Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Recipe: Cherry Almond Vanilla Parfait

There's only a few more days left in National Nutrition Month!!

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to host a special NNM event exclusively for our assisted living residents. The theme of the afternoon was "Power Up with Protein!" Protein plays a vital role in everyone's overall health-- in building and maintaining lean muscle mass, supporting a strong immune system, healing wounds or recovering from illness, etc. As an athlete, I consider protein an essential part of my daily diet to support and recover from training sessions: when we work hard, our body's require protein to rebuild muscle and enhance recovery.

Variety is the spice of life and one message I was eager to share with our residents is that you don't need to eat meat (or a lot of it) to "meet" your dietary protein needs. Plant-based proteins, dairy products and grains are hidden sources of protein that are often overlooked. One popular source of quality protein these days is greek yogurt, so I chose to include with our presentation a yogurt parfait bar for a delicious make-your-own afternoon snack!

Highlights from our "Power Up with Protein" Activity

Breaking down greek yogurt

Here's a question I am often asked: Why is greek yogurt is considered superior to regular yogurt, and what is the difference in how it's produced? In general, yogurt is produced by adding healthy bacteria to milk, which causes fermentation and the transformation of lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid. The process gives yogurt its distinct tart flavor and imparts many health benefits, including the promotion of gut health due to the probiotics (or "live, active cultures") found in yogurt. Yogurt is also rich in Calcium, B-12, B-2, Potassium & Magnesium. 

The step in the yogurt making process that sets greek yogurt apart is the process of straining it through a cheesecloth. Regular yogurt is typically strained twice, whereas greek yogurt is strained three times or more which results in a thicker consistency and more concentrated nutrient content. product with a higher concentration of whey protein to calorie ratio. Greek yogurt is also naturally lower in carbohydrate (before added sugars) than regular yogurt. Due to the thicker concentration, greek yogurt has a higher concentration of whey protein and probiotics, and is also naturally lower in carbohydrate. The probiotics aid in digestion, absorption of nutrients and boost overall immune health.

After talking shortly about the importance of protein in the diet, each participant was able to make their own custom yogurt parfait as a snack! I love a good yogurt parfait for the simple fact that it can be customized ANY way you want it. In the recipe below, I chose to incorporate tart cherries because of their antioxidant content which is also shown to aid in muscle repair and improve recovery for enhanced sports performance. 

Protein + carbs + antioxidants + deliciousness = a winning combo in my eyes!


6oz greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1 tbsp tart cherry juice concentrate
1/4 c. granola of choice
1 tbsp slivered almonds
1 tbsp dark chocolate chips
1/4 c. diced fresh cherries 
 1 tbsp dried tart cherries
1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)


Combine yogurt with tart cherry concentrate and blend well.  Top with remaining ingredients.
I recommend making these in a medium-sized mason jar, which makes for convenient travel and is pretty too!

Nutrition Facts Via MyFitnessPal: 437 kcal, 56g carbohydrate, 16g fat, 25g protein

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Enjoy the taste of eating right by experimenting in making your own yogurt parfait! 
Happy Wednesday!!!


  1. I love Greek yogurt, and eat it almost every day because of the high protein content. Unfortunately, my lactose intolerance seems to be getting worse, so I'll probably have to stop eating it :( What else can replace my beloved yogurt with the same nutrition profile?

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