Putting a Healthy Twist on New Year’s Brunch

There’s nothing I love more than waking up on a holiday morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the scent of something baking in the kitchen. Last year I wrote about how to modify your favorite holiday foods (in this case, coffee cake) to make them more nutritious while maintaining the taste you love. This year, I have a new idea: let’s make over the entire New Year’s Day brunch!Raspberry scones

A typical brunch might include bagels, eggs, bacon and sausage and maybe even some pastries or doughnuts on the side. While it’s ok for everyone to indulge a bit – something I tell my patients all the time – there’s also good reason to limit these foods.

The brunch I just described is full of white (processed) flour, saturated fat (the kind that is harmful to heart health), sodium and sugar. Combined, these foods are a recipe for weight gain and increased cancer risk when eaten regularly. Moreover, this meal is completely lacking in the food components shown to help us live longer and healthier lives – vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber, to name a few.

Here are some ideas to start your New Year with a healthy New Year’s day brunch.

  • Try baking a frittata. You get your egg-fix and incorporate tasty, fresh veggies into the meal. I can’t wait to try out this Zucchini and Onion Frittata recipe (tip: you can sub out the veggies for whatever you have on hand – for example, spinach, roasted red peppers and tomatoes).
  • Instead of sugar-filled pastries, try baking healthier whole wheat raspberry scones, like these served with a spread of 100% fruit preserves. I recommend making them ½ the size when serving with other food options at brunch. I made them this morning and they are delicious – I love knowing something so tasty is also filled with whole grain oats and nutrient-rich raspberries.
  • Round out the meal with a big bowl of fresh, ripe fruit. This time of year I suggest cutting up honeydew melon, cantaloupe, apples and pineapple, and adding some red grapes for color. Squeeze a little lemon over the fruit to prevent it from browning. You can always add some berries too for added variety and color, although they tend to be more expensive in the winter. Another option is to simply serve quartered fresh juicy oranges – sprinkle them very lightly with cinnamon for a flavorful and festive touch.

Voila! This new brunch menu transforms a typical holiday meal filled with cancer-causing components to one that is packed with good nutrition while maintaining great taste. I am already looking forward to the smell of raspberry scones and coffee wafting through the house…

How will you put a healthy twist to your typical New Year’s brunch?

Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is a clinical dietitian at the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center. She has a passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. You can follow her @SonjaGoedkoopRD on twitter.


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