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How to Brunch Like a Boss

Brunch doesn’t have to be an overly sweet, unhealthy, mid-morning meal. Follow these nutritionist-approved ideas so you can keep it healthy and brunch like a boss! Brunch - a delicious plate smash of breakfast and lunch gives you the best of both meals. Cast your eye over any brunch menu and you’ll see a much wider selection of items to tuck into. What’s more, if you time it right, you’ll be properly awake, much more sociable and have had the chance to work up an appetite.

You may be tempted by Cinnamon Rolls, Banana Bread or a high stack of Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes, but how delicious do Breakfast Burritos, Avocado, Basil and Strawberry Salad or a Baked Autumn Casserole sound? Brunch gives you loads of sweet and savoury options. If you believe the old saying, that you should breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince, and eat dinner like a pauper, then you could definitely eat brunch like a boss! 

But while this sounds like the perfect, a late start to the day brunch can be a high-stakes affair. There’s a common pitfall that you probably want to avoid, where instead of eating a meal that sets you up for the rest of the day, you end up in the middle of a carb-fest which leaves you in a post-brunch slump. Yikes… brunch bites back!

Brunching like a boss

So if your goal is to eat the most healthy foods for brunch, what can you do to make sure you end up with a meal which keeps you at the top of your game? The type of meal that keeps your taste buds satisfied, is kind to your waistline AND gets your energy up and your brain switched on? 

For starters, you could take a look at the types of foods on your plate - ensuring that you’ve got a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats and oils. (Don’t worry, this is actually quite easy to do and once you get into the swing of things, I bet you’ll find yourself applying these principles to all of your meals.)

Here are some simple ideas on how to have a delicious brunch, while enjoying the carbohydrates, proteins and fats which are needed for optimal health.

How to eat a healthier brunch

1. Cut back on the sugary carbohydrates

A lot of the go-to recipes for brunch tend to be quite high in sugar. Since you probably know all about the negative impact of high sugar diets, the nutritionally empty calories and how sugar affects your brain and health, you might want to give the sweeter muffins, pancakes and brownies a miss and eat something savoury instead. However, if you have a sweet tooth there is another way around this, especially if you are making brunch at home. And that’s to use an alternative to sugar, honey and syrup.

The key here is to think low GL, that’s low glycaemic load. This is a measure of how big an impact a food will have on your blood sugar levels - the lower the GL, the less the impact. In the long term, this can make a huge difference to your health. In one recent study of breakfast eaters, the people who ate more wholegrain foods (which are naturally higher in fibre and have a lower GL) had a better appetite, blood glucose and insulin control and a more stable weight.[1]

Even better, these lower-GL alternatives still have a hint of sweetness, so you’re less likely to notice the difference once you make the change.

Some of the more popular low-GL sugars and syrups include:

  • yacon syrup - use this on pancakes or waffles instead of honey or maple syrup
  • coconut sugar - the perfect alternative to brown sugar
  • erythritol or Stevia - a replacement for castor sugar

2. Balance the essential fats

The types of oils and fats in your meal can also make a huge difference as to how healthy your brunch is. The golden rule here is to get the essential fats and oils up and to keep the saturated and processed oils down. If you’re eating oily fish (like salmon, sardines or mackerel), then you’re already ahead of the game. These fish are naturally rich in the essential omega-3 oils, the type that is so good for your skin, mood, heart and joints. But vegetarians and vegans needn’t worry that they’re missing out, as seaweed and flaxseeds are also particularly rich in some of the omega-3 oils.

An easy way to include these healthy oils at brunch is to make a salad dressing to pour over a savoury dish. How about a Sea Vegetable and Cucumber Salad with a Flaxseed and Yuzu Salad Sauce? Yes, it does sound totally delicious.

3. Pick the perfect protein

What about getting enough protein? Does this mean that you have to eat eggs? Well, eggs are pretty nifty as they have protein in the whites - in fact, the average size egg has 13g of protein - but there are plenty of other foods you can have. How about tempeh, tofu, quinoa or buckwheat? It won’t be hard to find a recipe that features them. More importantly, particularly for vegans, these are the types of plant foods that contain complete protein. (This simply means that when you digest your protein-rich food you get adequate amounts of all of the amino acids. In this way your body has the right materials to build the protein-rich structures you need - like your skin, nails and hair, the brain chemicals that influence your mood, or the immune system cells that keep you well).

Ok, back to what’s on your plate. Another way to meet your protein needs is to fortify your foods. By this, I simply mean giving them a boost by adding some protein powder. In fact, if you’re baking at home, you can experiment in the kitchen: once you have your recipe you could either swap some of the flour and replace it with protein powder, or you can add the protein powder and then add extra liquid to the recipe. It can be a bit of trial and error but isn’t this how the kitchen magic happens? Brownies, cakes, pancakes and cookies can all be given a boost with a plant protein powder.

What to drink at brunch when you don’t want booze

The other very important decision to make is what to drink with your brunch. Typically if you’re eating brunch during a relaxed meet-up with friends, as an indulgently late start to the day, or as a celebratory meal, then the bubbles and spirits probably come out. 

How many brunches kick off with a pop of Prosecco in a bellini or mimosa, or a glug of vodka in a sea breeze or Bloody Mary? So what else can you drink at brunch when you don’t want an alcoholic drink in hand?

Switch the booze for natural bubbles

Fruity, bubbly and refreshing is the way forward here, and if you want more than a glass of sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon then these are the drinks to have in mind: water kefir, kombucha and botanical sodas.

While water kefir and kombucha are fermented drinks - so they’re rich in probiotics and can give your digestive system a little bit of love - they also are quite similar to botanical sodas. They’ll be low in sugar, sweetened with natural fruits, and delightfully sparkling and make a great alternative to Bellinis or Buck’s Fizz. Bottoms up to an alcohol-free brunch!

Of all the meal-smashes you can eat (remember linner?) brunch is the most decadent and celebratory - the first meal after a late start to the day, often washed down with something boozy and bubbly. But brunch can actually be a healthy affair and be tasty too.

You could stay sweet and cook with lower-GL carbohydrates and sugar alternatives, up the essential fats with a saucy salad dressing, boost your buns and pancakes with a spoonful of a plant protein powder, or swap a boozy cocktail for an alcohol-free fermented sparkling drink. Whichever change you make, you’ll be increasing your intake of the healthiest nutrients and brunching like a boss.


[1] Pereira et al (2011) Breakfast frequency and quality may affect glycaemia and appetite in adults and children. The Journal of nutrition

Nina Sabat Is is a BANT-registered nutritional therapist who encourages step-by-step changes to create healthier habits that last a lifetime for women who want to eat right, sleep tight and feel super again.

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