Did you know that parfait is literally French for “perfect?” I didn’t!
But it certainly makes sense to me. When I’ve got a long day ahead of me and want an easily packable, filling, and delicious snack or small meal, I get out a good lidded jar and start crafting the lovely layers of a homemade yogurt parfait to take along with me. This can be as simple or as extravagant as you like, in terms of the ingredients. Keeping nuts and seeds on hand is crucial for my eating style (pescetarian), as they add protein and fiber into my diet, so I’ll just use a small amount of everything I’ve got. If I buy the big 34oz containers of yogurt and bulk nuts/seeds, I find this is a very affordable option that saves me from crashing into desperate hunger and spending an unnecessary amount of money on something similar out at a a cafe. (Or maybe an item that more closely resembles a muffin.)
With infinite variables to mix with a few base ingredients, the parfait can be reinvented as a consistently interesting and satisfying go-to.
Ingredients and Ideas:
- Greek Yogurt. There are a few great brands out there. I usually go for 2%, as I find the fat helps me feel satiated a bit longer and it has a nice full-bodied creamy texture. Use about 1 cup total, give or take.
- Nuts. Raw sliced almonds or pecans add a good crunch. I’ll buy whole pecans and just break them up with my fingers.
- Seeds. This is where you can add in a lot of variety and texture. I often add in hulled hemp seeds. The link there gives a lot of good information and description about hemp seeds: their overall protein content 34.6%, they have an ideal Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (3:1), and are a good source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron. Ground flaxseed meal adds in more Omega-3’s, fiber, and different texture for the satiety factor. Sometimes I throw in pepitas (pumpkin seeds), too, which are a good source of zinc, but not too many — just enough for some crunch. Chia seeds are always an option here, too.
- Or… Granola! Remember my simple granola? Yeah… that would be pretty awesome here. Use in the place of nuts/seeds, or supplement as you like.
- Fruit. Slicing up one Banana is a tried and true simple favorite. It’ll make the whole thing quite filling. When in season, I’ll go for a sliced nectarine. So juicy! Of course, a variety of berries will work well, too. Use a small serving what you have on hand and experiment!
- Spices. I almost always add in cinnamon, which, at least in my mind, seems to deepen the natural sweetness in the fruit I use. Ginger or a dash of nutmeg works well, too.
- Bonus… maple syrup. It’s true. Sometimes, even with the added natural sugar of the fruit, I will pour in a little hint of Grade B maple syrup. If you’re not cracked out on refined sugar elsewhere during your day, then go ahead… live a little!
I usually create my parfait in three layers, each time putting in about 1/3 of the yogurt, a small amount of nuts/seeds, and then press the fruit down on top and dust on some spices before the next layer of yogurt. If I’m adding maple syrup, I’ll just put a drizzle on the second layer and another little drizzle on top. It seeps down rather nicely. Just remember to create a good balance with everything and don’t overdo it. This is definitely not a low calorie snack. I eat it on days when I’ve had a Crossfit weightlifting/conditioning session so I can replenish and feel full.
When you’ve layered up to the top, revel in your creation, throw the lid on your jar, put it in your bag, and be on your way! Make sure to refrigerate at your next destination if you aren’t going to enjoy it within an hour or so.