My homepage tells me that what is “trending now” pertains to President Obama proclaiming that “most Americans are fed up” with Washington, specifically Congressional Republicans. I am tempted to editorialize, but that would take me far off the trail of fruit and yogurt. I will leave the topic of leadership in Washington with wishing out loud that Harry Truman had bequeathed his legendary “the buck stops here” desk sign to the current leader, to remind him that ultimately, Washington problems are HIS problems…
Okay, let’s stay on topic. Gone are the days when I planned menus for the week, knowing that at dinnertime, the family would congregate around the table and eat together. All of us. At the same time. We did that once recently; actually twice early this week, if you count The Growing One eating two courses ahead of Father and me because he had to be someplace very soon. It’s as close as it gets to a family meal; between their work and work-out nights, and my health-related inconsistencies when it comes to meal planning and prep, sitting down for a meal with the family is mostly a fond memory.
Instead of planning full meals, I am trying to keep the frig and pantry stocked with foods that are as far as possible unprocessed, close to the farm, nutritious, and easy to eat. The new fast foods. Hard-boiled eggs, whole wheat bagels, peanut butter, cut-up vegetables (not the pre-cut), fruit, etc… The Growing One should be topping out a little now that he has hit his 18th year, but with a daily schedule of running and strength training, I somehow have to work in good calories and good protein. These parfaits are a new “go-to”, using Greek yogurt, homemade fruit fillings, and healthier granolas. If you are looking for something completely organic, sugar-free and unprocessed though, look elsewhere. You could also just substitute ingredients that work better for you. I know however, that I have hit on something good when I put a dozen of these in the refrigerator, and 48 hours later, I see 3 left (I had one for breakfast each of the last two days). Three people live here. So much for sharing…
I use plastic cups that are leftover from a wedding or open house or something. I am sure you could find some kind of parfait dish at Goodwill, or just use a small drinking glass. The plastic cups are not expensive though, and we do wash them and re-use.
I have a recipe for a blueberry sauce that I used for the first batch of parfaits, but since I have other frozen fruit that I want to use, I have been adapting the recipe, depending on the fruit. The basic recipe is:
4 Cups of fresh or frozen fruit
1/2 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Cup water
Combine in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, over medium heat. Let boil for 1 minute, or until mixture thickens and clears, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat, remove from the burner, and let the mixture cool. If you don’t use all the mixture, refrigerate until the next time you make the parfaits (it will keep for up to a couple of weeks). I have been cutting the sugar down also, depending on the fruit being used. Black cherries are much sweeter and you can cut the sugar by as much as half. If your frozen fruit has a lot of ice crystals on it, or is jucier, start with half of the water. You can always add more if you see it is too thick when it begins to boil. You want a fruit mixture that would be the consistency of jam. In fact, I did use some homemade peach jam in a batch, but it is much sweeter, more like a dessert, and I know had lots more sugar than we need. Oh, but it was good!
I have not done exact measurements (oh no!) when assembling the parfaits; depending on the size of cup you are using and the size of the people that will be eating them, you can make the adjustments. To start though, for 6 of these, I would use a full quart (32 oz.) of Chobani vanilla yogurt. Line up your containers on the counter, and put enough yogurt in to completely cover the bottom and give you a good base. You can see from the picture-don’t start with too much, you still have a lot to put in!
Add about a tablespoon of your fruit mixture, and use the back of the spoon to spread it into a layer that covers the yogurt. Sprinkle granola over that, just enough to cover the fruit layer. Repeat with yogurt, fruit and granola. You may want a little extra yogurt on the top. Cover and refrigerate. I don’t know how long they will keep, as mine have never lasted more than 3 days.
The combinations are only limited by your imagination. In the first batch I used blueberry sauce and Kashi Toasted Berry Crumble. Then I did peach fruit (not the jam batch; but a peach sauce using fresh peaches and the recipe above) with a vanilla almond granola. Also, there were a few mixed: one layer peach, one layer blueberry, with the vanilla granola, that were very good. This week I used a fruit mix from Sam’s that includes peaches, strawberries and mango, with Kashi Honey Almond Flax, and another batch that had dark sweet cherry fruit and a protein granola from Nature Valley that has oats and dark chocolate. My son asked about coffee yogurt; I think when I make them tomorrow I will try a coffee yogurt/raspberry fruit with the Berry Crumble. We also thought we would try a vanilla yogurt swirled with caramel apple dip, then layered with an apple sauce and probably a cinnamon granola. I like the Kashi and this particular Nature Valley granola because of the protein content. There are many granola recipes on the internet if you would rather make something less expensive and more tailored to your needs.
We are all enjoying the portability and variety that these parfaits offer. So far, they have been a favorite component to keeping the guys around here “fed up”.