These yogurt breakfast bowls are made with vanilla roasted butternut squash and beets, served up as yogurt parfaits layered with creamy nut butter and granola. A low-calorie breakfast recipe perfect for weight loss, it's a savory idea for cooking with vanilla extract.
This post is sponsored by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
I'm just going to come right out and say it.
I kinda hate breakfast.
It's early and I don't feel like cooking and I can barely manage to pour my coffee in the morning, let alone whip up some elaborate meal.
And sometimes I get bored… how many different ways can a person cook eggs?
That was until I started combining sweet and savory at breakfast… why not? If McDonald's can stuff bacon and eggs between pancakes and maple syrup and make an award winning sandwich, who's to say that I can't roast up some root vegetables and made a delicious yogurt parfait?
Turns out, breakfast is kinda great. You just have to layer!
Creamy vanilla yogurt topped with cinnamon and vanilla roasted butternut squash and beets topped with creamy, drizzly almond butter, topped with crunchy, ever-so-slightly salty granola? It's a REVELATION, I tell you.
And you need to make it for breakfast RIGHT NOW–don't worry, you can roast the veg the night before so all you have to do in the morning is layer. Done in less than 3 minutes flat, I swear!
So here's the deal–you know how most recipes add extra fat, calories, sugar or salt to make a dish more delicious?
Well that's just not our way at Root + Revel–we are all about good and good for you, enhancing the flavor of a dish with healthy, pure ingredients, adding complex flavor profiles without tons of calories.
Not only does vanilla extract taste insanely delicious and make everything smell like a warm, fuzzy hug, but it's also got TONS of health benefits and a practically non-existent calorie impact.
Let's start at the beginning.
Imitation vs Pure Vanilla Extract
In its most simple form, vanilla extract is a solution created by submerging vanilla bean pods in alcohol, which causes the pods to release vanillin, the major flavor compound found in vanilla.
The result is that dark brown liquid you've likely come to know as vanilla extract.
But, of course, leave it to the commercial food industry to go and ruin a good thing. Once they got their hands it, now most of the vanilla extract being sold at grocery stores is actually made from synthetic vanillin, a byproduct of paper waste products known as lignin (source). Gross!
All of this to say, it's as important as ever to make sure you read your labels and that you buy pure vanilla extract.
Vanilla extract is NOT the same thing as vanilla essence, vanilla concentrate, vanilla flavoring, vanilla aroma or vanilla syrup.
These are all artificial forms of vanilla–you can often spot them because they're clear in color and likely made from propylene glycol or glycerin and artificial vanillin.
Likewise, vanilla oil is different from vanilla extract–the oil is made by percolating vanilla bean pods in a carrier oil, rather than alcohol.
What you want to look for is pure vanilla extract, a term regulated by the FDA that requires vanilla extract must contain 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of liquid and be 35% alcohol.
So where can you find pure vanilla extract?
Where to Buy Vanilla Extract
That's why I always buy Nielsen-Massey's vanilla extracts, which are pure and made with as few ingredients as possible to create the highest-quality product.
Nielsen-Massey uses a proprietary cold extraction process (which takes three to five weeks) instead of heat extraction (which only takes three to five days, and damages and destroys many of the most delicate flavor notes) to preserve all of the 300+ distinctive flavor compounds present in vanilla beans, giving their extracts a rich, complex flavor profile.
Plus, all Nielsen-Massey products are all-natural, certified gluten-free, certified Kosher, allergen-free and GMO-Free, and there is an expanding line of certified organic products. Their Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract is even certified by FLOCERT. Yes!!
You can buy Nielsen-Massey online (you can find them on Amazon), and they're sold in fine foods stores like Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table.
For this recipe, I used Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, but you could also use their vanilla bean pods and scrape out the seeds. Just note that one tablespoon of vanilla extract is equivalent to one vanilla bean.
Likewise, there's a variety of different vanilla extracts you could choose from:
Different types of vanilla:
- Madagascar Bourbon vanilla has a sweet, creamy flavor and makes for an excellent “all-purpose” vanilla.
- Mexican vanilla is a bit deeper, and spicier–it pairs great with chocolate, spicy foods and tomato-based dishes.
- Tahitian vanilla has a delicate, fruity, anise-like flavor with floral notes–it doesn't hold up as well to heat, so it's better for cold dishes, like ice cream, pastry cream, fruit sauces and smoothies.
If you're concerned about the alcohol content, my best advice is simple: don't be. While there is alcohol in pure vanilla extracts, the majority of it is cooked off during preparation, and most recipes only call for a teaspoon or two.
Health Benefits of Vanilla Extract
So why all this fuss about vanilla extract?
High in antioxidants (meaning it will help your body fight free radicals from chemicals, the sun and environmental toxins), pure vanilla extract is incredibly anti-inflammatory and even has anti-bacterial properties.
In fact, did you know that pure vanilla extract is a natural remedy for cold sores and toothache pain? It's even been shown to help with depression and anxiety and help boost mood. (source)
No surprise when you consider how delicious vanilla tastes–who isn't happier when eating a little something rich and decadent like vanilla ice cream?
Of course, most vanilla desserts are laden with excess sugar, questionable dairy and refined carbs.
But to me, the beauty of cooking with vanilla extract is that you get to add tons of flavor to a dish without adding calories or fat or other potentially inflammatory ingredients. And, in fact, you're adding anti-inflammatory properties to your meal. Double score!
And that's before you even consider what else is going into this dish–pure, nourishing goodness. Take a look:
How to Make Vanilla Roasted Vegetable Yogurt Parfaits
- nutrient-dense butternut squash and beets (you could sub in sweet potatoes, if you prefer, though I'd stick to the sweeter root vegetables, rather than something bitter like parsnips) roasted with vanilla and cinnamon-spiked ghee
- probiotic-rich yogurt (I recommend buying organic, grass-fed, full-fat plain yogurt and swirling in a bit of vanilla extract to add real flavor)
- protein-packed nut butter bursting with omega-3s (your favorite almond butter or peanut butter will work here, though I've had lots of fun adding Wild Friends' Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter for an extra-special treat)
- and to top it all off, granola, which adds a perfect crunch to this yogurt parfait. I'm addicted to Purely Elizabeth's sea salt granolas, which add the perfect savory hit to these yogurt parfaits.
I know it might sound weird at first to combine root vegetables with yogurt, but I promise you the combo works like gangbusters. Contrast is a powerful flavor profile and after you try this, I promise you'll be wondering why you didn't think of it sooner!
Plus, this breakfast is insanely good for you–it's chockfull of protein and fiber and bursting with folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin A!
Also, no need to get fancy–if you'd rather skip the whole parfait part and just pile everything into one big bowl (which let's be honest, is how I make this dish most mornings), go for it!
But if you want to impress your guests and serve this at your next brunch, the parfait is oh-so-pretty, right?!
However you serve it, be sure to snap a photo and share it with me on social media. I'm @rootandrevel and would LOVE to see it!
Vanilla Roasted Root Vegetable + Yogurt Parfaits
- 1 butternut squash, diced (to save time, I like to buy pre-cut butternut squash; you'll need about 2 cups)
- 3 large red beets, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons organic, grass-fed ghee, melted (I recommend 4th & Heart)
- 2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract (split)
- 1 tablespoon organic ground cinnamon (I recommend Simply Organic)
- 2 cups organic, grass-fed, full-fat plain yogurt
- 4 tablespoons nut butter (I recommend Wild Friends Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter)
- 1 cup granola (I recommend Purely Elizabeth)
- Preheat oven to 425F. On a large baking sheet, spread diced squash and beets into an even layer. Combine 1 tsp vanilla extract with melted ghee, stirring to mix. Evenly drizzle vanilla ghee over veggies. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Toss everything together to combine and bake for 30 minutes, tossing halfway.
- Meanwhile, combine remaining teaspoon of vanilla extract with yogurt and stir to combine.
- Among four bowls or glasses, evenly divide vanilla yogurt. Top with roasted veggies, nut butter and granola. Serve and enjoy!
*Note: Nutrition panel does not include granola.
To learn more about Nielsen-Massey's Products, check out their website.
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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