8 Ways to Build the Perfect At-Home Brunch
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8 Ways to Build the Perfect At-Home Brunch

These mid-morning meals taste like your restaurant favorites, without the crowds and cost.

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By Joy Manning

On a brisk fall morning, there’s nothing more fun than meeting friends for brunch, devouring a supersized plate of sugary stuffed French toast and filling your glass with bottomless mimosas. Fast forward to midafternoon: You’re bloated, sluggish and in need of a nap, thanks to a meal that was basically all fat and carbs.

There’s another way to enjoy brunch—cook a healthy meal for your friends instead. Try some of these easy dietitian-approved recipes for a weekend meal that tastes delicious and makes you feel good, too. These meals are loaded with enough fiber and protein to help power you through even your busiest post-brunch afternoon.

Piled-high veggie hash

2 / 9 Piled-high veggie hash

Most restaurant menus offer a pile of crisp bacon served with poached eggs. At home, you can enjoy that smoky bacon flavor with only a fraction of the saturated fat.

“Fry just two pieces of bacon in a skillet, and set them aside,” says Whitney Linsenmeyer, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and instructor at Saint Louis University in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Don't rinse the pan just yet. Add a bounty of chopped fall veggies, like sweet potato, kale and Brussels sprouts, to the bacon fat to make a veggie hash that serves a crowd. Top each portion of veggies with a poached egg and a few crumbled bits of bacon. This dish offers more than 6 grams of protein in the egg alone—and a ton of flavor from only a little bit of bacon.

DIY oatmeal bar

3 / 9 DIY oatmeal bar

“A big batch of fiber-rich oatmeal is easy to make in advance and people love to mix and match their own toppings,” says Isabel Maples, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Washington, D.C.

She suggests laying out toppings like chopped fruit, nuts, seeds and both dairy and nondairy milks, like almond, coconut or soy. A few mini dark chocolate chips are also a Maples-approved topping. “Little splurges like that feel indulgent but aren’t compared to what you would get at a restaurant,” she says.

Oatmeal also delivers a healthy dose of digestion-boosting fiber and protein, too. Each serving has 4 grams and 6.6 grams, respectively, per cooked cup.

Build-it-yourself brunch salads

4 / 9 Build-it-yourself brunch salads

If you're like most Americans, you’re probably trying to fit more servings of vegetables into your day. Just 10 percent of adults munch the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Salad is an overlooked brunch option, according to Linsenmeyer. “Take inspiration from the classic French Niçoise salad.” It’s an unexpected spread that feels luxurious.

Set out platters of chopped greens, like Bibb lettuce, kale or spinach, cured salmon, fresh herbs, like thyme, basil and oregano and hardboiled eggs. Traditional Niçoise has steamed green beans and potatoes, along with raw tomatoes, but you can substitute with any veggies you want. Complete the salad with a store-bought or home-made vinaigrette. Take a look at the fat, calories and sugar content of any pre-made dressings though; even oil-based vinaigrettes can turn your salad into a calorie bomb.

Baked veggie frittata

5 / 9 Baked veggie frittata

A frittata is a large, flat omelet you can make with plenty of your favorite fall vegetables, like bell peppers, spinach or mushrooms. It comes together quickly and easily too, “It’s like a quiche without the crust," says Maples. Skipping that crust cuts about 115 calories per slice, or one-eighth of the crust made in a 9-inch dish.

Coat the bottom and edges of a skillet that is oven-safe with olive oil—cast iron skillets are a great choice. Saute your veggies until tender, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then add beaten eggs, about eight or enough to fill the pan halfway. You can add a bit more flavor by sprinkling in a serving of low-fat cheese, like cheddar or feta, or adding a few drops of hot sauce. Cook on the stovetop over medium heat, and when the edges start to set, transfer your skillet to an oven preheated to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Bake until puffed and cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. “Make it ahead, and serve it at room temperature," Maples says.

Whole grain banana bread

6 / 9 Whole grain banana bread

A sweet treat that pairs well with coffee, banana bread is a fall classic. No matter what your favorite recipe is, you can lighten up your bread by replacing half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour and reducing the amount of sugar by 25 percent.

No one will notice the extra fiber, but they will like the toasty, nutty flavor of the whole wheat. And naturally sweet bananas really shine through when you reduce the sugar. You can actually lighten up the majority of breakfast baked goods by switching flours and cutting sugar. Pancakes, waffles and muffins are the best candidates for a morning makeover. Add back some of the sweetness and take in extra nutrients by nibbling with a serving of fruit, too.

Savory socca

7 / 9 Savory socca

Go savory and gluten-free with your pancakes, by trying socca. Similar to a flatbread, socca is a popular French street food made by combining one cup of chickpea flour (sometimes called garbanzo bean flour) with one cup of water, and a few pinches of salt. Preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet in an oven set to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil, and bake until set and crisp at the edges, about 15 minutes.

Top with fresh herbs, slice into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature, with a side of eggs or a simple green salad. Thanks to the chickpeas, this easy and impressive brunch dish is packed with protein, fiber and folate. Don’t be scared off by a new ingredient, either. Chickpea flour can be found in most grocery stores and can be used to thicken sauces, bind burgers or even subbed into baked goods.

Fruit and yogurt parfaits

8 / 9 Fruit and yogurt parfaits

For a brunch menu item that feels like dessert, try fruit and yogurt parfaits. Start with plain low-fat or nonfat Greek-style yogurt with a thick, rich texture and plenty of protein. Avoid vanilla and other flavors, which often pack a ton of sugar.

Scoop a dollop of yogurt into the bottom of tall, clear glasses and top with a layer of fresh fruit, like chopped pineapple, mango and strawberries. Follow this with a sprinkle of muesli or granola, just for crunch. Repeat until you fill the glass, creating pretty stripes of white yogurt and vibrant fruit.

A skinny bubbly substitute

9 / 9 A skinny bubbly substitute

Part of the appeal of going out to brunch are the “bottomless” mimosas and Bloody Marys that sometimes come with it. “You might feel like you have to drink more to get your money’s worth,” says Maples.

When serving brunch for your friends at home, offer refreshing, festive and nonalcoholic options like sparkling water mixed with pink lemonade. Linsenmeyer also suggests pureeing watermelon with a touch of salt, pouring the mixture into an ice cube tray and cooling your drinks with these cubes instead of traditional ice. You can also garnish your "cocktails" with seasonal fruit, like apples, pears or raspberries.

Healthy Foods & Cooking

Healthy Foods & Cooking

Do you want to cook healthier? With some simple tweaks, you can lighten up regular recipes for brownies, casseroles, and other tasty treats. Plan healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner by learning about healthy food substit...

utions. For instance, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on cakes instead of using frosting. Reduce fat and calories in baked goods by cutting the fat ingredient such as butter or margarine by one-half and substituting a moist ingredient like applesauce, fat-free sour cream or orange juice. Read on to learn more tips about healthy foods and in no time you will be cooking healthy recipes for you and your family.
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