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Brunch can be as fun, festive as any other holiday meal

Published: Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 10:08 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 10:12 a.m. CDT

The holidays mean two things for most people: family or friends and food.

At some point during the holidays, many of us either attend or host a holiday brunch. Brunch can be just as festive and fun as other holiday meals. If looking for a menu idea, consider this:

· Cranberry Pancakes (recipe below)

· Fresh cut fruit

· Yogurt parfait using Cranberry-Almond Granola (recipe below) – serve in a tall glass, alternating layers of yogurt and granola

Read below for some helpful tips and recipes for Cranberry Pancakes and Cranberry-Almond Granola.

Keep it simple

Do not try to accommodate everyone’s personal favorite. Include a grain, fruit and protein. To really keep it simple, try to prepare as many dishes as you can the day prior.

The batter for the cranberry pancakes can be made the day before and stored in the refrigerator. The cranberry-almond granola can be made up to two months prior; just store in an airtight container.   

Keep it healthy

It is very easy to overdo the calories during the holiday season. Serving a balanced brunch will help keep calories in check. Protein sources, such as a yogurt parfait, will help promote a feeling of fullness without overdoing the calories. 

Also try to include extra nutrients into your holiday brunch by using fresh or dried fruit and whole grains. Go light on the sugar by using spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and fruits.

Get family, friends involved

It is no fun to be alone in the kitchen. Delegate tasks to your loved ones. Even little hands can help by washing fresh fruit or putting together the yogurt parfaits. Use this time in the kitchen to spend some quality time with those you love.

Cranberry Pancakes

Serves 2 (2 pancakes each)

Active time: 20 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

· 1/2 cup fresh cranberries

· 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

· 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp whole-wheat flour

· 1 Tbsp yellow cornmeal

· 1 Tbsp sugar

· 1/2 tsp baking powder

· 1/8 tsp salt

· 1/8 tsp nutmeg or 1/4 tsp vanilla

· 6 tbsp nonfat milk

· 2 Tbsp pasteurized egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters

· 1-1/2 tsp canola oil

1. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add cranberries; boil for 2 minutes. Drain and cool for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg (if using) in a large bowl.

3. Whisk milk, egg substitute, oil and vanilla (if using) in a small bowl until combined.

4. Coarsely chop the cranberries; stir into the milk mixture. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined.

5. Coat a griddle or large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Using 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake, cook 2 pancakes at a time until bubbles dot the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until browned, 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Nutrition facts per serving: 189 calories; 4g fat (0g sat, 1g mono); 1mg cholesterol; 34g carbohydrate; 6g added sugars; 6g protein; 3g fiber; 336mg sodium; 185mg potassium.

Carbohydrate servings: 2

Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat

Source: adapted from Eating Well, Inc.

Cranberry-Almond Granola

Serves 19 (1/2 cup each)

Active time: 10 minutes

Total time: 2 hours (with cooling)

· 2/3 cup frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed

· 1/2 cup maple syrup

· 1/3 cup canola oil

· 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

· 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

· 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

· 5 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

· 1 cup toasted wheat germ

· 1 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped (4 1/2 ounces)

· 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (2 ounces)

· 1 cup dried cranberries, divided

1. Position racks in top and bottom of oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray.

2. Whisk apple juice concentrate, syrup, oil and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in cinnamon and salt. Mix oats, wheat germ, almonds and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Stir in the juice mixture; toss to coat. Spread on the prepared baking sheets.

3. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Reverse sheets top to bottom and back to front. Bake, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to wire racks; stir in dried cranberries. Let cool completely.

To make ahead: Store airtight for up to 2 months.

Nutrition facts per serving: 263 calories; 11g fat (1g sat, 6g mono); 0mg cholesterol; 37g carbohydrate; 12g added sugars; 6g protein; 5g fiber; 66mg sodium; 223mg potassium.

Nutrition bonus: Magnesium (21% daily value).

Carbohydrate servings: 21/2

Exchanges: 1 starch, 11/2 other carbohydrate, 11/2 fat

Source: adapted from Eating Well, Inc.

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