Valentine’s Day is known for its sweet treats, cards and flowers. But, what if you want to celebrate in the morning?
I don’t know about you, but I think love and chocolate should not be confined to the end of the day.
This recipe is the perfect way to add some affection to your morning, alongside some chocolately goodness. But don’t worry, it’s still a very healthy way to start your day (especially if you power it up with some of these tasty superfood smoothie add-ins).
If you have kids (or in my case, a husband with a sweet tooth), they’ll go wild for this recipe.
By including a few healthy smoothie elements, I was able to fit fresh spinach in without it affecting the taste.
I do recommend that you use a good blender as the frozen banana can be very hard to process – a high speed model will really come in handy.
However, if you don’t have a high-powered blender, a food processor will work also.
Whatever appliance you use, be sure not to add too much liquid, or your parfait will be very watery – and that’s not going to be much fun. Keep the layers nice and thick, and you’ll be in good shape.
This recipe calls mostly for fruits and other pantry staples that you likely have on hand, but there are a few ingredients you might not.
Let me explain the less common ones:
Derived from the same source as the powder mentioned above, cacao nibs are larger pieces of the actual cacao bean.
Think of it as the first stage in the grinding process, when the cacao beans are broken into pieces.
This is made from ground up cacao beans; it’s the raw, unpasteurized version of cocoa powder. Cacao powder is very bitter, but offers all of the health benefits of dark chocolate – such as the antioxidants.
You might already be familiar with these – remember the popular Chia Pets from the ’80s and ’90s?
These are the same seeds, which have been found to be highly nutritious and come in a black and white variety.
Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber.
They’re also excellent for thickening recipes, as they are gelatinous, growing ten times their weight in water.
When it comes to taste, they’re very neutral, absorbing whatever flavors you pair them with.
Mix it Up
This recipe is versatile. If you’re missing an ingredient, try swapping it out with something you do have.
Just be sure to keep a few frozen bananas on hand, as those are a key player in this recipe.
Here’s my tip for freezing bananas: simply peel them, cut them in half, and freeze them in a zip-top baggy. I always wait until just before the point that they go bad and make good use of them in frozen concoctions rather than letting them go to waste.
There are a few separate processes involved to make each luscious layer of this frozen delight, but you’re going to want to get started by prepping the chia pudding layer.
Give it at least 30 minutes to thicken up before you plan to eat.
This parfait is enough to serve one hungry love bug, or two sweet lovebirds could share.
Looking for something a little different (and more dessert-like)? Try this orange, cinnamon, and cardamom parfait recipe.
Cooking By The Numbers…
Step 1 – Make the Pudding
Make the chia pudding by mixing together chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Vigorously stir the mixture, then allow it to sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Step 2 – Prepare the Bananas
Peel your banana and slice it in half the long way before cutting out as many hearts as you can with your cookie cutter. Or, you can just cut the banana into slices.
You could also try your hand at cutting hearts our freehand with a paring knife. I tried this, but it was a little harder than I thought it would be.
Step 3 – Blend the Ingredients
Next place the frozen banana, cacao, spinach, protein powder and almond milk in the blender and blend well.
The finished mixture should be very thick and will take some time to become fully blended and creamy.
As you blend, you’ll need to stop and scrape down the sides as you go along.
Step 4 – Add an Artsy Touch
Place the banana hearts at the bottom of the jar. This is a little tricky, but try to make them stand up, and press them up against the glass along the sides.
If you have a wide mouth mason jar, it might be easier to fit your hand inside. This isn’t crucial – if you can’t get them to stick to the sides, simply layer them throughout instead.
Step 5 – Give It That Chocolate Punch
Next, scoop the chocolate layer into the bottom of the jar until it’s about 1/3 of the way full.
Give the chia pudding a quick stir and break up any clumps with a spoon, then spoon or pour the mixture on top of the chocolate.
Step 6 – Strawberries Make Everything Better
Prepare the strawberry layer by blending up the banana, strawberries and almond milk. This layer will be very thick as well.
Again, be sure to scrape down the sides as you go.
Pour this mixture over the chia pudding to nearly fill the jar.
If you have a little extra left over, you can eat that on its own, or pour it into a container and freeze for later.
Step 7 – A Drizzle Made in Heaven
Now make the chocolate drizzle by mixing together the cacao, coconut oil and the natural maple syrup. The oil needs to be fully melted, but not hot.
Step 8 – The Finishing Touch
Finish by topping with cereal, dried fruit, cacao nibs, and fresh fruit. Top with a the chocolate sauce.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. Feel free to experiment and make it your own. It’s a great way to enjoy the holiday and drink something healthy, rather than going down the dairy-packed route of a milkshake.
I’ve also enjoyed this treat with chocolate drizzled in between each layer, and that is very tasty as well.
For even more Valentine’s Day recipes, we think you’ll love these:
What will you make this year for your honey on Valentine’s Day? Tell us about your personalized flavor combinations in the comments!
Unless otherwise noted, photos by Sarah Hagstrom, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Sarah Hagstrom
Sarah is a health food advocate and loves to spend her time whipping up something healthy and delicious in the kitchen and then sharing either on Foodal or on her own blog "The Seasonal Diet" (www.theseasonaldiet.com). She lives in Sunny San Diego with her husband, where they enjoy running on the beach and weekend adventures.