Today we're launching the first of a weekly series of recipes, focused in August and September on back-to-school: healthy lunches, breakfasts, and after-school snacks. We're kicking of back-to-school with a recipe for breakfast - fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait - that will give your little Rangers the energy and protein to get them through their morning class time.
It’s easy to fall into the cereal rut. It’s a two-step maneuver – pour cereal, pour milk – and in a moment’s time breakfast is on the table. Reaching outside the breakfast box can be a challenge with young palates that are accustomed to starting their day with sugary O’s and star-shaped marshmallow moons, but a fruit and yogurt parfait can be just as easy to prepare and boasts a significant nutritional edge if made with the right ingredients.
Start with nonfat or low-fat vanilla or plain Greek yogurt, which has a creamier texture, more protein and less sugar than regular yogurt. The tangy taste of Greek yogurt can be an adjustment for kids used to flavored varieties, so adding their favorite fresh fruit gives it a burst of familiar flavor without the extra sugar. Mix in slices of a cold (refrigerated) ripe banana and either keep it simple or improvise from there with a handful of fresh or frozen berries, or even sliced peaches or nectarines when in season.
Presentation is key when bringing something new to the table, so try spooning the parfait in a fun clear glass like one of those martini or margarita glasses that are sitting unused in the back of the cabinet. Top the whole thing off with a few spoonfuls of low-fat, lower sugar store-bought granola or make homemade granola to keep the sugar and fat in check. The Rangers llove the recipe below, which is made with heart-healthy olive oil and packs in a variety of nuts and seeds that offer a good source of fat.
Making granola from scratch is surprisingly easy and something kids can help out with also. They can measure out the ingredients (a little math is a good thing to have in any kitchen) and use their hands to mix the nuts and oats together. Most importantly, while it bakes you can tackle other tasks around the house – that umpteenth load of laundry or, conveniently, washing the dust off those martini glasses for breakfast the next morning.
Fruit and Greek Yogurt Parfait with Granola
- 2 cups (16 ounces) nonfat or low-fat vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
- 2 large bananas that have refrigerated overnight, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (berries, peaches, nectarines) – Optional
- 1 cup granola (recipe below)
- 4 sundae, martini or margarita glasses
Mix yogurt with fresh fruit. Spoon into glasses. Top each with ¼ cup of granola.
Olive Oil and Maple Granola
Makes 7 cups
Notes: The great thing about granola is that you can easily customize it based on personal taste and availability of ingredients. Not a fan of pecans? Feel free to use slivered almonds instead. Can’t find unsweetened coconut chips at the store? Swap in extra seeds and oats instead. Think of this recipe as a template – as long as you are using the same quantity of raw ingredients (7 cups total), it will turn out just fine!
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1 cup raw pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
- 1/3 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, and unsweetened coconut chips in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar and sea salt and mix together with your hands, making sure to break up any clumps of brown sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and maple syrup. Pour over the granola mixture and stir until evenly distributed.
Spread the granola out onto the baking sheet and bake for approximately 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. If you enjoy your granola a bit clumpy (and who doesn’t?), don't stir any more frequently so it can shellac together a bit in the oven. When evenly toasted and brown, remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Again, avoid stirring, and feel free to push it together a bit as it cools so it creates delicious clusters. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
Granola Nutritional Information:
Serving Size: ¼ cup, Calories: 180, Fat: 12 grams, Saturated Fat: 3 grams, Sodium: 99 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 18 grams, Dietary Fiber: 2.5 grams, Sugar: 8 grams, Protein: 3 grams