Okay people, I’m super excited.  I’m doing a cookbook giveaway tomorrow and I am positively thrilled about it.  You see, I get an obnoxious amount of inquiries regarding potential product reviews.  Mostly, companies seem to be seeking free advertising via my blog as an outlet but often, the product is the sort of thing I just don’t use in my kitchen – baking mixes, unitasker gadgets, etc.  Since I try to keep the focus on food, I rarely accept these offers.  When I opened this particular email, however, I nearly jumped out of my chair with excitement.  The cookbook?  The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.  You know – the same people responsible for Cook’s Illustrated, my favorite cooking magazine, and Baking Illustrated, my favorite baking cookbook?  Yeah, I was pumped.  It took me about five seconds to agree to this review.  I’ll discuss the book itself in greater detail tomorrow but for today, I am sharing the first recipe I tried from the book: these fruit, yogurt and granola parfaits.

I’m the first to admit, I don’t do the best job with breakfast time.  I have to get up so early and rush out the door so quickly that anything requiring much more effort than a bowl of cereal is too involved for me on a weekday.  However, I knew that if the components for these parfaits were already prepared, the actual assembly was absolutely something I could handle in the morning.  Granola is one of those foods that is often perceived as healthy when in actuality many versions are not exactly nutritious.  This version is definitely good for you, and packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, commonly known as healthy fats.  The use of low-fat Greek yogurt in the recipe provides additional nutritional benefit with more protein than regular yogurt, and is sweetened with honey rather than sugar.  The combination of fresh fruit, thick creamy slightly sweet yogurt and nutty granola was a wonderful breakfast and a welcome change in my routine.  This breakfast filled me up without weighing me down.  Personally the only change I will make in the future will be to omit the sesame seeds from the granola recipe, as I felt they added a slightly odd savory note that just seemed off to me.  Ben, however, loved it as is and ate the majority of the granola before it could be used in more parfaits :)

Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of the cookbook, another recipe from the book, and your chance to win a copy autographed by Christopher Kimball, the publisher and editor of Cook’s Illustrated, etc.

Fruit, Yogurt and Granola Parfaits
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Yield: 4 servings
3 cups 2% Greek yogurt*
¼ cup honey
4 cups raspberries, blueberries, black-berries, and/or sliced strawberries (about 20 ounces)
1½ cups Omega-3 Granola (see full recipe below)

*Note – You can substitute lower-fat Greek yogurt here if desired; however, the parfaits will taste less rich.  Serve the parfaits within 15 minutes after assembling or the granola will begin to turn soggy.

Whisk the yogurt and honey together -thoroughly. Using four 16‑ounce glasses, spoon 1/4 cup of the yogurt-honey mixture into each glass, then top with 1/3 cup of the berries, followed by 2 tablespoons of the granola. Repeat the layering process two more times with the remaining yogurt, berries, and granola. Serve.

Per Serving: Cal 410; Fat 12g; Sat Fat 3.5g; Chol 10mg; Carb 63g; Protein 19g; Fiber 7g; Sodium 95mg

Raspberry and Nectarine yogurt Parfaits with Ginger
Add 1 teaspoon ground ginger to the yogurt with the honey. Substitute 2 cups raspberries and 2 peeled and chopped nectarines for the mixed berries.

Winter yogurt Parfaits with Dates, Bananas, and Oranges
Microwave 1 cup chopped dried dates with 1 cup water on high for 30 seconds; drain and let cool. Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg to the yogurt with the honey. Substitute the softened dates, 3 thinly sliced bananas, and 2 segmented and chopped oranges for the mixed berries.

Omega-3 Granola
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Yield: about 6 cups
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped coarse
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats*
3 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins

*Note – Do not substitute quick-cooking or instant rolled oats in this recipe, or the granola will taste sandy rather than crunchy.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Toast the almonds and walnuts in a 12‑inch skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and beginning to darken, about 3 minutes. Stir in the oats and oil and continue to toast until the oats begin to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sunflower seeds and sesame seeds and continue to toast until the mixture turns golden, about 2 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in the honey, flaxseeds, and salt until well coated. Spread the granola evenly over a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every few minutes, until the granola is light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the raisins. With a spatula, push the granola onto one half of the baking sheet and press gently into a 1/2‑inch-thick slab. Let the granola cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Loosen the dried granola with a spatula, break into small clusters, and serve.  The granola can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Per 1/2‑Cup Serving: Cal 230; Fat 11g; Sat Fat 1g; Chol 0mg; Carb 32g; Protein 5g; Fiber 4g; Sodium 55mg

Omega-3 Granola with Tropical Fruit
Substitute 1 cup chopped dried tropical fruit (such as pineapple, papaya, and/or mango) and 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut for the raisins.

Omega-3 Granola with Cranberries and Ginger
Substitute 3/4 cup dried cranberries and 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger for the raisins.

Omega-3 Granola with Peanut Butter
Substitute 2/3 cup peanuts, chopped coarse, for the almonds and walnuts. Reduce the amount of oil to 2 tablespoons and stir 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter into the oat mixture with the honey and flaxseed.

Source: The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook