While the origins of the meal remain a mystery, the word “brunch” first appeared in print in an 1895 article for Hunter’s Weekly. In “Brunch: A Plea,” British writer Guy Beringer proposed an alternative to the heavy post-church fare of the day, in favor of a lighter mid-morning meal.
“Why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee?” Beringer suggested. “Brunch is cheerful, sociable, and inciting. … It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”
More than a century later, Beringer would be happy with the way America embraced and elevated the culinary hybrid to an art form — a tradition treasured by the hungry (and the hungover).
“At brunch, the last thing you want is last-minute fuss,” says Ellie Krieger. “Basically, these recipes can be prepped in advance.”
To keep it light, think alternatives. “For breakfast, people lean on traditional bacon and sausage,” says Krieger. “Instead try Canadian bacon which delivers the same smoky pork flavor, but is a much leaner option.”
As for presentation, Krieger suggests an inexpensive, edible tablescape. “Pick up fresh, colorful spring vegetables and herbs at the farmers market,” Krieger says. “A bunch of fresh mint in a simple vase or untrimmed radishes on a plate makes an elegant centerpiece.”
All recipes courtesy Ellie Krieger.
Spicy Egg and Avocado Wrap
(Makes 4 servings)
- 8 large eggs
- 4 large red-leaf lettuce leaves
- 4 whole-wheat wrap breads (about 9 inches in diameter)
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, sliced
- 1 medium tomato (about 4 ounces), sliced
- 1⁄8 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon prepared Thai chili sauce or hot sauce, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place eggs in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover with water, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 9 minutes. Remove from heat, rinse with cold water and peel. Remove yolks from 4 of the eggs and discard yolks. Slice remaining egg whites and whole eggs into 1/4-inch slices.
Lay piece of lettuce leaf over center of each wrap bread. Top each with avocado, sliced eggs, tomato, and cucumber. Sprinkle with chili sauce and season with salt and pepper. Fold one side of bread about 2 inches over filling to form pocket and roll into wrap. Eat immediately or cover in foil and store in refrigerator for up to 1 day.
Per Serving (1 wrap)
- Calories: 370
- Total Fat: 14 g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Sodium: 890 mg
- Carbohydrate: 45 g
- Fiber: 9 g
- Protein: 20 g
- Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 2 medium-fat meat, 2 vegetable, 2 fat
Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Honey-Walnut Spread
(Makes 4 servings)
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- ½ cup plain Greek-style nonfat yogurt
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 8 slices cinnamon raisin bread
- 1 peach (or apple or pear), pitted (or cored)
Toast walnuts in dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly, then chop them finely. In small bowl, add chopped walnuts to yogurt and honey and stir until well combined. Spread will keep in refrigerator in airtight container for up to 3 days. Just stir well before using. When ready to serve, toast bread and cut fruit into 1/4–inch slices. Spread about 1 tablespoon of walnut spread onto each piece of bread. Top each piece with few slices of fruit. Eat immediately.
Per Serving (2 pieces)
- Calories: 250
- Total Fat: 8 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
- Protein: 10 g
- Carbohydrate: 37 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Sodium: 220 mg
- Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, ½ fruit, ½ low-fat dairy, 1 fat
Egg in a Basket with Smoked Turkey and Asparagus
(Makes 4 servings)
- 3/4 pound asparagus stalks
(about 3/4 bunch), woody bottoms removed
- 4 pieces whole-wheat sandwich bread
- 4 teaspoons butter, melted
- Cooking spray
- 6 ounces sliced smoked turkey, sliced again into thin ribbons
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large eggs
Place asparagus in steamer basket over pot of boiling water. Cover and steam until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Chop asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces. Brush both sides of each slice of bread with melted butter. Using 3-inch cookie cutter, cut hole in center of each slice of bread; reserve cutouts.
Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Cook turkey slices until browned around edges, about 3 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until it is heated through, about 2 minutes, then season with pepper. Transfer mixture to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Place 2 bread slices and cutouts in same skillet and crack one egg into hole of each slice. Cook until egg whites are set and bread is toasted on underside, about 3 minutes. Using spatula, flip bread/egg slices and cutouts and cook additional 1 minute. Transfer bread/egg pieces to individual plates. Repeat with remaining bread slices and cutouts. Top each one with 1/4 of turkey-asparagus mixture. Arrange cutouts on each plate.
Per Serving (1 egg in a basket with ½ cup asparagus-turkey topping and 1 bread cutout)
- Calories: 270
- Total Fat: 11 g
- Saturated Fat: 5 g
- Sodium: 630 mg
- Carbohydrate: 25 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 33 g
- Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 lean meat, 1 medium fat meat, 1 vegetable, 1 fat
I don’t have a bread machine, dough hooks, a rolling pin, or much counter space, for that matter. But I do have a bowl, a spoon, a few basic ingredients, and a desire to overcome my fear of baking something so falsely intimidating.
Try it. I dare you.
And the best part is … the bread, which can be served round the clock.
Breakfast: Serve toasted with a drizzle of honey and a side of cottage cheese.
Lunch: Serve with a scoop of light chicken salad on a bed of greens.
Dinner: Serve with an entree of honey-glazed salmon.
Dessert: Serve with a scoop of low-fat coffee ice cream.
Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Bread
(Makes 1 loaf)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons margarine, softened
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons milk
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons butter, melted
Warm milk in small saucepan until it bubbles. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside until frothy. Mix in eggs, sugar, butter or margarine, salt, and raisins. Stir in cooled milk. Gradually add flour to make a stiff dough. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, about 10 minutes. Place in greased mixing bowl and turn to coat dough. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Press or roll out on lightly floured surface into large rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons milk over dough. Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 3 teaspoons cinnamon, and sprinkle mixture on top of dough. Roll up tightly, about 3 inches in diameter, and tuck under ends. Place loaf into well greased 9 x 5-inch pan. Lightly grease top and allow to rise again for 1 hour.
Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until loaf is lightly browned. Remove from pan and brush with melted butter or margarine. Let cool before slicing.