Brunch is great for celebrating holidays, and special occasions, like graduations and wedding showers.
Calories and fat can add up in traditional brunch fare, however.
Here’s how to savor the flavor of your favorite brunch foods without giving good nutrition the slip -- with recipe ideas to get you started.
How to Plan a Healthier Brunch
Brunch combines breakfast and lunch, so it’s OK to eat a bit more at this mid-day meal. Whether or not you splurge, always make your calories count. Brunch is no excuse for wasting energy on lackluster foods that provide little in the way of good nutrition.
As you plan your brunch menu, keep these tips in mind:
• Use the most flavorful ingredients you can afford. When food is fresh and tastes great you tend to use less in preparation, and you feel more satisfied with smaller portions.
• Include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fortified eggs, and lower-fat dairy products in brunch dishes. Nutrient-rich foods pack more vitamins, minerals, and fiber for the calories.
• Cut back on calories with reduced-fat hard cheese, Canadian bacon (which has less fat and more protein than regular bacon), and low-fat cottage cheese as a stand-in for feta in omelets and salads.
• Improve nutrition by doubling up on chopped vegetables in cold pasta salads, and by serving fresh berries topped with Greek yogurt.
• For fun and good nutrition, offer healthy foods that you may not eat on a regular basis, such as smoked salmon, which is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats and high-quality protein.
Healthy Brunch Recipes
Mango Yogurt Parfait With Sliced Almonds
Greek yogurt offers twice the protein of regular; mangoes are packed with beta carotene, vitamin C, and fiber; and almonds offer vitamin E.
\Makes 6 servings.
- 2 large ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and cubed
- 3 cups low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
- 12 tablespoons slivered almonds
In a food processor or blender, puree one mango. Spoon equal amounts of the puree into 6 medium-sized parfait glasses. Top pureed mango in each glass with 1/4 cup yogurt. Spoon cubed mango on top of the yogurt, then layer with the remaining 1/4 cup yogurt and reserved mango. Just before serving, top each glass with 2 tablespoons slivered almonds.
Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche
Evaporated milk is the main source of calcium in this bone-building dish, which also boasts antioxidant- and fiber-rich broccoli. The absence of a crust cuts down on the fat content. Use fortified eggs for more omega-3 fats, and vitamins B 12, D, and E.
Makes 6 servings.
- 2 tablespoons trans-fat free tub margarine
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 12-ounce can 2% evaporated milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 10-ounce box chopped frozen broccoli, thawed, or 2 cups broccoli, cooked and chopped
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 10-inch pie plate with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.
In a medium skillet, heat the margarine over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, eggs, flour, and pepper. Set aside.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese into the pie pan. Top with the cooked onions and the broccoli.
Pour the milk and egg mixture into the pie pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Raisin Walnut Bread
Whole wheat flour and oatmeal lend whole grain goodness; unsweetened applesauce and raisins lend natural sweetness; and the walnuts contribute heart-healthy fat and beneficial antioxidants.
Makes 2 loaves.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups uncooked one-minute oatmeal
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1.5 cups raisins
- 1.5 cups chopped walnuts
- 2.5 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour two loaf pans.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, oatmeal, brown sugar, raisins, and walnuts. Stir until well combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, canola oil, eggs, and milk.
Add the applesauce mixture to the flour mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Fill the prepared pans with the batter, dividing evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let bread cool before slicing.
Delicious, Nutritious, and Easy Brunch Fare
Tight on time? You don’t need hours to prepare a nutritious and delicious brunch that your guests will love. This mix-and-match fare takes just minutes to make and allows you more time to enjoy the company.
• 100% orange juice with a splash of sparkling wine and pomegranate juice for the adults. Children can have a mixture of the juices, without the wine.
• Scrambled eggs in whole wheat pita pockets topped with salsa, grated cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, and black beans.
• Pancakes from a box, with a boost of calcium and protein. Combine 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, 1 large egg, and 1 cup pancake mix. Top cooked pancakes with sliced strawberries or other berries and dust with powdered sugar.
• Smoked salmon served on toasted whole grain bagel thins or sandwich thins spread with low-fat herbed cream cheese; serve with sliced tomato and cucumber.
• Chocolate-dipped dried apricots: Melt semi-sweet chocolate (dark chocolate, if you have a choice) in a double boiler or in the microwave. Dip half of each of the dried apricots in the chocolate. Place on wax paper and allow to set for 30-60 minutes.
• Cherry-Banana Cooler: Place 1 banana in a blender or food processor and process on high until smooth. Add 1/2 cup frozen or fresh sweet pitted cherries, 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and sugar to taste, if desired. Process until blended. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.
• For a quick pasta salad, cook 2 cups whole wheat pasta. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, toss pasta with a mixture of 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Add 12 ounces artichoke hearts, drained; 2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 4 ounces feta cheese, 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese, and 2 large, chopped tomatoes. Combine.