Top Five Tips to Build a Better Brunch

While brunch seems to be a phenomenon mainly enjoyed in larger cities, the concept is quite popular across the country. No longer relegated to just Mother’s Day and Easter, brunch out on the town is a fun way to celebrate days that you don’t have to work or go to school. Eat a meal at a restaurant in the mid-morning or early afternoon? Don’t mind if I do! 

But just because this meal has a name that combines two other meals doesn’t mean that you need to consume multiple meal’s worth of calories :)

Yesterday, I had a lovely treat by joining my great friend Jenn for brunch at Tempo Cafe. I dined on the scrumptious Morning Glory (“a trio of fresh strawberries, bananas and blueberries combined with your choice of either pancakes, French toast or waffle”) with buckwheat pancakes.

SO good! This dish brings me to tip number one: if you top your sweet items, such as crepes, pancakes, French toast, waffles, etc., with fresh fruit, you won’t even miss syrup (thus saving hundreds of calories). Did you know that just 1/4 cup of maple syrup has 210 calories and 48 grams of sugar? Pour at your own risk ;) Many restaurants offer sugar free syrup varieties that have a fraction of the calories if you don’t mind artificial sweeteners.

Tip number two: when ordering anything you think may come with butter on top (toast, pancakes, a bagel), ask for it on the side. Normally, the chef smothers on copious amounts of butter that you wouldn’t normally eat. Ordering it on the side allows you to use a small amount if you like— or none at all, which you can’t do if your dish already has a scoop of butter on it!

 (Image from Baking Bites)

Tip number three: if you wake up more than a couple hours before your brunch is planned, eat a little something. You don’t need to starve until your “meal” and it’s wise not to. By biting a bit before the brunch, you’ll stoke your metabolism after sleeping (and fasting) all night as well as ease your hunger so you won’t tear up the entire brunch buffet or menu. A fruit cup, 1/2 an english muffin with a small smear of peanut butter or a hard boiled egg may do the trick. This tip is especially important if you plan to hit a brunch buffet (although the a la carte menu is generally a simpler way to end up with a reasonably-sized brunch). Watch those portion sizes!

Tip number four: watch your glasses! It’s way too easy to overdose on calories and alcohol if you partake in bottomless Bloody Marys or mimosas. Feel free to treat yourself to one, but try to switch to water after that if you can. You’ll thank me the next day! Plus, is it just me or is it much more satisfying to eat calories and nutrients rather than drink them?

 (Image from Drink Inventor)

And finally, tip number five: when opting for eggs, egg whites have lower calories than whole eggs (although the yolk does have good qualities too, so weigh your options). I like to order veggie-packed omelets or scrambles with either egg substitute or egg whites. Some restaurants will even cook these dishes in PAM/cooking spray rather than tablespoons of oil—you just have to ask!

…Which is basically the main lesson today: don’t be afraid to ask for your restaurant dishes to be made the way you want them to be made. The worst that can happen is the server will say no! At most restaurants, the servers and chefs want you, the customer to be happy. 

So there you have it! My top five Healthful Bites brunch tips. Now it’s your turn: what are your orders, tips and tricks to dine out well at brunch?

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