Sunday, March 15, 2009

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.

I have made MANY breakfast parfaits on this blog, but here is a mere sampling:

For a complete list of all my parfait posts, click here. If you have any questions about any of the ingredients in any of my creations, just shoot me an email!

Happy parfait-making!


VeggieGirl said...

Love the story of how you started enjoying parfaits; and of course I love all of your perfect parfait (haha, a repeat of words) ideas/variations!!

Maggie said...

You just inspired me to make a parfait this week for breakfast (I need to get out of my oat bran rut!!). I'm going to WF tonight to find some soy yogurt and yummy cereal.

Anna said...

wow that is quite the line-up of photos!

Jaime said...

i buy them @ the store :)

carolinebee said...

o caroline, you are such an ar-teest my dear :D! Congrats on your race wow!!

Sarah (lovINmytummy) said...

Those are some gorgeous parfaits!

How do you eat them and maximize getting bits of each layer without flinging the top layer everywhere? Or do you just eat them layer by layer? That's my only issue with the parfait!

Marianne said...

I always love all your parfait creations - they are very pretty in the parfait glasses. I would totally make them if I had some good glasses to do so in. It's not as fun if you can't see all the layers!

And I remember being at some restuarant while away for a skating competition, and they had a parfait on the menu, so I happily ordered it instead of my usual french toast, and I was like you. I liked it so much, I had the same thing when we went back the next day!

flower said...

Yum yum :)

howunremarkable said...

Yum, those all look amazing!

K said...

I don't know what I love more - your parfaits or the parfait glasses :)

Erin of Care to Eat said...

Your parfaits always look incredible!

Lauren said...

I LOVE all of your parfait ideas... I've got to get a parfait glass ;)

ChickPea said...

VG: I know; I thought of your clever word-play when I was creating a post title:)
To everyone else: I purchased my parfait glasses for about $1.50 each at a local "Variety store," but I saw the exact same glasses at World Market last weekend...not sure if they're the same price though. Just thought I would pass it along so that you all might get crackin' on your parfait creations!