Monday, October 3, 2011

Healthy Breakfast Parfait

I was thinking a lot on making something different out of regular breakfast cereal flakes, after one of my very good friends asked me if I had such a recipe. I knew about crushing cereal and using it as a crust for cakes or baking chicken. But you wouldn't want to eat either of it if you are watching your diet or prefer a light breakfast. And then it came to me....A Parfait!!!
A parfait is technically a frozen or cold, creamy and/or fruit dessert. The word means "perfect" and it is, esp. if you have it from a French or Italian delicatessen where they will serve it with heavenly layers of gelato, custard, icecream, caramel, butterscotch, fruits, granola, toasted nuts etc etc in a pastry shell or delicate dessert goblets.
But at MMP, I'm not intruding with the heavenly order of things and mess up a delicious recipe. I'm also not talking about recreating the one with loads of calories and sold at fast food chains.
When Mamma makes the Parfait, its for the dear ones, keeping in mind their health and also the taste and ease to put it together.
This recipe holds good for 2 adults and 2 kids. Adjust the quantities as per necessity. Also, it doesnt matter what fruit you put in. Just stay clear of citrus fruits. If your fruit has skin, its better removed. Berries are good, no matter which. So here goes the recipe:-

Fruit of your Choice---Like berries, Bananas, Melon cubes---about 1/2 cup per person * Do read about possible combinations below*
Your favorite cereal---1 serving... usually 1/2 cup
Toasted and chopped nuts of your choice: almonds/walnuts/ macadamia/ pecans---to garnish
Whipped Cream and Cherries---Optional and not optional if you need to impress someone or feed kids ;-)
Yogurt---1 cup per person (Fruit yogurts work great, but good plain yogurt sweetened just enough with Splenda or Sugar works awesome too. )

A Parfait is all about pretty layers. You could have it in a trifle bowl with a dozen, thin, see through-bowl layers or 3 or 4 layers in a dessert goblet or bowl, to serve individually.  And having all the separate ingredients ready at hand in separate containers or grouped in a big plate will actually make it easier. So take a pretty glass bowl or a big fat dessert glass and lay the foundation with fruit. Now to look pretty & yummy, it would be great to have contrasting layers. So go with a dark colored fruit layer and then add a layer of sweet yogurt. Layer cereal close to the top layer because its just too good to have a little bit of crunch in every bite. Use up all fruit and yogurt and when the glass is almost full, top it with the whipped cream and sprinkle the chopped toasted nuts. Now grab a pretty and strong spoon (man, that first spoon is gonna be heavy!) and  sit back and dig in!

Not all fruits and nuts and yogurt flavors go well with each other. So here are some common combos I use in my kitchen. Tried and tested, so go ahead and pick a combo
Berries + Strawberry yogurt + almonds/pistachios/ macadamia
Banana + Vanilla yogurt + almonds/macadamia
Melons + Peach Yogurt + pistachios
Apples + Vanilla/ lemon yogurt + any cinnamon flavored nuts (just sprinkle a little powdered cinnamon on the nuts while toasting and you have cinnamon-y nuts)
Peaches + Vanilla/peach yogurt + almonds/ pecans
I stay away from any citrus fruits, since it can turn too sour for breaking fast and give many heartburn.
And Pineapples and grapes, to me are just not a good fit for parfaits, but raisins and dried pineapple chunks are! But do mind the sugar level in dry fruits.

Fruit Yogurts:-Fruit yogurts when ready-made, contains much more sugar than what we make at home. Not to mention the preservatives in there. I have stopped buying fruit yogurts and stuck to this simple recipe. All you need is your favorite Fruit preserve, and some good old plain yogurt. I dont care if you use sugar free preserves or fat free yogurt....its all going to taste good! For every cup of yogurt, add 1 tbsp of fruit preserve and using a hand-mixer or a whisk (needs working biceps) beat until combined well and fairly homogeneous. My personal favorite is Orange Marmalade and Low-fat plain yogurt. It is never too sweet and appeals to my savory-loving-but-needs-occasional-sugar-rush taste buds. And then eat them as they are, top with fresh fruits or use them in your Paar-faay!!! ;-)

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