The foundation of a parfait is the combination of yogurt, fruit, and granola. It’s a popular snack, found everywhere from large-chain coffee shops to gas station fridges to airport cafes. But did you know that these commercially produced parfaits are often laden with added sugar? For example, a Starbucks parfait packs in 19g of sugar and the version found at Timmies is home to even more ― 25g! That translates to 4.75 and 6.25 teaspoons respectively. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), added/free sugar should be limited to less than 5-10% of our total daily energy intake. This translates to no more than 12 teaspoons of added sugar per day for the average adult. For kids, it’s no more than 6 teaspoons. So that means that a fast food version of a parfait is going to contribute a lot of our daily recommended intake—from nearly half to more than all!
I do want to clarify that some of those grams of sugar will be coming from the naturally found carbohydrates (aka sugars) in the fruits, yogurt, and oats. At present nutrition fact labels unfortunately do not separate added (also known as “free”) sugars from these natural ones, but that may change in the future! For now, we have to rely on the ingredient list. If you see sugar as an ingredient, that means the product has had extra sugar added to it. And if sugar is one of the first ingredients on the list then be aware: there’s probably a lot of it! Now, I’m not saying carbohydrates or sugars are bad or evil. They play a big role in our diets, and it’s important to understand the different types (complex carbs like the ones found in fruits and whole grains vs. simple sugars found in white sugar and honey) and what they do for our bodies. I don’t believe that any food is innately bad, as long as it’s being consumed thoughtfully and in moderation. And one way to ensure moderation is to start making more foods from scratch, at home. Of course, I understand that sometimes there’s absolutely no time for at-home prep, and I get that! There will be crazy busy mornings, long road trips with no other options, and weekends spent at the arena for hockey tournaments. But if we can work towards making that Tim Horton’s parfait the exception and not the day-to-day habit, then we’ll be well on our way to a healthier lifestyle.
And finally, that brings us to today’s creation! A homemade yogurt parfait featuring farm fresh blueberries, a mixture of oats and chia seeds, and plain 2% Greek yogurt sweetened with a touch of our Melon Blossom Honey. Sweetening plain yogurt is a great way to control sugar intake. Pre-sweetened varieties often have an unnecessary amount of sugar added, but plain old yogurt is a bit too tangy for a lot of folks. Adding your own sweetener is a great in-between. The blueberry compote also brings lots of natural sweetness, so between the two this recipe is oh so sweet! Another bonus of this pretty parfait is the fiber it provides. The oats, chia seeds, and berries each contribute fiber and will leave you feeling full and satisfied. Finally, using plain oats and chia seeds vs. a commercially prepared granola will also help cut down the amount of sugar. Store-bought granola often gives the illusion of healthfulness but again is packed full of sneaky sugars. Give this homemade parfait a try and let me know what you think. Feel free to reach out with nutrition-related questions as well!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: None
4 cups blueberries, washed
1 cup water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup oats
¼ cup chia seeds
To begin, make the blueberry compote. Combine the blueberries, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and place on the stovetop over medium/low heat.
Cook the berries with the lid off for approximately 15 minutes. Leaving the lid off while cooking allows for evaporation of some of the liquid, which helps the compote thicken. In this case, while you do want the mixture to thicken, you also want it to be runny enough to mix well with the yogurt.
While the compote cooks, prep your yogurt by whisking it together with the honey and vanilla.
Once the compote is ready, remove from heat. At this point you may allow the compote to cool and then refrigerate for later use. However, you can also use it right away! The warm compote and cool yogurt make a great pair.
Begin to assemble the parfaits! To start, find 4 glass containers – mason jars or drinking glasses both work well. Next, scoop ¼ cup of the yogurt mixture into the bottom of each jar. Top with 2 tablespoons of oats and a ½ tablespoon of chia seeds. Next, spoon in a few scoops of the blueberry compote. Repeat this layering (yogurt, oats, chia seeds, then compote) and top with any extra fresh blueberries.
Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD