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Mother’s Day; the perfect day for a parfait

Five simple ingredients come together to make this delicious and healthy dessert.

Article and photo by Lisa Crockett

I love to get gifts.  Large or small, it’s always a little bit exciting to unwrap something new and novel.  I especially love books and jewelry, but this time of year I also treasure the handmade items my kids have slaved over, keeping weeks of secrets and going on stealth shopping trips with my husband.  Truth be told, I’m good with just about anything wrapped and ready whether it’s simple or extravagant.  One thing I rarely receive, however, is a household appliance.  It’s an old cliché ripped from just about any romantic comedy, an innocent gift of a vacuum cleaner or blender triggers epic discord that threatens to tear a happy couple apart.

For the most part, I’m on board with the no work-creating-gifts rule.  On Mother’s Day, after all, I get the day off, right?  Meal prep, house cleaning, and errands are all someone else’s problem.  But then there are all the other days of the year and occasionally I stumble across a tool or gadget that might truly make my life easier.  And in the interest of easing my own burdens, I throw caution to the wind and buy my own gift.  That way, I get exactly what I want, when I want it.

This year, as it turns out, I really wanted a pressure cooker.  These old fashioned devices are making a modern-day comeback and after hearing the buzz, I was convinced that my life would be better if I had one.  I was not wrong.  Just after I made said purchase, I decided I needed to make beef stew for dinner.  It was late in the afternoon when I made this decision and before I had my pressure cooker, I would have been out of luck unless I wanted to serve dinner around midnight.  With my handy-dandy new toy, the stew was hot and ready in just under an hour.

Buoyed by the beef stew triumph, I began to pressure cook all kinds of things.  Meat and veggies were natural choices, and the speed at which they cook seems almost magical.  Then I discovered that grains that often take nearly an hour to finish (think brown rice and wheat berries) could be ready in about 10 minutes, making them a healthy and time-efficient alternative to less nutritious pasta.

My new pressure cooker is a counter-top model that resembles a slow cooker and allows me to simply throw ingredients into the pot and walk away.  More traditional stove-top models are still available and are having a renaissance of their own, but after hearing horror stories from back in the day of pots that exploded in home kitchens, I’m happy with my purchase.  Apparently, new stove top models have modern safety features that prevent such accidents, but with the chaos that often reigns in my kitchen, something that allows me to set it and forget it was attractive in its own right.

Lately, I’ve been cooking a lot with quinoa.  Touted as a super food, quinoa is exceptionally versatile.  Packed with protein and fiber, it’s a great way to amp up the nutritional profile of any dish. I had bags and bags of it in my pantry waiting to be used, all abandoned in favor of noodles or white rice simply for the sake of getting dinner on the table quickly.  Now, I can make it in my pressure cooker in about six minutes, allowing me to add it to stir-frys and salads, enjoying the mild, nutty flavor it imparts.

The yogurt and quinoa parfaits I’ve shared here are healthy and tasty, perfect for a Mother’s Day brunch or a healthy afternoon snack.  Served in a fancy glass or dish, they look festive and pretty, and if you whip up a batch of quinoa ahead of time and store it in the fridge (where it will keep for several days) they take almost no time to make.

Using this recipe, you can make four small parfaits.  If you’re feeding a crowd, the batch can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled.  With a recipe like this, sharing a healthy treat with loved ones is a gift worth sharing on Mother’s Day, or any day.

Quinoa Parfaits

2 cups strawberry Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup cooked quinoa, completely cooled
8 large strawberries, diced, plus two more for garnish
4 tablespoons granola (optional)

Mix honey with quinoa to coat completely.  Layer yogurt, quinoa, and fruit in small dishes or juice glasses.  Top with granola and half of a strawberry.

Cook quinoa according to package directions and then cool for at least an hour or two in the fridge.  Or, to cook quinoa in the pressure cooker, place a cup of raw quinoa in the pressure cooker along with two cups of water, bring to pressure and cook for six minutes.  Allow cooker to sit for one more minute before releasing the pressure, then cool completely in the fridge.



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