Berry Vanilla Yogurt Parfait

My kids love going to the ice cream or frozen yogurt store and selecting all the various candy toppings for their dessert.  It's so tough to stop them from piling them on!  This parfait allows younger kids to participate in making their own custom made dessert, except that it's much healthier.  It's especially perfect for pre-school age children because they can use their hands without having to handle dangerous kitchen tools.  In addition to dessert, it also makes for a great breakfast food or after school snack.

Here are the ingredients I used for my recipe:

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

1 cup grass fed vanilla yogurt (whole milk)

1 tbsp jam or marmalade

1 tsp toasted coconut chips (store bought) 

First, put 1/8 cup blueberries into any vessel of your choice, such as a glass or bowl.  (I used a wine glass for a little extra pizzazz!  My kids thought it was the coolest thing!)  Spoon 1/4 cup of yogurt on top, then add 1/8 cup strawberries, followed by another 1/4 cup of yogurt.  Drizzle the jam or marmalade.  Continue layering until all the ingredients are done.  Top with the coconut chips for that extra crunchiness.  I also rimmed the glass with turbinado sugar.

If your kids are too young to use a knife to slice the strawberries, they could also mush them with their hands.  Also, I know there are so many options for yogurt at the grocery store, it can really be overwhelming.  Because it's healthier, I recommend any grass fed, whole milk yogurt, either plain or in a flavor of your kid's choice.  If you're more adventurous, you could also make your own yogurt at home using an Instant Pot.  I will be putting up a post very soon showing you how to do it!  It's not as hard as you might think!   

Feel free to let your kids get as creative as they want and mix up the ingredients.  Some other ideas include granola, your children's favorite cereal, nuts, and other fruits. 

The parfait will sit well for up to two days in the fridge.       

Goat Cheese and Almond Stuffed Dates

Summer is a time for entertaining, and my friends are always asking me to recommend some quick appetizers with a bit of a wow factor to serve their guests.  Let's face it - you want to be having fun with your guests, not spending all your time sweating in the kitchen.

This appetizer has only five ingredients, takes literally seconds to assemble, and best of all, everyone will think you're a professional chef!  (Full disclosure: if you don't already have all of the ingredients at home, it may require some advance shopping.)

Here are the ingredients in my recipe:

12 pitted dates 

1/4 cup goat cheese 

1/2 cup crushed almonds (unsalted or salted)

2 tbsp chopped parsley 

Pinch of salt

I have a soft spot for dates because they're used a lot in Indian cooking (I'm Indian-American).  I grew up eating them; my Mom would frequently add them to her Indian dishes, like raita and biryani.  Another great thing about dates is that they're a healthy snack for kids and help to curb their sweet tooth.

To make this appetizer, first crush the almonds in a Ziploc bag with a mallet or rolling pin.  Then mix the almonds with the chopped parley in a small bowl.  In another bowl, add the salt to the goat cheese.

Spoon some goat cheese into the cavity of a pitted date.  Be generous!  Dip the date in the almond and parsley mixture.  

Repeat until you've exhausted your supply of dates, and you're done!

If you want to see how I do it, check out this quick video on Instagram.

Goat Cheese & Almond Stuffed Dates | wannabeelicious

The burst of flavors and textures are so well balanced, from the creaminess of the goat cheese to the crunchiness of the almonds to the gooiness of the dates - your guests will love it!

Grilled Summer Vegetables

A colorful medley of roasted peppers, asparagus, fennel, and endive

A colorful medley of roasted peppers, asparagus, fennel, and endive

Summer is almost here, and I love to grill vegetables because it's easy, healthy, and here's the best part: you can use the leftovers for the rest of the week in things like eggs, pasta, and wraps.  It's the gift that keeps on giving!  

Okay I'll admit, a plate of grilled vegetables is not the easiest sell for kids.  This one's more for the adults.  But if your kids eat at least two of the vegetables, I'd consider that a success.  (Just because I'm a chef doesn't mean that I'm immune to the whims of my kids when it comes to eating.  But still, I try to expose them to vegetables as much as I can because otherwise all they'd want to eat is pizza and chicken tenders.) 

For my vegetable medley, I used asparagus, baby tri-colored peppers, endive (halved), and fennel (quartered).  Corn on the cob would have made a great addition as well, but unfortunately I didn't have any at home.  Before putting the vegetables on the grill, I mixed them with a homemade marinade in a large bowl.  My marinade consisted of:

1 tbsp tarragon (chopped)

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp pepper

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

I then squeezed juice from two oranges and a lemon on top of the vegetables in the bowl.

I set the grill on low to medium heat and spread out the vegetables on the grill.  I also included the oranges and lemon I had used earlier because putting them on the grill helps more juice to come out.  (I later squeezed them on the vegetables after grilling as a finishing touch.)    

I grilled the vegetables for a total of about 8 minutes (4 minutes per side).  The fennel takes about 5 minutes longer to cook.  Here's what the vegetables should look like when they're done:

Arrange the vegetables on a plate, crack open a beer, and you're good to go!

Grilled Summer Vegetables | wannabeelicious