The secrets to building a better brunch

It’s really just a meal that falls between a typical breakfast hour and a typical lunch hour, but brunch has become a big weekend buzzword. Touted for both its social and edible benefits, the trend is worth a try. It’s the perfect excuse to gather friends and family and experiment with new dishes, both sweet and savory. While it’s easy to over indulge while casually dining, you don’t have to spend an entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting. 

“An easy way to make brunch healthier is to substitute lighter ingredients like applesauce for heavier elements like oil to significantly cut back on calories and fat,” Stephanie Amstutz, RDN, CD, said. “Try to choose the low fat option whenever you can, such as feta instead of cheddar cheese. Feta cheese has a tangy flavor, so a little goes a long way. Look for recipes rich in fiber with adequate protein and carbohydrates to give you energy and keep you full.”

Don’t forget to soak up the emotional benefits of a shared meal. “Taking time to be social and gathering with friends and family is a large factor of overall wellness. Studies show that being connected to loved ones helps motivate, encourage and provide support on an emotional level as well as spiritually and physically. When we feel encouraged by others, our mental health tends to be more positive and help with overall stress management.” That’s something anyone can dig into.

Here are some easy and healthy brunch recipes to get you started.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

1 cup wheat bran
1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup olive oil
1 large egg
1 cup small red grapes
10 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon water
¼ cup seedless jam

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a line 10 holes in a muffin tin with paper cups. In a medium bowl, combine the wheat bran, flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, buttermilk, oil and egg. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and mix to combine. Fold in the grapes. Divide half the batter among the lined muffin cups. Top each with 1 teaspoon peanut butter, then the remaining batter. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 25 to 27 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the jam with 1 tablespoon water. Just before serving, drizzle the jam mixture on the muffins.

Based off a recipe featured on delish.com

Baked Eggs with Tomato and Spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 can whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons hot sauce
4 large eggs
¼ c. crumbled feta

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and sauté until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes, cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, and, if desired, hot sauce. Add onion-spinach mixture and stir to combine. Divide among 4 oiled 10-ounce ramekins.
  3. Crack an egg into the center of each ramekin, then sprinkle on feta. Bake until whites are set but yolks remain soft, 12 – 15 minutes.

Based off a recipe featured on delish.com

Healthy French Toast

2 large egg whites
1 large egg
¾ cup low-fat (1%) milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Salt, to taste
2 teaspoons margarine or butter
8 slices firm whole wheat bread
Maple syrup (optional)
Fresh blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In pie plate, with whisk, beat egg whites, egg, milk, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until blended. In 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt 1 teaspoon margarine.
  2. Dip bread slices, 1 at a time, in egg mixture, pressing bread lightly to coat both sides well. Place 3 or 4 slices in skillet, and cook 6 – 8 minutes or until lightly browned on both sides.
  3. Transfer French toast to cookie sheet; keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining margarine, bread slices, and egg mixture.
  4. Serve French toast with maple syrup and berries if you like. 

Based off a recipe featured on delish.com

Bacon and Eggs over Asparagus

8 slices bacon
1 pound asparagus spears
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
8 large eggs
3 tablespoons packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespooon fresh dill

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In an 18-inch-by-12-inch jelly roll pan, arrange bacon slices in single layer, spacing 1/4 inch apart. Roast 8 – 9 minutes or until browned and crisp. Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate; set aside. Drain and discard excess bacon fat in pan, leaving thin film of fat.
  2. Add asparagus to pan in single layer. Roll in fat until evenly coated. Arrange in tight single layer, with bottoms of spears touching one long side of pan. Sprinkle thyme and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper on asparagus. Roast 8 to 10 minutes or until asparagus spears are tender and browned.
  3. Carefully crack eggs, without breaking yolks, directly onto asparagus spears, staggering if necessary and spacing 1/4- inch apart. Carefully return pan to oven. Roast 5 – 6 minutes or until whites are just set and yolks are still runny. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper on eggs. Return bacon to pan; sprinkle eggs and asparagus with parsley and dill. To serve, use wide spatula to transfer to serving plates.

*Photos from and recipes based off of those featured on delish.com

References

Woodyard, A., & Grable, J. (2014). Doing Good and Feeling Well: Exploring the Relationship Between Charitable Activity and Perceived Personal Wellness. Voluntas: International Journal Of Voluntary & Nonprofit Organizations25(4), 905-928. doi:10.1007/s11266-013-9382-5

U. Treven, S. Treven and S. S. Zizek. (2011).Effective Approaches to Managing Stress of Employees.IHART 14, 38-45.

 

 

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