Healthy Menu Navigator: Brunch

What should you steer clear of besides the bottomless mimosas? Nutritionist Heather Bauer explains how to order healthy dishes off any restaurant brunch menu.
Egg white omelet (Photo:
Veggie-filled omelettes are a great choice. (Photo:


Even if you know to steer clear of the bread basket, it turns out the average restaurant meal clocks in at a whopping 1,128 calories—yep, 1,128—making it easy for even the most health-savvy among us to think we’re eating well while eating out, when we’re not.

HealthyMenuNavigatorFinal Enter nutritionist-author Heather Bauer, of Bread is the Devil and Bestowed fame—and our culinary compass. Each week, Bauer steers us toward the healthiest choices on restaurant menus of any type.

Last week, it was Greek and Mediterranean. This week, brunch! (Or breakfast for you early birds.) Happy eating, everyone.

Heather Bauer’s brunch menu navigational nugget

“My personal ‘devil’ is a bagel with lots of cream cheese,” Bauer admits, calling the combo of salt and carbs a “perfect storm.” Beware: “The bagel alone can be 600 calories!” she says.

Bauer’s also a big-time ketchup fan, but she’s mindful of the fact that slathering on too much can turn even the most virtuous of dishes into a major mid-morning salt-fest. A dollop or two on your eggs does it.


1. An egg white omelet with one slice of cheese and two veggies of your choice. Instead of the home fries that usually come with it, opt for a fruit salad, or two slices of Canadian bacon.

2. Two poached eggs with lettuce and tomato, plus one slice of dry toast (those packets of grape jelly are all kinds of bad). Add a fruit salad for a really complete meal.

3. Eggs Benedict, with no Hollandaise sauce—the eggs still provide plenty of creaminess. Or get Eggs Florentine (a nice option, because of the addition of spinach), sans hollandaise.

4. Oatmeal’s a great choice if you want something sweeter, but make sure it’s made with steel cut oats and water (not cream), and get it topped with fresh fruit. Dried fruit is full of sugar.


1. Whole wheat and buckwheat pancakes. They sound healthy, but pancakes are carb-heavy, and usually dressed up with lots of sugary maple syrup. Plus, buckwheat is mixed with other flours, so these pancakes are not gluten-free, unless the menu explicitly says so, Bauer warns.

We don’t need to tell you why French toast is a no-no. So moving along…

2. Turkey sausage! “Even though people think it’s a healthy option, it’s loaded with sodium, and restaurants cook it in a ton of oil,” Bauer explains. “It’s also much higher in calories than people realize, and it’s full-fat, because they don’t use the extra-lean ground turkey to make it.”

3. The muffin basket—avoid it at all costs! “Before you know it, you’ve eaten three mini muffins,” Bauer says, “and that won’t make you feel very good.” An understatement for the ages!

Hungry for more? Next week, Bauer’s spilling her secrets to ordering at a steakhouse. Or check out last week’s guide to ordering healthy Greek and Mediterranean food.

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