Building a Yogurt Parfait

One of my most favorite meals is a yogurt parfait. I make it with plain Greek yogurt and a variety of toppings—the ideas are practically endless! As a registered dietitian, I counsel clients via a mobile web nutrition app. My clients take pictures of everything they eat and I review them. When it comes to eating yogurt, I frequently notice people miss many opportunities to boost its nutrition power! So...

How does this dietitian build a yogurt parfait?

First, I always recommend Greek yogurt because it’s lower in sugar than fruit-flavored yogurt. It also contains twice as much protein compared to regular yogurt. More protein keeps you feeling full longer, which is great for appetite and weight control. Yogurt is also an excellent source of calcium, potassium, zinc, vitamins B6 and B12, and probiotics, which are critical for overall health.

Second, I love adding some type of fruit. My favorites are berries—blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries. Berries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. They may be little but they’re full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A diet rich in antioxidants supports healthy skin and gets rid of unheathy, damaging free radicals. Both fresh and frozen varieties are equally as nutritious.

Third, if you're new to eating plain yogurt, you might like adding a little honey, a great natural sweetener. Using a little honey ends up being far less sugar than what’s in sweetened yogurt. Plus, holistic practitioners consider it one of nature’s best all-around remedies.

Last, stir in the nutrition-boosting toppings. Here are oodles of ideas to take your parfait from average to amazing!

Cinnamon: This is one of my favorite additions and I add it every time. Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, may be effective in controlling blood sugar after eating, has anti-microbial activity, and provides high amounts of calcium, fiber, and manganese. It also doesn’t have any calories!

Cashews or Slivered Almonds: They’re a healthy fat and protein source, and eating one ounce of tree nuts per week is associated with a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of risk factors that leads to diabetes and heart disease.

Goji Berries or Goji Berry Powder: Goji’s are packed with phytonutrients and are one of the most nutritionally dense fruits on the planet and have been long revered in Tibet for its health promoting effects. 

Chia Seeds: They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids along with a ton of other nutrients. I especially love how they help with hydration due to their ability to absorb up to 9-10 times their weight in water!

Flaxseeds: These don’t add much flavor, but they’re full of protein and fiber, along with a ton of other vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.

Coconut Flakes: I like to add a little fat to my yogurt because fat keeps you feeling fuller for longer  and adds satiety, which is that feeling of fullness. Coconut is high in medium chain fatty acids, which are fats that lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. One fat in particular is Lauric acid, which is shown to support immune function and has antiviral and antifungal properties.

Cacao Nibs: Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume. These nibs add an amazing crunch to my yogurt parfaits! They also contain all of the fiber, fat, and nutrients that the cacao bean does. 

Hemp Hearts: as if this parfait isn’t high enough in protein, hemp hearts will add additional protein, and they’re also one of the highest plant-based sources of heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are a rich source of iron, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus, as well as lots of B-vitamins.

Done! Stir it up and you have a delicious yogurt parfait full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients. This meal is also the perfect ratio of protein to carbs to fat. Enjoy and it’s ok if you’re hooked after this!

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

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