We all agree – brunch is one of the best weekend activities. But, how do you enjoy without overindulging? Our dietitian friends and nutrition experts, Amanda Baker Lemein, MS, RD and Julie Pappas, RD, share an easy-to-follow equation for brunching. Teaser: libations allowed!
First things first, let’s talk brunch. Whether venturing out to explore the city’s newest brunch must-have or sticking by your tried and true favorite, we all enjoy the weekend ritual of a leisurely, morning meal. As your average millennials, we couldn’t agree more, but as nutrition pros, we know brunching may be highly anticipated, yet tricky-to-manage for many. From bottomless mimosas and bloody mary bars to bagel towers and pastry boards, brunch can go from a meal to a feast fast. However, with a few simple tips, you’ll be able to navigate any brunch menu without forgoing healthy habits. Enter: our step-by-step guide for brunching with ease.
Step 1: Snack before you arrive
This may seem counterintuitive, but arriving at any meal starving is not a good strategy because it leads to overeating. Eat before you arrive and try our go-to combo for satisfied snacking, protein and fiber (more on these later). Look for lean sources of protein, like turkey, nuts, yogurt, an egg or lox, and pair it with a high fiber food like a piece of fruit, non-starchy veggies or everyone’s favorite high-fiber cracker, GGs. Think of this mini-meal as an appetizer for your main event and head to brunch ready but not ravenous.
Step 2: Split your indulgence
Brunch is not the standard weekday breakfast so let yourself enjoy, but be sure to share the wealth. Order an indulgent option for the table (like a challah French toast or a pastry), take a few bites and move on to your more balanced entree!
Step 3: Spot the protein and fiber
That’s right, the aforementioned duo is back. Protein and fiber are key to feeling satisfied not only at snack time but for meals, too. Avoid making brunch a dessert by choosing an entree with lean protein and filling fiber. These two nutrients are key for a balanced meal, as protein takes longest for our bodies to digest, while fiber keeps us feeling fuller for longer. Combined, these two are sure to satisfy without leading to overeating, as they are both found in naturally healthy foods.
Look for these winning pairs:
- A salad (fiber) topped with chicken, salmon or shrimp (protein)
- An omelette (protein) with sauteed onions, mushrooms and spinach (fiber) and berries (fiber) on the side
- Lox (protein) with extra tomato and cucumber slices (fiber) and stick with just half of a scooped out bagel
Step 4: Enjoy an adult beverage
In our book, alcohol is part of brunching 101. Just try a few of our tweaks to cut added sugars and empty cals.
- Mimosa: ask for juice on the side so you can control a light “splash”
- Brunch cocktail: hold any agave, simple syrup or sweetener but ask for muddled fresh mint, cucumbers or jalapenos for added flavor without the sugar
- Bloodys: sweeteners are rare, so you’re in luck, just avoid one-too-many as they can often be stronger than most morning drinks
- Keep it simple with a glass of rosé, Sancerre or champagne
Illustration by: Paige Griffiths