Published on December 20, 2017

Make your holiday brunch healthy and hearty

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 Bake
12-ounces frozen hashbrowns, (Mr. Dells has no sodium)
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 fresh red pepper, chopped
¼ cup chopped onion
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 pound ground turkey breast
½ tsp garlic powder)
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp dried rosemary
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
5 ounces Fresh Baby Spinach
8 slices Reduced Fat Swiss Cheese (Sargento)
6 large eggs
2 Tbsp skim or 1 percent milk
1 large fresh tomato, sliced
¼ cup low-fat feta cheese (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix hashbrowns with olive oil. Pat into bottom of 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Potatoes will begin to brown. Remove from oven.
  2. Place 1 Tbsp olive oil in large frying pan on medium heat. Add chopped red pepper, chopped onion and mushrooms and sauté.
  3. While vegetables are cooking, mix ground turkey with garlic powder, black pepper, sage, thyme, nutmeg, rosemary, crushed red pepper and cayenne pepper. Add this turkey mixture to the frying pan with the vegetables and cook until turkey is no longer pink.
  4. Place cooked turkey and vegetables over hashbrowns.
  5. Layer fresh spinach over the turkey and vegetables.
  6. Place slices of reduced fat Swiss cheese over spinach. If you're preparing this for the next morning, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  7. Mix eggs and skim milk together. Pour over the spinach and cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Add sliced tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Return to oven and bake for 10 additional minutes.
  10. Cut into eight pieces.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size

1/8

Servings

8

Calories

265

Total Fat

12.5gm

   Saturated Fat

4gm

   Trans Fat

0

Cholesterol

180mg

Sodium

190mg

Potassium

520mg

Carbohydrates

12gm

Sugar

3.5gm

   Fiber

2.5gm

Protein

28gm

Calcium

310mg

Berry Almond Bread
This recipe can be made into a full loaf of bread or 12 muffins
2½ cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1 cup skim or 1 percent milk
1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil or canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp almond extract
2 cups frozen or fresh berries
(Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or diced strawberries)
¼ cup sliced almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease loaf pan with a very thin coating of oil or use muffin liners in muffin cups.
  2. Combine the white whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda in a large bowl. 
  3. Whisk together eggs, milk, vinegar, oil, vanilla, brown sugar and almond extract in a medium bowl.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in egg mixture and stir with a spoon just until combined. 
  5. Add in berries and almonds and stir gently just until combined.  Don't over-mix. 
  6. Transfer batter to prepared pan. 
  7. Bake until golden brown and wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean -- 25 minutes for muffins and 60-70 minutes for a large loaf.
  8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and turn onto a wire rack.  Cool for 30-40 minutes before slicing bread.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size

1/12

Servings

12

Calories

215

Total Fat

7gm

   Saturated Fat

1gm

   Trans Fat

0

Cholesterol

30mg

Sodium

100mg

Potassium

110mg

Carbohydrates

30gm

   Fiber

4gm

Protein

6gm

Festive Winter Salad
4 oranges, peeled and separated into segments
½ cup pomegranate seeds
4 peeled and sliced kiwi fruit
3 cups fresh or canned pineapple chunks
1 tsp grated lime rind
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
Dash of ground red pepper
¼ cup flaked coconut

  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. This will look very festive if arranged in a shallow serving bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the lime rind, juices and red pepper. Whip together. Pour over fruit and gently stir.
  3. Just before serving, sprinkle coconut on top.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size

¾ cup

Servings

8

Calories

105

Total Fat

2gm

   Saturated Fat

1gm

   Trans Fat

0

Cholesterol

0

Sodium

2mg

Potassium

250mg

Carbohydrates

22gm

   Fiber

4gm

Protein

0gm