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Secrets of great parfaits

Parfaits can be healthy and are simple to make. Whip up a batch for breakfast — have your kids help — or choose sweeter ingredients to turn the parfait into a fresh, nutritious dessert. While they are easy to assemble, great parfaits have a few secrets in common.

yogurt and fresh berry parfait

Use fresh fruit

Many recipes call for frozen fruit. If berries like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are in season, fresh fruit is always better. However, since the produce you want may not be in season, the secret to a great parfait is to combine frozen fruit with fresh. Select the fruit that is in season in your area, then layer in frozen strawberries.

Add good-quality granola

Whether you make your own granola or pick it up at the store, select a high-quality granola. You want that satisfying crunch that this layer brings to the parfait, so stale or oats-only granola won’t cut it. Choose one that has a mix of grains like oats and seeds or nuts to add flavor.

Make generous layers

Instead of a handful of small layers, create four generously-sized layers. Start in the bottom of your dish or bowl (clear glass if you want to be traditional). Scoop yogurt into the bottom. Next, pile on the berries and granola. If you’re using a mix of fresh and frozen berries, this is the layer to use up the frozen. Follow this layer with another scoop of yogurt and top the entire dish with fresh berries. If you want to be fancy, garnish the top with a bit of granola. If you’re a perfectionist, or if you’re serving parfaits at a party and want them to look perfect, create one layer at a time, then pop the dish into the freezer for a couple minutes. You’ll set each layer so that they are more precise-looking.

Mix up the flavors

Though parfaits make great breakfast dishes, you can also mix up the flavors to make them a tasty dessert. As a dessert, a parfait is like a healthy alternative to the traditional ice cream sundae. Choose flavored yogurt instead of plain for added flavor. You can also drizzle a sweet topping like honey or agave nectar in between the layers. Stir chocolate chips in with the granola layers — go for dark chocolate if you want to keep the dessert more nutritious. Or, choose ice cream sundae toppings like coconut shavings, chopped nuts and candy-coated sunflower seeds.

Watch: How to make a fruit and yogurt parfait

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