Healthy Habits: The Perfect Parfait

Let me tell you a story. About 7 years ago, while on vacation in the fabulous town of Las Vegas, I ordered something called a “Breakfast Parfait” for breakfast one morning. Being the then-unadventurous eater that I was, my breakfast options had previously been limited to Honey Nut Cheerios and Eggo Waffles. Thus, this “breakfast parfait” was a major departure from my habitual morning meal. When it arrived, I was delighted by the eye-catching layers of yogurt, granola, and fruit. I liked it so much, I ordered it again the next morning. I completely forgot about that divine breakfast treat until many years later, when I had been bitten by the cooking bug. Inspired to assemble something more elaborate than toast or cereal, I determined to re-create that breakfast treat. Little did I know that I would soon develop a new culinary obsession.

Breakfast parfaits have it all: they’re versatile, nutritious, and beautiful:
-You can adapt any parfait to suit your taste preferences; there are no real rules about what must go into a breakfast parfait.
-If you choose relatively healthful components (i.e., low-fat or non-fat yogurt, plenty of fruit, and whole grains), then a breakfast parfait is a healthy addition to any diet.
-Be sure to choose a pretty glass in which to place your ingredients. Half the fun of eating a parfait is the presentation!

I’ve had much practice in making parfaits over the years (almost as much expertise as I have in smoothie making), so here are a few guidelines I’ve created to ensure a maximally enjoyable parfait experience:
*Choose a grain component. I like whole grain cereals such as Fiber One, raisin bran, and Kashi GoLean. Other grain options include VitaTops, homemade whole grain muffins (crumbled), or other baked goods.
*Choose a fruit. There are no real limits here. Go with your favorite…or even a combination of several.
*Choose a wet ingredient. Mine is almost always yogurt, but I have been known to include applesauce or pumpkin as well. Most often I use plain yogurt, but feel free to include flavored yogurts as well–just keep an eye on that sugar count.
*You may like to sprinkle an optional topping as a final flourish. I typically place a dollop of nut butter, a few chopped nuts, wheat germ, or granola for texture and taste.
*Pay attention to the order in which you layer your ingredients. I happen to enjoy soggy textures, so I like to layer in the following order: grain, yogurt, fruit–repeat! That way the muffins or cereal soak up the flavor of the yogurt, creating a texture not unlike a trifle. Feel free to change up the sequence as you please.

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