12 Jun 2012
Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t all carrot sticks and leafy greens. We all need a little indulgence now and then, but that doesn’t mean you have to betray healthy habits.
I used to reach for tollhouse-style cookies when my sweet tooth took hold (which was quite often!), but over the years, I’ve learned to replace the ingredients I use with more nutrient-rich options that don’t cause the dreaded sugar rush / crash effect. Here are just a few of the healthy food swaps I used to make these parfaits:
Whole Grain Cereal – By choosing brown rice cereal that is just lightly sweetened to make the crumbles, I’m forgoing quite a bit of added sugar (when compared to regular crumbles), and getting a little extra dose of fiber and protein.
Coconut Oil – Though higher in saturated fat, coconut oil is one of the new darlings of the healthy food market. I like to use it in place of butter or margarine. The nutritious coconut oil claims are abundant, but like any food, I use it in moderation.
Raw (preferably local) Honey – Honey is still a sweetener, no doubt. However, as a whole food (rather than highly processed like refined white sugar), scientists believe that honey has some nutritive value. In fact, raw honey is said to have natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. To preserve its healthy benefits, I like to avoid cooking raw honey. If strictly vegan, agave nectar or pure maple syrup are good options.
Raw Cashews – Instead of dairy cream, which is mostly fat (and saturated at that), I use cashews, which help to bulk and thicken better than cream, are a good source of protein, and are one of the lowest fat nuts. Plus, about 75% of the unsaturated fatty acid content in cashews is oleic acid, the same “heart-healthy” monounsaturated fat found in olive oil.
Berries – Even low carb and paleo dieters splurge on berries. High in antioxidants and vitamins, and low on the GI scale, berries get the go ahead from most and are something I like to enjoy in abundance during the summer months. Since many berries, such as strawberries, are often sprayed liberally with pesticides, I splurge on organic whenever possible.
Now, make this dreamy parfait and enjoy all of these wonderful ingredients together …
Dairy-Free Berries ‘n Creme Parfaits
Summary: Don’t let the long instructions fool you, this recipe is super fast and easy to make (I just tend to be wordy)! This recipe is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and peanut-free. Make it vegan too, by using agave, maple syrup, or your choice of sweetener in place of the honey. If you need a purely nut-free option, try using sunflower seeds in place of the cashews.
- 1 Cup Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice with Mixed Berries Cereal
- 1 Tablespoon + 2 Teaspoons Coconut Oil or Cocoa Butter,
melted and divided
- 1 Tablespoon + 4 Teaspoons Raw Honey (can substitute agave
nectar for vegan), divided
- 2 Ounces Raw Cashews (roughly 1/2 cup)
- 1 Cup Berries + Extra for Garnish (see note below)
- 1/4 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 25mg Scoop Pure Stevia Extract (powdered), or sweeten to taste
with favorite sweetener
Place the cereal in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil or cocoa butter with 1 tablespoon of the honey or agave. Pour the coconut-honey mixture over the cereal, and stir to thoroughly coat. Don’t be afraid to get in there and stir with your hands!
Spread the cereal mixture on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and place in the freezer to chill while you make the rest.
Grind the cashews in your spice grinder or small food processor.
Place the ground cashews, 1 cup berries, 2 teaspoons melted coconut oil or cocoa butter, 4 teaspoons honey or agave (you may want to start with less if your berries are really sweet), vanilla, and stevia (if using), in your blender or food processor (I use a small personal blender), and whiz until smooth. If using seeded berries like raspberries or blackberries, some small seeds may remain.
Give it a taste test, and add more sweetener if needed.
You can use it right away, but I prefer to chill it for at least 30 minutes to thicken. If it thickens up too much, whisk in some water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency (at most, I use 2 teaspoons).
Pick two of your favorite wine, champagne, or otherwise cute glasses (pretty glasses make parfaits taste even better!).
Remove the crispy cereal from the freezer and crumble it lightly with your hands.
Dollop half of the berry-cashew mixture into each glass. Top that with half of the crispy cereal crumbles. Repeat the layers using up the other half of each. Top with some more berries, and serve with a long spoon.
On the Berries: In this recipe, I used raspberries, which definitely make for more of a sweet-tart parfait. For sweeter, mostly seedless options, try ripe strawberries, blueberries, or cherries. If you don’t mind those little seeds, blackberries are delicious in this, too. Feel free to sweeten to taste with your favorite sweetener, since the sweetness of berries can vary widely. Berries of any kind are an incredible source of lower GI antioxidants for living a healthy lifestyle, so don’t be afraid to enjoy them generously!
Banana-Berry Option: If you are a banana-berry lover and want to bulk up this parfait with a little more natural sweetness, you can blend ½ of a ripe banana in with the cashew mixture. Skip the water, as the end result will be more yogurt-like in consistency.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Chilling time: 30 minute(s) (optional)
Diet type: Vegetarian, optionally Vegan, Dairy free, Egg free, Gluten free, optionally Nut free, Peanut free, Soy free, Wheat free, Refined Sugar free
Number of servings (yield): 2
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