20191004-law-hill-col

Stephanie Hill/The Lawrence Herald

A parfait in a jar is a delicious, healthy way to start your day.

“I rely on breakfast to give me a kickstart of energy in the morning, so I choose my foods accordingly.” — Mikaela Shiffrin

“A plant-based diet has actually simplified my life in so many ways. For breakfast, I try to get my first serving of fruits and nuts for fuel.” — Michelle Forbes

As a kid, I loved breakfast. I could not wait to get up and eat it. Part of my morning enthusiasm probably had to do with the fact that I was often hungry as my mom did not make special, additional foods for dinner for our family of four kids. Her philosophy was, “Here’s what I made the family for supper, if you don’t like it, breakfast is not too far off.” Frankly, it’s a solid practice for which I now wholeheartedly applaud her, but I wasn’t so appreciative as a kid.

In the morning, it wasn’t unusual for mom to have a large pan of scrambled eggs on the stove, alongside stacks of buttered toast on a plate; or, other mornings, she might have a huge pot of oatmeal or cream of wheat from which we could all ladle. We did not, per se, and sit and eat as an entire family on school/work day as that was saved for special weekend breakfasts. Instead, mom got breakfast ready; and then, once each person was ready in the morning, you went to the kitchen to fill up your plate or bowl. Last one in the kitchen meant there might not be much left for you. Unfortunately, for me, as I got older, that usually fell to me — a slow moving morning person.

Even now, I move slowly in the morning. In fact, I wake a full hour before I begin to get ready — a full two hours before I need to leave for work. Part of my reasoning is because that first waking hour is devoted to coffee and productivity — an hour to work on my writing; planning a yoga, fusion, or cycling class; managing a couple of email accounts; folding laundry; packing lunch. . . well, you get the idea. The problem is that I become so highly focused some mornings that I lose COMPLETE track of time. Then, as is the case more often than not, I jump in the shower, already 20 or more minutes behind, and end up rushing out the door in such a hasty fashion that breakfast does not cross my mind until my belly begins to growl on the frantic drive to school!

There are time periods of “breakfast eating perfection.” Last year was a big smoothie phase. I loved, loved, loved exploring all the different ways to get plant-based nutrition in a cup to go. My blender whirred nonstop at least twice a week with breakfast smoothie food prep. Then, I’d hit a busy week, not have as much time for food prep; and then, I’d once more be back to relying on either nothing for breakfast but coffee or bits and bites of plant-based protein bars.

While I’d love to say that this school year I have reformed my distracted ways, but the truth is, I am still neck deep in spurts of breakfast brilliance, and even greater spans of nutritional neglect. Still, when I am feeling a fit of inspiration, I am all-in ... at least for a week (or until mid-week)! That said, I do love the notion of fully embracing three meals of whole, plant based foods sans any processed, packaged, chemically engineered nutrition. Sigh, maybe one day . . .

One of my more recent fits of nutritional, whole food achievement attempts involved portable parfaits. This was inspired by a recent trip to Lewisburg, West Virginia. Before hiking six miles of the 78-mile long Greenbrier River Trail, my husband, John, and I ate at Retro Donuts and more. While he enjoyed a breakfast sandwich on donut bread (Yes, you read that right—donut bread), I scarfed up a super-sized fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait. Made with nonfat Greek yogurt, house-made granola — complete with oats, seeds, and nuts — layered with mixed berries, this stack of whole food yumminess was delicious; and, totally replicable, I decided. However, I would give it a plant based twist, I decided.

To be clear, I am not 100% opposed to consuming dairy; but, it does not like me as a general rule. Plus, a true plant-based eater does not consume dairy. However, like my flurries with breakfast preeminence, my 100% devotion to avoiding dairy vacillates at times.

Sigh (again), still my intentions are worthy; and, maybe one day will be fully attained. In the meantime, my goal of using my morning time wisely without running late, while still maintaining time to full compliance of daily consumption of whole-food, plant-based, breakfast looms largely and nobly in front my idealistic self . . .

In the meantime, here’s my recipe for portable parfaits of breakfast righteousness meant to be eaten on the go if need be; or, as a casually made-ahead morning meal. Like so many recipes, think of it as scaffolding. Modify, swap-out, and change ingredients to suit personal taste and health goal preferences. It is perfect for those weeks you feel inspired to set-aside time to food prep and really focus on your dietary goals.

From my home to yours, I wish you nearly healthy, mostly homemade, and always happy meals!

Portable Breakfast Parfait/Overnight Oats

Ingredients:

½-1 cup of your favorite dairy, or non-dairy, yogurt

½ cup of your favorite grain (granola, oats, grape nuts, and so forth)

½-1 cup (or ½-1 whole piece) of favorite fresh or frozen fruit

1 tablespoon of favorite nuts or seeds (chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, walnuts, slivered almonds, and so forth)

Optional stir-ins: cinnamon, sweetener, vanilla extract, acai powder, cacao nibs, cocoa powder, protein powder, ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (if you like a more pudding like texture as I do in my overnight oats), and so forth

Directions for parfait:

Place 1/3 of yogurt in the bottom of a small resealable glass. (I like canning jars.) Spoon 1/3 of granola over yogurt.

Add nuts/seeds

Top with 1/3 of fruit.

Repeat layering process until all ingredients are used.

Cover with lid and store overnight, or until ready to eat, in refrigerator. Can be stored for several days at a time.

Serves one.

Directions for overnight oats/granola:

Place all ingredients in resealable glass jar. Shake well.

Store overnight, or until ready to eat, in refrigerator. Can be stored for several days at a time.

While this can be served cold, I prefer to heat my glass in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Give it a quick stir. Put the lid back on and allow oats to steam and thicken up a bit more.

This is great served with a dollop of dairy, or non-dairy, redi-whip!

Serves one.

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.

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