By Cecily Walters 2014-05-01 20:47:10
Got yogurt, fruit and grains? Then you’re on your way to offering healthy, tasty parfaits that your students can’t resist! Many Americans are looking for healthier alternatives in a variety of today’s foodservice segments, from high-end restaurants to quick-serve chains to the fresh-prep aisles of local supermarkets. One item with growing visibility is the parfait—and trickledown interest from commercial exposure may mean special success in K-12 school nutrition operations. The opportunity to blend nutritious fruit, lowfat yogurt and a whole-grain crunch in keeping with federal nutrition standards makes the parfait a natural addition to school menus. In fact, when paired with a milk, a 12-oz. parfait that contains 1⁄2 cup of yogurt, 1⁄2 cup of fruit and 1 oz. of a grain topping meets meal pattern requirements for elementary and middle students at breakfast and lunch and the requirement for high school students at breakfast. It’s not just for dessert anymore, but a filling and delicious meal. Before we explore the different ways that you can capitalize on parfait popularity by prepping and serving parfaits in your school nutrition operation, let’s take a look at their origin. The word parfait is French for perfect, and while it would seem that yogurt is a “perfect” base for this dessert, it may surprise you to learn that parfaits didn’t originally feature yogurt. Initially, parfait was coined as a more general term to describe a variety of dishes composed of certain layered foods, a concept thought to date back to the late 1890s. While chefs in the United Kingdom use parfait to refer to a smooth meat paste (pâté) of chicken or duck liver and flavored with liqueurs, it is the French concept of a parfait—a cold or frozen dessert made using a base of sugar syrup, egg and cream—that has gained traction in the United States. Over time, it has evolved to feature ice cream, flavored gelatins and now yogurt. Today, when you see “parfait” on the menu, you typically can expect a tall, clear glass filled with alternating layers of fruit (fresh, canned, frozen or liqueurs), ice cream (or frozen or conventional yogurt) and some kind of crunch like granola, cereal or nuts. Get Ready to Wow Are your students clamoring for parfaits to be included as part of their school meals? If they aren’t yet, they might start once they’ve seen and tasted a few of your offerings! If you haven’t tried prepping and menuing parfaits, take a few cues from experts who shared their advice with School Nutrition. First, as you get started on the path to parfait participation, envision a parfait from the perspective of your student customers. Parfaits typically are served in clear cups, and doing so is to your advantage, as it makes the ingredients completely visible, so that students know what they are getting. Capitalize on this by making sure to include “sensory appeal with colorful layers and pleasing contrasts: tart yogurt and sweet fruit, smooth yogurt and crunchy granola,” suggests Monica Coulter, corporate chef for General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. One school nutrition professional who has found parfaits to be an item that ranks high on her operation’s hit parade is Deborah Taylor, SNS, school nutrition director for Shawnee (Okla.) Public Schools. Taylor understands the appeal of customization—something that’s easy to provide when it comes to parfaits—and initially she established build-your-own-parfait stations at all levels during breakfast. Unfortunately, some principals expressed concern that these slowed up service lines, and now she only offers the make-your-own option at special parties. Even without customization, however, parfaits are super popular with Shawnee students. To prep them for the line, Taylor and her team start with bowls of yogurt (usually one plain vanilla and one fruit flavor), a bowl of granola, another bowl of uncooked oatmeal mixed with nuts (such as slivered almonds, pecans and walnuts) and a variety of fruits. “Surprisingly, frozen fruit works best here,” Taylor reports, citing in particular “sliced strawberries, any other berries you can afford, peaches, mango, apple chunks, pineapple tidbits and kiwi slices.” Borrow some inspiration from the flavored yogurt varieties that you see at your grocery store when considering which specific fruits to offer for your operation’s parfaits, she advises. Taylor serves the parfaits on the line at breakfast. She’s completely amenable to using any that are left over as a choice for lunch or a la carte—but the parfaits never make it past breakfast! What’s the most popular parfait in School Nutrition Director Paula Pohlkamp’s North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District operation in North St. Paul, Minn.? It’s one that features frozen strawberries, blueberries and granola. The parfaits are available as part of the breakfast menu and/or as a la carte lunch options. Depending on the school, students can take prepared parfaits or make their own at a parfait bar. In addition to their popularity with students, Pohlkamp is fond of parfaits from an operational standpoint: They can be a valuable way to use frozen fruit that you may receive as items from the USDA Foods program, she points out. As school nutrition professionals know better than most, what’s hot in one part of the country isn’t always a success in another. Parfaits themselves seem to stand the geographic test, but individual ingredient preferences may vary. While frozen blueberries are embraced in Pohlkamp’s district, they are a flop among the students in Norfolk (Va.) Public Schools, reports Senior Director of School Nutrition Helen Phillips, SNS, who serves yogurt parfaits for lunch once a week in elementary and middle schools and once a week for breakfast at the high schools. Canned peaches and frozen whole strawberries have proven popular, she cites. Now that we’ve looked at some popular fruit ideas, what about the grains? A secret to parfait perfection is found in the crunch, but operators face a challenge in ensuring that the grains don’t get soggy in the time between parfait prep and service. Phillips has found success in making granola available in a separate package provided with the parfait cup so that students can mix in or top as desired. In addition to granola, a bowlpak of cereal, a cereal bar or a whole-grain muffin might be other items to consider serving alongside parfaits. Students in Carrollton City (Ga.) Schools enjoy prepared breakfast parfaits served with cereals in to-go packs. The 1-oz. cereal packs, which some students sprinkle into their parfaits and others eat separately, count as a 1-oz. equivalent grain/bread, notes School Nutrition Director Linette Dodson, MS, RD, LD, SNS. The school nutrition team’s parfaits feature either strawberries or blueberries (see page 56 for a recipe used in Carrollton City Schools’ school nutrition operation). Both parfait varieties have been a huge success in all schools and have increased in popularity to represent a significant portion of the operation’s breakfast participation, especially at the younger grades, Dodson reports. “At least one-third of our students will select this option when it is offered on our menu with three menu selections available,” she notes. A Parade of Parfaits Are you an experienced veteran when it comes to parfait prep? Perhaps you’re ready to take your parfait creations to the next level! General Mills’ Coulter offers some ideas. “I think a cottage cheese parfait would be good. Tapioca, Swiss-style chilled oatmeal, rice and other puddings and flavored gelatins are all good parfait ingredients, and any of [them] can be layered with fruit or with fruit and yogurt and served for breakfast or lunch,” she describes. Alternately, have you thought about making a return to the original concept of parfaits by offering savory or non-yogurt versions? Coulter sees vegetables or grains layered in a clear cup with a dome lid and packaged with a separate 2-oz. soufflé cup of yogurt-based dressing as an “inviting grab ‘n’ go option.” The “shaker salad” concept is familiar to a lot of students, and this idea plays off of that, she notes. Looking for new ways to work legumes into your menu? Experiment with creating parfaits that feature hummus or a taco-spiced bean dip layered with bite-size vegetables, she recommends. From the traditional to the experimental, if you’re ready to offer parfaits in your own operation, getting started may be easier than you think—after all, as Coulter points out, the popularity of parfaits in other foodservice segments means that much of the customer marketing already has been done for you! From an operational standpoint, if you’re looking to save time, consider portioning the initial layers of canned or frozen fruit into parfait cups the day before—then just add yogurt and the rest of the fruit right before service! (In theory, Coulter says, you could assemble the entire dish in advance, but note that some fruit pigments tend to bleed into the yogurt, which may be considerably less visually appealing to students. Intrigued about offering parfaits? Heed the advice of school nutrition colleagues and experiment to find out the ingredients that are the best fit for your operation. Once you determine the greatest hits in your arsenal of ingredients, students will be lining up for the parfait party! MUFFIN CRUMBLE PARFAIT YIELD: 24 servings* INGREDIENTS Bran muffins, small—24 Cinnamon, ground—3 tsps. Yogurt, vanilla, fat-free—12 cups Seedless watermelon, chopped—18 cups Cranberries, dried—3 cups Honey—3 cups Almonds, sliced—3 cups DIRECTIONS 1. Drain the watermelon well; chop into small cubes as necessary. Toast the almonds. 2. Mix the cinnamon and yogurt. 3. To assemble each 12-oz. serving: Crumble one muffin and divide into quarters. Place the first quarter of the crumbled pieces in the bottom of a 12-oz. cup. Spoon 1⁄4 cup of the yogurt on top. Add 1⁄2 cup of the chopped watermelon and 1⁄8 cup of dried cranberries over the yogurt. Spoon another 1⁄4 cup of the yogurt over the watermelon and dried cranberries. Spoon the remaining 3⁄4 of the crumbled muffin pieces over the yogurt. Top with 1⁄8 cup of honey, 1⁄8 cup of almonds and 1⁄4 cup of watermelon, as desired. Photo & recipe: National Watermelon Promotion Board, www.watermelon.org *Notes: If this recipe passes the test with a small group of students, conduct a nutrient analysis. If serving as part of the reimbursable meal, adjust the serving size as necessary to meet current meal pattern requirements. KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS ... • Try different whole-grain items, such as crushed graham crackers, animal crackers, shredded wheat cereal and cinnamon wholegrain cereal flakes instead of the bran muffins. (Using 1 ounce of any of these will count toward the whole-grain serving requirement.) Coffee cake is another cost-friendly option. • We did not have watermelon when testing this recipe, so we used thinly sliced apples and raisins, which really went well with the cinnamon and vanilla yogurt flavors. (The 1/2 cup of apples is equal to 1 fruit serving.) Pineapple is another possible substitution. • We did not think the honey was needed, because all of the other flavors were sweet enough. • The 1⁄2 cup of yogurt in this recipe is equal to 1 meat alternate. • If younger kids don’t like the muffin mixed in with their yogurt, it could be served on the side—which also would reduce sogginess and allow leftovers to be served the next day. • The almonds can be eliminated if they are too costly. If honey is too expensive, try pancake syrup. • The flavor of this recipe was excellent. We had never stirred cinnamon into yogurt before, nor used honey or syrup in a parfait. BERRY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PARFAIT YIELD: 24 servings PER SERVING: 300 cal., 3 g pro., 52 g carb., 4 g fiber, 12 g fat, 8 g sat. fat, 0 mg chol., 25 mg sod. INGREDIENTS Boiling water—1 1⁄2 cups Chocolate chips, semi-sweet—4 cups Bananas, extra ripe—6 Bananas, firm—6 Brown sugar, packed—1 cup Vanilla extract—1 Tbsp. Frozen whipped topping, thawed—7 1⁄2 cups Raspberries, frozen—8 cups DIRECTIONS 1. Unpeel the bananas. 2. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate chips in a small bowl; stir until smooth. 3. Combine the extra-ripe bananas, brown sugar, vanilla extract and melted chocolate in a blender or food processor container. Cover and blend until smooth. Fold in the whipped topping. 4. For each approximately 5.5-oz. serving: Spoon 1⁄2 cup of the mousse mixture into a cup. Slice a firm banana; place 1/4 of the slices over the mousse. Spoon another 1⁄2 cup of mousse over the bananas. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving. Top with two or three raspberries as a garnish. Photo, recipe and recipe analysis: Dole Packaged Foods, LLC, www.dolefoodservice.com *Note: If serving as part of the reimbursable meal, adjust the serving size as necessary to meet current meal pattern requirements. KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS ... • Kids would love the chocolate, and they probably wouldn’t even know the banana was an ingredient! • We substituted fresh strawberries for the raspberries due to price and availability. Strawberries gave the parfait a nice color and flavor, while frozen raspberries will thaw and cause the juice to drain into the parfait’s layers. • This item would count as a partial fruit serving, but would be expensive and exceed calorie limitations in the meal pattern. We would offer it as an a la carte item. STRAWBERRY QUINOA PARFAIT YIELD: 24 servings* INGREDIENTS Greek yogurt—6 cups Honey—3⁄4 cup or 12 Tbsps. Strawberries, stemmed and quartered—24-36 Quinoa—1 1⁄2 cups Almonds, sliced—6-12 Tbsps. Mint leaves—optional for garnish DIRECTIONS 1. Stem and quarter the strawberries. Cook the quinoa. 2. Mix the yogurt and honey together in a small bowl. 3. For each 4-oz. serving: Spoon 1 1⁄3 Tbsps. of the yogurt mixture into a cup. Top with about 1⁄2-oz. of strawberries and 1⁄3 Tbsp. of the quinoa. Sprinkle with a few almond slices. Repeat a second and third time with the same amounts of each ingredient, so there are three layers total. Garnish with mint leaves and drizzle with additional honey if desired. Photo and recipe: California Strawberry Commission, www.californiastrawberries.com, via www.foodiecrush.com *Notes: If this recipe passes the test with a small group of students, conduct a nutrient analysis. If serving as part of the reimbursable meal, adjust the serving size as necessary to meet current meal pattern requirements. SAPPHIRE PARFAIT YIELD: 24 servings* COMPOTE INGREDIENTS Strawberries—16 ozs. Blueberries—8 ozs. Blackberries—4 ozs. Raspberries—4 ozs. Sugar—8 ozs. Cinnamon sticks—2 YOGURT MIXTURE INGREDIENTS Greek yogurt—9 lbs. or 4 35.3-oz. tubs Orange zest—4 oranges Honey—2 cups Granola—24 ozs. Fresh berries—48-72 DIRECTIONS 1. Stem the strawberries. Grate the oranges for zest. 2. To prepare the compote: Combine the four types of berries, the sugar and the cinnamon sticks in a non-reactive metal pot. Cook on medium heat until the juices are released and make a sugary syrup. Once thickened, cool immediately. 3. To prepare the yogurt mixture: In a non-reactive mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, orange zest and honey. For a sweeter parfait, add more honey to taste. 4. For each 8-oz. serving: Place 1 oz. of the cooled compote in the bottom of a cup. Top the compote with 6 ozs. of the yogurt mixture. After all 24 servings have been assembled, any remaining compote can be drizzled on top of the yogurt layer. Garnish each parfait with 1 oz. of granola and two to three fresh berries. Photo and recipe: Sapphire at School, www.sapphireatschool.com *Notes: If this recipe passes the test with a small group of students, conduct a nutrient analysis. If serving as part of the reimbursable meal, adjust the serving size as necessary to meet current meal pattern requirements. BLUEBERRY YOGURT PARFAIT YIELD: 24 servings PER SERVING: 140 cal., 4 g pro., 30 g carb., 2 g fiber, 1 g fat, 1 g sat. fat, 3 mg chol., 57 mg sod., 1 mg iron, 104 mg ca. INGREDIENTS Yogurt, vanilla—96 ozs. or 6 lbs. Blueberries, fresh—12 cups DIRECTIONS 1. For each 4-oz. serving: Portion 1⁄4 cup of yogurt. Top with 1⁄4 cup of blueberries. Layer with an additional 1⁄4 cup of yogurt and top with another 1⁄4 cup of blueberries. 2. Hold the parfaits at or below 41°F until service. Photo, recipe & recipe analysis: Carrollton City Schools School Nutrition Department, Carrollton, Ga., http://tinyurl.com/carrolltoncitysn *Notes: According to the school nutrition operation that provided this recipe, each portion provides 1 meat/meat alternate and 1⁄2 cup fruit component. If serving as part of the reimbursable meal, adjust the serving size as necessary to meet current meal pattern requirements. KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS . . . • This recipe also could include strawberries or raspberries; it is a great presentation. • Strawberries, blueberries and sliced bananas mixed together or separately could be layered with the yogurt as an alternate menu item. • We used frozen cherries instead of frozen blueberries. • This would meet the breakfast requirement for a meat and a fruit. Add a bread/grain item, along with milk, to make a meal. • When we serve yogurt and fruit parfaits in our operation, we serve pre-portioned granola on the side so that it does not get soggy, and if the students do not want the granola, they do not have to take it. BONUS WEB CONTENT Don’t miss additional parfait recipes, supplemental tips from one of the operators interviewed for this article and some ideas for holiday parfaits in online-exclusive content, available at www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazinebonuscontent. Cecily Walters is SN’s managing editor. Photography by serezniy/Jiunlimited.com. Recipes obtained from outside sources and published in School Nutrition have not been tested by the magazine or SNA in a school foodservice setting, except for certain “Kitchen Wisdom” selections, which are evaluated by a volunteer pool of operators. When available, nutrient analyses and meal pattern calculations are provided by the recipe source. Required ingredients, preparation steps and nutrient content make some recipes more appropriate for catering applications or adult meals. Readers are encouraged to test recipes and calculate their own nutrition analyses and meal patterns before adding a recipe to school menus. In addition, SN recognizes that individual schools use varying documentation methods and preparation steps to comply with HACCP principles; we encourage you to add your own HACCP steps to these recipes.
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