Everyone who has ever been in a deli in a major American city has probably come across a yogurt parfait.  The first time I had one, I was honestly surprised at how delicious it was, and had a sudden pang of fear. The kind of fear that comes with ordering what you thought was an innocent cup of coffee and finding out in it actually has 400 calories and 17 grams of fat, or ordering the Green Salad with Chicken Strips at McDonalds and finding out you might as well have ordered the Quarter Pounder with Cheese. This was too creamy, too sweet and gooey to be good for you. It was dripping with honey and what appeared to be crushed Graham crackers. I had a very uneasy feeling that I may have been eating cheesecake for breakfast.

I don’t really know if my misgivings were founded. I have asked a couple of deli employees what’s in them, but my unwillingness to badger disinterested young immigrant men who did not make the thing in the first place prevented me from getting any reliable information, other than that it was vanilla yogurt. I am going to assume low-fat yogurt, as that is usually the default, but it may have been full fat yogurt. I know restaurants often use the richest possible ingredients for maximum deliciousness, so why not delis.  So I decided to deconstruct the parfait and make it to my own dietary allowances. Oh, and save about $3.50 a pop.

Yogurt Parfait


2/3 cup yogurt ( I use nonfat, with no loss of overall richness)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
Sweetener of choice (I use a packet of Equal, honey would also be great)

(the above ingredients can be substituted with 2/3 vanilla yogurt, but then you can’t control the fat and sugar content)

Chopped fruit (melon, strawberries, grapes, pineapple,mango, banana, whatever. Dried fruit also works)

Granola or any crunchy cereal you fancy.

Whisk together yogurt, vanilla and sweetner until smooth and creamy. I find this step very important, otherwise the yogurt just has the wrong texture.

Layer in clear drinking glass or parfait glass: granola, fruit yogurt, granola,  fruit, yogurt, granola, fruit. Sure, you could just throw it all in a bowl. If you have no standards. We’re not animals, you know.

If you really want to recreate the deli experience, cover with wrap and put fridge for a few hours, to allow the granola to absorb the moisture and get all soggy. If you like that kind of thing. Otherwise consume immediately for maximum crunch factor.