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Frittatas and scrambled eggs are standard brunch foods, but they can be extremely unhealthy. After all, scrambled eggs are typically cooked by frying whole eggs in butter, adding plenty of salt and throwing some cheese or lunch meat in for good measure. Frittatas are made similarly, with a few extra (fried) vegetables added to the mix and with a bit of oven-cooked time added at the end.
So how can you make these into healthy brunch recipes? Use egg whites instead of whole eggs, or add in only a couple of yolks if you absolutely must. If you can, use omega-3 eggs for additional health benefits. Cut down on the fat that the eggs are fried in, replacing trans-fat heavy butter with light olive oil. And most importantly, limit the add-ins to healthy options. Instead of frying added vegetables in butter, grill them or roast them in the oven. Replace the salt with interesting spices like curry and cinnamon, or stick to a classic garlic and onion powder combination.
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Muffins are assumed to be healthy unless proven otherwise, but that assumptions can be extremely harmful to your health. Muffins baked with "bad" fats, a cup or more of white sugar and purely white flour have few health benefits, even if they are labeled "blueberry muffins" or "banana muffins." Instead, find a recipe that is heavy on whole grain oatmeal or whole wheat flour for a base recipe. Add in a tablespoon of wheat germ for added nutrition; it shouldn't change the consistency too much. Then tackle the sugar. Slash the amount until it is under a cup for a dozen large muffins, and replace the refined sugar with a healthier, unrefined alternative such as cane juice or agave nectar. Don't forget to add in some berries or other fruits for an added touch of sweetness and flavor. You can use this same method to add nutrition to most baked goods, from cookies (try oatmeal raisin) to cakes (try a nutty fruitcake made with whole wheat flour).
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Many Mexican brunch foods include wraps, salsa and cheese, such as enchiladas and breakfast burritos. Choose whole grain wraps rather than those made from refined grains; you can even make your own whole wheat wraps instead of using store-bought ones. You can also make your own salsa using fresh tomatoes and spices, which allows you to cut down on the amount of sugar and salt that you use in its preparation. Make sure to use low-fat cheese and to include a variety of vegetables in your Mexican brunch foods, and you'll have gone a long way towards making them more nutritious as well.
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Drinks are an often overlooked aspect of brunches that can really add on calories. When it comes to healthy drinks, your blender is your friend. Whip up a smoothie with plenty of soft, slightly overripe fruit, some skim milk, some non-fat yogurt and a tablespoon of wheat germ or protein powder. You can also add in some ice cubes for a cooler and crunchier consistency. For people who would prefer an alcoholic component in their beverages, try a homemade Bloody Mary -- but hold the store-bought tomato juice! This is one of the main ingredients in most Bloody Mary beverages, but it is filled with unnecessary sugar and salt. Instead, make your own tomato juice or buy the healthier version from the health food store before using it. You can also try a simple mimosa made from equal amounts of champagne and orange juice; although this is not extremely healthy, it does get most of its sweetness from fruit sugar rather than its refined counterpart. For an even healthier option, make some iced tea sweetened with honey and flavored with fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
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There’s no reason that brunch foods need to be composed of only protein- and carb-heavy fare. You can introduce some unique foods to your brunch that can add flavor and nutrition. For example, transform some healthy whole wheat tortillas into a fun food by coating them with hummus and filling them with shredded romaine lettuce, chunks of tomatoes and grated carrot. Roll them up tightly, cut them in half and pierce them with a toothpick.
You can also prepare some vegetable crudités with dips such as low-fat yogurt, hummus or guacamole. Set out a fruit platter with plenty of juicy watermelon chunks and skewered strawberries. For a less common dish, layer yogurt, granola and berries in a glass bowl to make an interesting parfait, and allow guests to serve themselves in transparent dessert cups.
With just a little bit of originality, you can create healthy brunch recipes that taste just as good as those decadent brunch foods that we all enjoy.
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Mayo Clinic. "Wheat germ: Nutrition in a crunch." http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/health_tip/HT00375
Fit Day. "Three Nutritional Benefits of Agave Nectar." http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/3-nutritional-benefits-of-agave-nectar.html
Creating Healthier Recipes for Brunch Foods
We are all trying to eat a healthier diet, but who has the time? This series of articles contains healthy and fast recipes that you can use as part of a healthy lifestyle.