There are many aspects of our pre-pandemic lives we miss: workout classes, traveling and, of course, eating at restaurants with friends.
If you can't wait until you're able to have a long, fun brunch with pals, consider hosting your own.
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With these healthy brunch recipes, it'll almost feel like you're dining al fresco at your favorite eatery. From avocado toast to bloody marys, these seven go-to menu items hit the spot.
1. Easy Poached Egg Avocado Toast
While avo toast is a trendy brunch order, it also happens to be a healthy choice. Eggs pack serious nutritional benefits but where most people go wrong is the way they prep their eggs, Ashley Shaw, RD, says.
Instead of frying them in butter, this recipe features poached eggs — a delicious and healthy cooking option. Thanks to the combo of protein from the eggs and the healthy fat from the avocado, this recipe will keep you full and satisfied for hours.
If you're intimidated by poaching an egg, Shaw suggests the next-best option: a hard-boiled egg, which doesn't require any added fat and calories. "If you can't get your hands on a ripe avocado, store-bought guacamole is a great substitute. Or, try an alternative spread like hummus for a fun twist on this classic," she recommends.
Get the Easy Poached Egg Avocado Toast recipe and nutrition info here.
If you're in the mood for some Mexican-inspired flavors, this egg-centric quesadilla can be created in mild, medium or spicy zest, dependent on your tolerance for heat.
Not only do eggs serve as the high-protein star of this brunch recipe, but they also offer various antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin, which benefit our eye health, Melissa Nieves, RD, says.
Eggs also provide the essential nutrient choline. "Choline supports fat metabolism, DNA synthesis, cell maintenance and regulation of the nervous system," Shaw shares.
This recipe also calls for salsa — but if you don't have a jar on hand, you can make your own with finely chopped tomato, onion and peppers as well as fresh cilantro, cumin and cayenne, Shaw says.
Get the Eggsadilla recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Hemp Protein Pancakes
While some folks go savory when they meet their friends for brunch, others can't resist their sweet tooth. Sadly, those butter-smothered chocolate chip pancakes aren't a great way to start your day.
This hemp protein recipe, however, will help fulfill your sugar craving while offering nutritional benefits, too. Shaw raves about hemp as an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber and heart-healthy omega-3s.
"It's great to indulge in our favorite foods, especially on the weekends, but making sure your breakfast is rich in protein will keep a cheat meal from turning into a cheat day," she says. "There is no shortage of protein in these pancakes, so enjoy yourself."
We'll admit it: there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe. And if you miss one of the proteins, Shaw says that's OK.
"Garbanzo bean flour can be replaced with whole-wheat flour or even almond flour," she shares. "If you have hemp hearts and not the powder (or vice versa) add a little more of what you do have."
Get the Hemp Protein Pancakes recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Avocado Hollandaise Eggs Benedict
No brunch is complete without a delicious Eggs Benefict — and this recipe spices jazzes up with sweet potato and smoked salmon for protein.
To bump up the fiber content, consider adding some sauteed spinach, which packs iron, folate, magnesium and potassium, Shaw says.
"You can even add in any leftover veggies you may have from last night's dinner to jazz up the recipe. That's the beauty of eggs. Anything goes," she says.
Get the Avocado Hollandaise Eggs Benedict recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Lamb Shakshuka
Featuring popular spices from the Middle East and North Africa, shakshuka is a beloved brunch dish that can easily be recreated at home. With bountiful veggies and good-for-you ingredients, this recipe will have your mouth watering from the moment you turn on the stovetop.
It also happens to have many hidden treasures: avocado oil, which is high in healthy fats and bone broth, which helps reduce inflammation, Mora says. Tomatoes, too, of course, are a balanced part of any diet.
Since most of us might not have lamb on hand, Mora says ground lean beef, chicken and tofu are all solid choices.
Get the Lamb Shakshuka recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Bloody Mary
It's not brunch without some booze! Rather than going the mimosa route, which packs your morning with sugar, Mora suggests this bloody mary recipe.
The tomato juice the recipe calls for contains lycopene, vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene, an antioxidant that's linked to lowered cholesterol levels. Mora also notes it helps to regulate digestion.
If you don't have tomato juice on hand, Nieves suggests diluting tomato sauce or paste, or even smashing fresh tomatoes. And to monitor how many rounds of drinks you have, try to have one full eight-ounce glass of water with each bloody mary.
Get the Bloody Mary recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Savory Protein Oats
If you're not exactly a breakfast person, finding something to eat can be tricky. That's where this savory oats recipe comes in.
It's high-fiber, high-protein and it'll keep you full for several hours, Nieves says. And, don't limit yourself on the savory protein add-ons. Chicken, turkey and port sausage are all excellent protein-rich options, says Maria Sorbara Mora, CDN, the executive director of Integrated Eating Dietetics-Nutrition.
The same goes for tofu if you're on a plant-based diet.
Get the Savory Protein Oats recipe and nutrition info here.