Dining Out: Brunch

Here is a rundown of popular brunch fare and tips to making your experience a healthy one.

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scrambled eggs

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Scrambled eggs with chives

Photo by: Peter Polák

Peter Polák

Some folks make brunch a weekly event, while others save the big weekend breakfast for special occasions. No matter when or where you go, you don't want to overdo it. Here is a rundown of popular brunch fare and tips to making your experience a healthy one.

Eggs

What’s a brunch menu without an omelet? No matter the restaurant, they are bond to over a few variations on eggs — scrambled, fried, a frittata, and eggs Benedict are a few popular picks. You may have been warned off eggs because of cholesterol fears, but they can be part of a healthy breakfast. Having some provides important nutrients: protein, omega-3 fats, vitamins A and D, and lutein, which helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.

Here are tips on how to order your eggs and which to skip:

    ORDER UP:
  • A combination of egg whites and whole eggs
  • Scrambled eggs (one or two)
  • Omelet with veggies such as onions, mushrooms, peppers, and spinach (if it contains more than three eggs, share it!)
  • Frittata with lean meat or a touch of cheese and veggies

    SKIP:
  • Eggs dishes made with heavy sauces such as eggs Benedict (the hollandaise sauce is high in fat)
  • Fried eggs drenched in butter
  • Fatty add-ins such as bacon, cheese and sausage

Typically eggs come with bread and hash browns on the side. Choose high-fiber breads such as whole wheat or rye and forgot the high-fat choices such as cornbread and croissants. Stick with two slices of bread and make sure to order them dry (without butter) with some jelly or jam. Some restaurants will let you order fresh fruit or sliced tomato instead of hash browns — a much healthier choice.

Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast

The carbohydrates that come from pancakes, waffles and French toast help give your brain energy, but these tasty treats can be packed with calories. Mind your portions and toppers to keep the calories and fat in check. Of course, you can always split an order with your table, too. Here are some other options to look for and avoid:

    ORDER UP:
  • Dollar-sized pancakes
  • Whole-grain pancakes such as whole wheat or buckwheat
  • Fresh fruit as a topping and 2 tablespoons of syrup
  • Turkey bacon on the side as an occasional treat
  • Butter and fruit on the side only (some places serve up canned fruit swimming in heavy sugar syrup)

    SKIP:
  • High-calorie toppers such as chocolate chips, butter and whipped cream
  • High-fat meats such as bacon and sausage

If you're brunching at home, here are some ideas on lightening up your own pancakes.

Other Brunch Goodies

A typical brunch menu may also include salads and sandwiches, which can be a healthier choice. Here are some menu items to look for:

    ORDER UP:
  • Caesar salad with grilled chicken with the dressing on the side (use about 2 tablespoons)
  • Other veggie salads (keep the high-fat add-ins to a minimum)
  • Turkey or veggie burgers with a side salad (use a splash of olive oil and vinegar)
  • Grilled chicken sandwich with steamed veggies on the side

    SKIP:
  • Cheeseburger with fries
  • Fried chicken strips or sandwich
  • Salads topped with loads of fatty ingredients such as creamy dressings, bacon, cheese and fried chicken
TELL US: What's your favorite brunch dish?

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