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Published on December 20, 2017
By Bonnie Brost, licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health.
The season of friends and family gathering together is here. It's a special time to share company, exchange gifts and eat special foods.
An early day gathering often fits into our schedules on holidays and weekends. Planning a brunch menu that is tasty, easy and healthy can be a challenge. Brunch menus often include sausage and egg bakes, sweet breads, rolls and dessert.
For a main dish, consider this egg and hashbrown bake. The recipe was adapted to fulfill the desire for a hearty egg dish that's more heart healthy than those using processed, high-sodium sausage and full-fat cheeses. Hashbrowns provide the crust rather than Bisquick and the "sausage" is made from ground turkey breast with spices that give the dish a lot of flavor. There are even some vegetables. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but comes together quickly. This recipe can be prepared the day before to easily fit into a busy holiday morning.
Other main course ideas could be crockpot oatmeal with a variety of fruits and spices. This adds a wonderful aroma to your house as guests arrive. Another idea is the mini-mushroom and sausage quiche, found on the eatingwell.com website. I'd substitute the homemade sausage with the ground turkey and spices found in the egg bake recipe.
Sweet bread recipes often come with a lot of sugar and no whole grains. This Berry Almond Bread recipe featured was adapted from the Eating Well website. It's a low-sugar treat that includes great berries, good fats and whole grains to help decrease inflammation. To lower the sodium content, I eliminated the salt and made my own "buttermilk." I increased the amount of whole grain by using all "white whole wheat flour" instead of a combination of whole wheat flour (usually made from red wheat) and all purpose flour. This bread provides 25 grams of whole grain per serving "“ more than half of the daily recommended 48 grams.
Other sweet bread ideas are banana bread or cranberry-orange bread. Try using white whole wheat flour and reducing the sugar by at least 25 percent in your favorite sweet bread recipe to improve the nutrition.
For a dessert idea, consider creative ways to put fruit together. A make-your-own fruit parfait is a fun way to encourage young guests to try different fruits. Have a variety of fresh, canned or frozen fruits (cherries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, pineapple) and encourage your guests to make up their own combination, and use some low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt. A little granola on top is a nice finish.
Another option for a sweet side or dessert is the Festive Winter Salad. This recipe was adapted from the My Recipes website. It's a great combination of fruit for the winter and holiday gatherings. Pomegranate and oranges are available during these cold months. The coconut on top gives it a festive winter look.
Egg and Hashbrown Bake12-ounces frozen hashbrowns, (Mr. Dells has no sodium)2 Tbsp olive oil, divided1 fresh red pepper, chopped¼ cup chopped onion8 ounces mushrooms, sliced1 pound ground turkey breast½ tsp garlic powder)½ tsp black pepper1 tsp dried sage1 tsp dried thyme¼ tsp nutmeg¼ tsp dried rosemary1/8 tsp crushed red pepperDash cayenne pepper5 ounces Fresh Baby Spinach8 slices Reduced Fat Swiss Cheese (Sargento)6 large eggs2 Tbsp skim or 1 percent milk1 large fresh tomato, sliced¼ cup low-fat feta cheese (optional)
Nutritional FactsServing Size
Berry Almond BreadThis recipe can be made into a full loaf of bread or 12 muffins2½ cups white whole wheat flour1 tsp cinnamon1½ tsp baking powder½ tsp baking soda2 large eggs1 cup skim or 1 percent milk1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice¼ cup olive oil or canola oil1 tsp vanilla extract½ cup brown sugar½ tsp almond extract2 cups frozen or fresh berries(Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or diced strawberries)¼ cup sliced almonds
Festive Winter Salad4 oranges, peeled and separated into segments½ cup pomegranate seeds4 peeled and sliced kiwi fruit3 cups fresh or canned pineapple chunks1 tsp grated lime rind1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice1 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juiceDash of ground red pepper¼ cup flaked coconut