or cold salad -- it packs and keeps for several days making it ideal for potlucks, lunchboxes, and make-ahead dinner planning.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Toss butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place in single layer on rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Bake squash, stirring once halfway through, for approximately 15 minutes or until tender and turning golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool down.
  3. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions -- it should also take around 15 minutes, so you can do the squash and quinoa simultaneously to save time.
  4. When quinoa done, transfer to large bowl, fluff with fork and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. While quinoa and squash cooling down, prepare dressing by adding maple syrup, remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme and salt to small bowl and whisk until combined.
  6. Add cooked quinoa, cooked squash, green onions, raisins, and pecans to large bowl, mix gently to combine.
  7. Pour dressing over top and stir to evenly distribute. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.
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Spiralized Grapefruit, Avocado & Cucumber Salad + Altra Superior 2.0

Spring has really sprung here in Austin, so naaaaaaturally I’m talking running shoes and spiralized salads.  The bluebonnets are always a sure sign as is the unofficial start of trail running season.Altra Superior 2.0 - Great shoe for trail running. With some off road and Spartan running on my upcoming race calendar, I was excited to try out the Superior 2.0s from Altra Running. Such a light and fast ride for a trail running shoe and I had absolutely no loss of traction on the slightly muddy banked trails, excessing sloshing out of the water crossings, or feet that felt like they had been beat up by race end.  Check the Superior 2.0 out, you will love them for flying down gentle trails to all sorts of gnarly terrain. And, more good news, I placed 3rd  Overall Female in that 10k trail race aptly named “The Maze.”

So, now you know my latest spring shoe obsession, but what about the salad?Cucumber Grapefruit Feta Salad with Avocado Cilantro DressingHow about a Spiralized Cucumber and Grapefruit Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing?!

Spiralized Cucumber Avocado and Grapefruit Salad -- add feta, pecans and whatever else you love! Dressed with a Greek Yogurt Cilantro Avocado Dressing

I used the spiralizer attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer to transform cucumbers into windy ribbons and toss with tart grapefruit segments and other flavorful ingredients like feta cheese, avocado chunks, pecans and cilantro.Kitchenaid Spiralizer Attachment puts a new twist on fruits and vegetables. Great for creating healthy recipes.

It makes a showy salad full of salty-sweet tang, vibrant colors and crunch! To marry the flavors even more, I’ve also used a favorite dressing — OPA by Litehouse Avocado and Cilantro! With a base of Greek yogurt, this dressing is a healthier way to pour rich and creamy flavor atop any salad – or use as a versatile sauce over fish or in your lunch turkey wraps, the possibilities are endless.

Cucumber Grapefruit Salad with Opa Greek Yogurt Cilantro Avocado Dressing

A few tips about the Spiralized Cucumber and Grapefruit Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing:

  • Don’t have a spiralizer? Don’t worry, just quarter and seed the cucumbers lengthwise and then julienne into 2 to 3-inch strips.
  • Don’t skip the draining step after prepping the cucumbers or you’ll end up with excess water pooling in the bottom of your bowl (and eventually making a soggy salad).
  • For convenience, consider using prepared grapefruit segments found in the produce section. Drain off the juice (drink or reserve for another use – see below) and simply toss in the salad. There’s no time-consuming peeling and tedious cutting away of pesky membranes.
  • Before adding avocado chunks to the salad, I like to dunk them in reserved grapefruit juice (or lemon juice) to keep them from oxidizing and browning before serving. This also helps leftovers stay fresh in the refrigerator for another day.

Check out these blogs I’m linking up with today: Check out these blogs I’m linking up with today: The Fit Foodie Mama, Hello to Fit, Fairy Burger, Chocolate Runner Girl , Confessions of a Mother Runner, , Running on Happy

Do you even spirazlize? Hehe, if so, what is your favorite fruit or veggie to turn into twisty goodness?  Did you race this weekend, I’d love to hear the details – XOXO, Jennifer

Cucumber Grapefruit Feta Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing
Grapefruit, Avocado and Cucumber Salad with Cilantro Avocado Dressing
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 15 minutes
Cucumber Grapefruit Feta Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing
Grapefruit, Avocado and Cucumber Salad with Cilantro Avocado Dressing
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 15 minutes
Instructions
  1. Process cucumbers in spiralizer and place “noodles” in colander to rinse off seeds.
  2. Let cucumbers sit and drain for several minutes before patting dry with paper towels. Transfer to serving bowl.
  3. Add sliced onion, cilantro, feta, and pecans to salad and toss gently with dressing.
  4. Drain juice from grapefruit (if using packaged) into a small bowl.
  5. Peel and seed avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces and gently dunk in reserved grapefruit juice (or lemon juice) to prevent oxidization.
  6. Add grapefruit segments and avocado to top of salad. Serve with additional cilantro, if desired.
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Boo-Yeah! Pumpkin Pecan Oat Pancake Recipe

Pumpkin Pancakes with Pecans, Caramel & Greek Yogurt - TheFitFork.comPumpkin, it’s what’s for breakfast this time of year! Maybe I’ve gone overboard with the gourd, but I don’t care. I’ve created a pumpkin recipe that you absolutely must make this weekend for a satisfying but not too sinful brunch – Pumpkin Pecan Oat Pancakes with Caramel Yogurt Topping.

skeleton shoes runningPumpkin is a super food, I know y’all have heard me ramble on and on about the health benefits. It’s filled with fiber and a great source of vitamins, especially A and E. That bright orange colored flesh indicates an abundance of antioxidents ready to help boost your heath and also potentially prevent a laundry list of chronic diseases and conditions. I eat to stay a lean mean, running machine, but I definitely don’t want to be a SKELETON — so in preparation for my hilly 10 mile race on Sunday, I’m going to attack a stack. YUM!

I pumped up the nutrients in my pancakes to the next level by adding Love Grown Foods® Super Oats (Simply Pure) to the batter – lots of good stuff here including quinoa flakes, amaranth flakes and chia. You can use any type or brand of oats you like – I’m just saying these Super Oats rock! Also, instead of dousing my pumpkin pancakes in a ton of sugary syrup, I simply mixed together some protein-packed Greek yogurt with just a touch of caramel sauce mixed in for a tasty topping.

Bit of Pumpkin Pecan Oat Pancake theftfork.com

Pumpkin Pecan Oat Pancakes with Caramel Yogurt Topping Recipe

  • 1 ½  cups “complete” whole wheat or buttermilk pancake mix
  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans plus extra for topping
  • 12 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup caramel dip

Instructions:

  1. Heat skillet over medium-low heat or electric griddle to 375 degrees
  2. In medium bowl, mix together pancake mix and oats. Stir in water, pumpkin puree and pecans with spatula  until big lumps disappear, don’t over mix (toughens pancakes).
  3. Pour approximately 1/3 cup batter for each pancake onto lightly greased skillet or griddle.
  4. Turn when pancakes bubble and bottoms are golden brown.
  5. In small bowl, mix together yogurt and caramel sauce.  Top on pancakes and sprinkle with extra pecans.
  6. Makes about 18 pancakes (serves 6).

 

Top Row: White Chocolate Pumpkin  Oat Bread and Pumpkin Granola - Bottom Row: Pumpkin Protein Donuts and Caramel Pumpkin Smoothies

Top Row: White Chocolate Pumpkin Oat Bread and Pumpkin Granola – Bottom Row: Pumpkin Protein Donuts and Caramel Pumpkin Smoothies

Looking for more ways to incorporate pumpkin into your morning meal? Everyone at my house clamors for these other pumpkin favorites — baked pumpkin protein donuts, pumpkin granola with golden raisins and almonds, pumpkin white chocolate quick bread and caramel pumpkin smoothies.

What are you making with pumpkin these days?

Honey-Sweet Pecan Apple & Hemp Granola Recipe

hemp protein granola apples and pecans

I have more granola for you! You just need to run over and grab a handful before it’s long gone. Sprinkling a couple of crunchy tablespoons on my Greek yogurt in the morning is a must; however, my husband prefers to munch it straight out of the bag. To create a more satiating snack, I almost always add a couple scoops of whey power and some raw, shelled hemp seed to my granola recipes for an extra protein boost. By the way, check out my granola recipe round up post for some other healthy breakfast, dessert and snack ideas.

pecan apple hemp granola with honey

Honey-Sweet Pecan Apple Hemp Protein Granola Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup organic honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (2 scoops) vanilla or plain protein powder
  • 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (Gluten-Free, if needed)
  • 1/3 cup shelled hemp seed
  • 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup honey pecans, chopped*
  • 3/4 cup dehydrated apples, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
  2. Place the coconut oil, honey, applesauce, water and protein powder in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium-low and whisk until mixture is smooth, thick and creamy and just beginning to bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.
  3. Pour oat, hemp and cinnamon into pot, stirring to combine and coat. Pour mixture out evenly on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes, stirring once or twice. If granola still seems moist, keep baking in 5 minute increments until dry. Remove from oven and let cool completely on sheet. Crumble up in bowl and stir in chopped pecans and apples.
  5. Store cooled granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.

*Sugared and honey-coated nuts tend to burn easily, so I add them after baking. However, if you substitute raw nuts, they may be added with the oats before cooking.

healthy ingredients coconut oil and honey

I love trying out new ingredients and brands in my recipes; it makes me feel like an experimenter of epicurean proportions! I was recently sent some new products to try out, and give a thumbs up to both. First, I was surprised to find that the LouAna brand made a coconut oil. This great southern company, in business since 1894, has been making nearly every type of cooking and salad oil imaginable.  LouAna Coconut Oil is ideal for baking, sautéing, stir-frying and more – the scent is enticing and there are no trans fats or cholesterol. You also get all the benefits of this heart-healthy “super fat” at a budget-friendly price – I’ve seen it at my local market for $6.00 per huge 30-oz. container.

I’ve used all types of sweeteners in my granola before including maple syrup, stevia and (gasp) real brown sugar. We have a couple honey-lovers in the house, so I decided to try Wholesome Sweetener’s Organic Honey. Here in Austin, Texas, it’s not hard to get my hands on some pretty delicious local honey – but, I must say, I did love my bottle from Wholesome Sweetener. It was a beautiful amber color and really did have the “butterscotch essence” as advertised! Aside from the superior taste, I feel confident using this product in recipes and letting my kids squirt it all over their biscuits, bacon and yogurt – that’s because this honey is fair trade-certified, non-GMO and organic.  One thing I did notice is that it’s important to reduce the baking temperature by 25 F degrees; honey tends to caramelize (and burn) fairly quickly.

I’ve been practicing these one-armed pull-ups so I can get my workout in AND much granola at the same time. Well, just kidding – it was a dare and I figured out a way to make it happen. Sorry the video is sideways, oops.

 

Skinny Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad + Jump Rope Workout

lightened chicken salad

I love chicken salad. Cool, creamy and packed with lean protein, chicken salad is a go-to meal on my family’s overscheduled evenings. With multiple obligations that have us crisscrossing each other’s paths, I make dinner less stressful and more healthful (avoiding fast food) by whipping up a big batch earlier in the day, plate it up on lettuce and leave waiting in the fridge for self-serve meals as people arrive home.

Unlike deli chicken salads, my recipe for Skinny Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad is much friendlier on your figure. No-fat Greek yogurt replaces most of the mayonnaise used in traditional chicken salad; just a bit of reduced-fat mayo is added in for the familiar flavor. Dried cranberries add a hint of natural sweetness and toasted pecans give a satisfying crunch!  Serve on lettuce (my favorite way) or sandwich between bread, dollop atop crackers or roll up in a wrap.

Skinny Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad Recipe

  • 4 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast
  • 2/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced (including tops)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-tat mayonnaise
  • 6 ounces 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Romaine Lettuce, chopped
  1. Add first 9 ingredients to a large bowl, and stir with a fork to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to overnight before serving. This gives the flavors time to mingle.
  3. Serve over a bed of romaine lettuce.

Serves 6.

 

Jump rope workout

Now that you’re fueled up with a healthy salad topped with Skinny Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad, you’ll have plenty of energy later in the day to knock out my “Just Jump & Plank” WOD I created for Core Power. All you need is a bit of space and a jump rope and you’ll be getting a great cardio workout along with some core-strengthening action. Have fun!