Perfect parfait

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Un yaourt parfait, s’il vous plaît! 

One yogurt parfait, please!

Parfait means perfect in French.

One bowl of this perfection can give you probiotics, calcium, protein, fiber, complex carbs, immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals unique to each fruit—just to name a few of the benefits this power-packed meal has to offer.

It is so easy to make, and with endless combinations of fruits, nuts, seeds, granola, and syrups, you can make yourself a complete, perfectly-healthy, well-balanced snack, rich in complex carbs, protein, good fats, and nutrients, in under 5 minutes.

I was inspired to make today’s yogurt parfait because kiwi is in season here. I had pomegranate lying around so I thought, why not throw them in together! Instead of granola, I chose to use sesame seeds, dry coconut, and a little bit of brown sugar.

I used Greek yogurt because I happened to have it, but just in case you don’t have it handy, then a simple alternative to Greek yogurt is to take 1 cup of regular yogurt, place it in a muslin cloth or a cheesecloth, tie the cloth at the top, place it in a filter or a strainer over an empty bowl that will collect the whey for at least 15 minutes. You can leave it in longer if you want all the whey to drain out. I then refrigerate the yogurt in the same straining contraption for at least 10-15 minutes, longer is even better.

This parfait bowl will give you a unique tart flavor from the yogurt, kiwi, and pomegranate, and two types of sweetness from the brown sugar and honey.

Recipe:

½ cup Greek yogurt (or the alternative)

1 kiwi (firm, not overly-ripe)

½ a pomegranate

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp desiccated coconut

½ tsp brown sugar

Yield: 1

Lightly toast the sesame seeds and desiccated coconut, and set them aside to cool. You can toast larger batches of this mix and keep it handy. Once this mix has completely cooled, toss in the brown sugar.

Peel and dice the kiwi into quarters. Deseed the pomegranate.

Now, all that’s left to do is assemble everything by topping the yogurt with the fruits, the sesame, coconut, and brown sugar mix, and honey.

This dish tastes best when every ingredient is chilled.

© https://padmadivakaruni.com

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My Superfood duet

Just as the Incas, Aztecs, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and other ancient civilizations, I like my grains to be ancient too! Our ancestors thrived on einkorn, quinoa, sorghum, freekeh, spelt, farro, millets, barley, teff, buckwheat, amaranth, and other superfoods for thousands of years, and thanks to ancient food grain revivals worldwide, these superfoods have found their way into my lovely home kitchen.

With these superfoods becoming available in the local grocery chains and at the click of a few buttons on grocery delivery apps, it would be a shame for me to not fully exploit this worldly-fare, and indulge in some new culinary experiments of my own.

Today’s experiment involves a superfood duet of quinoa and buckwheat with a sautéed spicy sweet potato dish on the side.

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Buckwheat and quinoa

Buckwheat is not a type of wheat, it is also not a grain—but it is a seed. It is called a pseudocereal, meaning, a seed that is cooked and eaten just as cereals are. Pseudocereals cook much faster than other grains like rice or wheat. The hulled and roasted buckwheat seeds called groats, are boiled to be eaten as cereal, pudding, or are popularly eaten as a porridge called kasha in countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. The Japanese use buckwheat flour to make their traditional and wildly popular soba noodles. Buckwheat pancakes such as blinis and crepes are made in many countries.

Quinoa or Quinua (as it is more commonly written in South America), like buckwheat, is a pseudocereal. It has been a staple food in South American countries such as Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile for thousands of years. The Incas considered quinoa to be a sacred crop and even called it ‘chisaya mama’ or ‘mother of all grains’Arroz de Quinua or quinoa rice is a dish that is cooked just like rice, and served as an accompaniment to other main dishes. Quinoa is traditionally eaten in sweet and savory dishes, in salads and appetizers, purees, soups, bread, in main dishes and stews — paired with vegetables, meats and seafood, and in desserts as cookies, cakes, and puddings, and quinoa flour is even added to beverages.

Buckwheat and quinoa are gluten-free and vegan, and they are rich in protein, nutrients, dietary fiber, essential amino acids, and they both have a low glycemic index of about 55—some of the many reasons why they are dubbed superfoods.

I slow-cooked the quinoa and buckwheat and once they became fluffy, I finished them off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. I then sautéed chopped spring onions, cashew nuts and sweet potato wedges in olive oil and once cooked, I tossed in par-boiled green peas, and I finished the dish off by searing the sweet potatoes for a quick minute on the highest heat setting to caramelize them. Who doesn’t love crispy potatoes!

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Two ancient grains were passed down from one generation to the next for thousands of years, surviving severe weather phenomena, conquerors and colonizers, wars, changes to agricultural practices, and eating practices—two grains from two different parts of the world, made it onto my dinner plate today, and warmed my soul on a cold and rainy Sunday evening.

Undoubtedly, this superfood duet, which is steeped in the richness of taste and food history, was devoured along with second-servings, moments after the picture was taken.

-Padma