Getting together for brunch can be a fantastic time to catch up with friends and family while enjoying some delicious foods.
However, while brunch foods are certainly tasty, they can be high in calories and low in important nutrients. While not all meals need to be meticulously balanced, you may want to create a healthier brunch depending on your nutritional goals.
By tweaking traditional recipes and implementing some strategies when eating out, you can boost the nutrient value of your brunch to make it a bit healthier.
This article provides some healthier brunch ideas, whether you’re eating at home or in a restaurant — and even if you’re on a weight loss diet.
When getting together for brunch at home, the options are seemingly endless. From baked goods to casseroles to sandwiches, there’s no shortage of solid choices.
That said, many of these options lack essential nutrients, such as protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals.
Fortunately, there are some great ways to tweak your recipes and enhance their nutritional profile. Here are some of my top suggestions for brunching at home while still being nutritionally conscious.
Egg and vegetable frittata
Nothing says brunch more than a perfectly cooked egg frittata — and eggs provide a good source of protein, with a large egg packing about 6 grams (
Protein is an important nutrient for building and maintaining strong muscles and bones (
Create a tasty egg frittata by simply scrambling some eggs, adding some fresh veggies of your choice, pouring it into a pan over medium heat, and flipping it after a few minutes to ensure even cooking.
When making a larger frittata, it’s best to start it on the stovetop and then transfer it to the oven for a few minutes to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly.
Considering that brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, sandwiches make an excellent option.
Some ways to boost the nutritional profile of sandwiches include:
- swapping in whole grain bread for white for added fiber
- sticking to leaner proteins
- using light mayo and lower fat cheeses, such as part-skim mozzarella or Swiss
- incorporating plenty of veggies
Not everyone owns a panini press, but no worries — making them on the stovetop is quite simple.
- Heat a grill pan while you assemble the sandwich.
- Lightly grease the pan with oil or butter.
- Place the sandwich on the grill pan, firmly pressing down on it with a spatula, and flip it after a few minutes just until each side is toasted and marked with grill lines.
- Slice the sandwich in half and enjoy.
Whole grain pancakes and scrambled eggs
What brunch menu would be complete without the addition of some delicious pancakes?
Traditionally, pancakes tend to be low in protein and fiber, two important ingredients for supporting a healthy muscle mass and promoting digestive health.
To solve this, I suggest making your pancakes with at least half whole wheat flour or some other whole grain flour. That may boost their fiber content.
To add protein, serving some scrambled eggs on the side will help ensure a complete meal.
If you wish to add protein without eggs, try making your pancakes with yogurt or cottage cheese. You could also top them with chia or hemp seeds.
Finally, top the pancakes with berries to boost the vitamin and antioxidant content.
Baked oats with berries
Oats are a powerhouse when it comes to whole grains, providing 4 grams of fiber per 1/2-cup (40-gram) serving (
Ensuring a good fiber intake is important for regularity and gut health (
Considering that they’re relatively neutral in flavor, oats can be combined with a variety of other ingredients, including fruit, dairy, and nuts.
For this reason, they make a healthy and versatile addition to any brunch.
To prepare baked oats, most recipes will have you combine oats, nuts, baking powder, and some seasonings with milk, eggs, a sweetener, and butter or oil.
Before baking, you can add a layer of berries to the top for additional flavor and antioxidants.
Higher protein French toast
French toast is among the most popular brunch items due to its sweetness and irresistible mouthfeel. That said, French toast may lack fiber, depending on the type of bread used.
To increase the fiber content, choose a whole grain or wheat bread as opposed to traditional white bread, which has minimal fiber.
Here are a few tips to boost the protein content when making French toast:
- Add protein powder of your choice to the batter.
- Use ultra-filtered milk, which is milk that has been filtered to remove some water and lactose (milk sugar), leaving behind a more concentrated milk with more protein.
- Add high protein toppings like chia or hemp seeds.
- Create a protein “sauce” by mixing protein powder and water or milk.
Veggie egg muffins
Veggie egg muffins tick all the boxes when it comes to brunch options — they’re tasty, nutritious, and easy to make.
For these tasty treats, you’ll evenly portion out the ingredients into muffin tins to make handheld egg muffins.
The options here are endless, though most recipes will recommend that you chop up vegetables of your choice, pour a scrambled egg mixture over them, top them with cheese, and bake them in the oven.
The eggs provide a good source of protein, while the vegetables contribute important micronutrients and fiber.
For a heartier muffin, try adding shredded potatoes. Their starch content may make them more filling.
Be sure to use nonstick cooking spray or coat the muffin tins with oil to avoid frustration during cleanup.
To create healthier at-home brunch options, focus on creating a more balanced meal that includes a good source of protein, as well as fruits and veggies. In addition, minimize added sugars and saturated fats when possible.
Meeting friends or family at a restaurant for brunch can be a fantastic way to catch up over a meal. However, when eating out for brunch, you may have fewer options regarding what goes on your plate.
Here are some ways to make healthier choices when heading to your favorite brunch spot.
Sub in veggies
Another way to improve the nutritional profile of your meal is to substitute starchy sides, such as French fries, potatoes, or rice, for vegetables or a salad.
Often, the reason that certain traditional dishes are considered unhealthy is due to their lack of micronutrient–containing vegetables.
When eating out, you can simply sub out some of the starch on your plate for vegetables to easily boost the nutrient content of your meal.
It’s important to note that nutrient needs vary between individuals, so you’ll want to consider your personal requirements.
Get butter or sauces on the side
Many restaurants’ menu items are served with dressing, sauce, butter, or gravy.
While these condiments can add great flavor to a meal, they can also be very high in calories. If you want to choose healthier options, try ordering any butter, sauce, or gravy on the side the next time you go for brunch.
This allows you to regulate just how much you put on your food, which may eliminate some calories.
Some common menu choices you may do this with include salads, egg Benedict, and toast.
Limit the alcohol
For many, going out to brunch wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a cocktail, such as a mimosa or Bloody Mary.
This means that after a few drinks, you may tend to overindulge in foods that you wouldn’t have eaten had you not consumed alcohol.
Therefore, to promote a healthier brunch when eating out, it’s best to limit or forgo alcohol.
Eating out adds a layer of difficulty when trying to select healthier brunch options. My top strategies to ensure a more nutritious brunch include keeping an eye on calories, substituting in veggies, getting condiments on the side, and limiting alcohol.
If you’re following a weight loss diet, brunch may present some barriers to your goals.
The main brunch dishes include higher calorie food options, fewer veggies, and alcoholic beverages.
To stay on track, whether eating out or staying home, you may want to make certain compromises to maintain a calorie deficit, or eating fewer calories than you burn.
Here are some of my top recommended strategies for brunching while on a weight loss diet.
Plan out your meals in advance
When following a weight loss diet, planning out your meals may help keep you on track (
If you plan on having a heavier meal for brunch, you may want to choose slightly lower calorie meals throughout the rest of the day.
For example, here’s what your meals could look like on a day you plan for brunch:
- Pre-brunch: Greek yogurt topped with berries and granola
- Brunch: a bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese, as well as a Bloody Mary
- Dinner: a salad made of mixed greens and topped with chicken breast, chickpeas, carrots, tomatoes, whole grain croutons, and a light dressing
One strategy is to eat a light meal within a couple of hours before brunch to prevent you from being overly hungry when you sit down for your meal.
Include fruits and vegetables
When it comes to weight loss, fruits and vegetables are your friends.
They add bulk to your diet, helping fill you up and prevent hunger, which may aid your weight loss efforts (
In addition, they’re loaded with important micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, which serve countless functions throughout the body.
Some ways to incorporate more fruits and veggies when eating brunch include:
- Eating a salad before your mainentrée.
- Replacing some of the starches in your meal with vegetables.
- Ordering a salad as your main meal.
- Topping pancakes, waffles, crepes, or French toast with berries.
Don’t forget lean proteins
Another important component of evidence–based weight loss is getting enough protein.
Like fruits and veggies, protein can help fill you up and stave off hunger when you’re in a caloric deficit (
When it comes to protein, you may want to stick with leaner varieties that contain lower amounts of fat, such as 90% lean or higher ground meats, chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, tofu, seitan, and other plant-based meat substitutes.
Generally, aim to eat at least 0.7–1.0 grams of protein per pound (1.6–2.2 grams per kg) of body weight daily to promote a healthy muscle mass and reduce hunger (
Substitute with egg whites
Eggs are a versatile, staple brunch food that can be prepared in numerous ways.
The fat contained in eggs is generally considered a healthy fat due to its high omega-3 content. Omega-3s are a type of fat that helps reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and certain cancers (
But if you want to reduce the fat content of your brunch, a common practice is to choose egg whites, which contain virtually no fat and are high in protein.
Their low fat content, however, means that they’re low in those important omega-3s, as well as in other nutrients. Therefore, to get the best of both worlds, many folks choose to use 1–2 whole eggs mixed with egg whites.
This method reduces the overall fat content but still ensures you get some healthy fats, keeping you on track for your weight loss goals without compromising the nutrient content of your diet.
Going for brunch while losing weight may present some challenges. To stay on track with your goals, try planning out your meals, substituting in vegetables, including lean proteins, and substituting egg whites for eggs.
Gathering for brunch with friends and family can be an excellent occasion to create lasting memories and share some delicious foods.
For those who want to enjoy brunch while keeping a well-balanced diet in mind, I’ve reviewed some foods and strategies to make healthier brunch choices — wherever you are.
When eating brunch at home, try including more whole grains, protein, and vegetables in your recipes.
If you’re eating brunch at a restaurant, check out the calorie content of the menu selections, and don’t forget that alcohol may affect your food choices.
Lastly, if you’re enjoying brunch while pursuing weight loss, it may help to plan out your meals ahead of time — and don’t neglect fruits, veggies, and lean proteins!
By combining these strategies next time you have brunch, you’ll be prepared to make healthier food choices that are in line with your nutritional goals.