Summer cookouts and 4th of July parties are upon us, and I'm always looking for that perfect and simple appetizer or side that I can serve to guests. Quite honestly, at this time of year, it's hard to beat anything that gets presented as red, white, and blue.

I suspect it's no coincidence that one of the things I enjoy most about this time of year is the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, specifically blueberries and strawberries. It's really just perfect timing that these blue and red berries come into peak season just in time for 4th of July celebrations. And as many enjoy doing, I like to sieze convenient opportunities to color coordinate my snacks with the holiday we're going to be celebrating. What can I say, I'm a bit obsessive this way.

Last year I tried my hand at creating festive 4th of July cupcakes. They sure were a crowd pleaser, and the fireworks toppers go down in my book as an all time favorite. (Details on how I made them can be found here.)

In addition, I'm sure we've all seen the cool whip and berry topped jell-o mold of years past, decorated to look like an American flag.


Photo Credit: Kraft Foods

In recent years I've also seen layer cakes carefully sculpted so that cross sections look quite patriotic. So cool, but very labor intensive.

Photo Credit: The Sugar Turn Table

All of these options look great, but can take a lot of time to make. This year I wanted to try something a little different, and put together a lightening fast, easy, and healthy treat that can be served as breakfast, a snack, or a refreshing side dish/appetizer. What I'm making you can honestly call the "perfect" treat because it is a fruit and yogurt parfait.

This simple dish requires just four ingredients and takes only a minute or two to put together.

Ingredients

  • vanilla yogurt
  • granola
  • blueberries
  • strawberries

Assembly is a snap, and can be done according to personal preference. For the parfait pictured above, I layered the ingredients into the bowl with a lot of blueberries and granola hidden beneath the surface. I then finished it off with a fan of strawberries and a blueberry center.

While the bowl presentation gives you the nice red white and blue, it hides the majority of what is good beneath the surface. If you want to do this as a small item you bring to a party, or as something with a little more presentation, it's best to serve in a glass container or clear cup.

Really, any size glass container will work. I've done our example in a ice cream bowl, but a small plastic shot glass might be perfect for that summer 4th of July cookout with tons of food options.

Start by layering in a base of yogurt. This is the first layer, so you'll want to cover approximately the bottom 1/4 of the container.

Fill in the center of the yogurt with a little bit of your granola. This will get covered, but it gives a little bit of to the center of the yogurt.

Next, layer your blueberries around the perimeter of the container. You want them to be out near the edge so you'll be able to see them from the outside once fully assembled.

Then fill in the middle with more blueberries, just because they're so good.

Next, add some additional yogurt to bring the yogurt level near the top of the glass, but be sure to leave some room for the strawberries. You'll want to add the yogurt in the middle and let it move to the outside on its own. If you add right to the perimeter, the yogurt will take over the edge and you'll lose the layered look.

The final layer, much like the first example, will be your red strawberry layer. In a smaller glass, where you can't lay them all out in a fan, just slice your strawberries into small pieces and lay them in around the top. In this case, I was able to use the fan 

Finish the whole thing off with a blueberry in the center...

...and a little more granola if you like.

If you use a taller glass you will really see your festively layered and extremely healthy 4th of July side/dessert.

If you want this tasty snack to be a bit sweeter, add some honey to the middle layers. If you're looking for more of a dessert feel, you can substitute broken up oatmeal cookies or ginger snaps for the granola, and even swap out the yogurt for whipped cream or whipped topping. There are obviously so many combinations for this treat, and our suggestions are only scratching the surface. We hope you'll try it out and let us know what you think.

Do you have any fun and festive color themed food favorites? Maybe your own summer cookout standby? Hey, even a burger with a tiny flag stuck in the bun counts. Do tell.

Are you looking for other 4th of July decorating or entertaining ideas? If so, check out the holidays section of our projects page for cocktails, recipes, exterior decor, and more. 

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