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Holiday brunch can set the mood for the holidays

Published 4:35pm Saturday, December 15, 2012

One of my favorite things about the holidays is getting together for holiday brunch.

In my house that usually means something along the lines of an egg bake, homemade granola with Greek yogurt and fresh berries.

Brunch is a great meal for entertaining, as everyone loves breakfast and the smells from your kitchen will entice them to stay awhile.

Here are a few tips for your next holiday brunch:

 Keep it simple

Less is more.  I speak from experience from trying to do too much and then not being able to mingle with your guests.  Keep things simple.

For the brunch menu, just choose some type of fruit, protein and grain.

If it’s possible, try to get things ready the day before so you don’t have to get up too early the morning of the brunch. Simplifying helps you relax and enjoy your guests.

 Keep it colorful

When you plan your brunch, think about how to use fresh ingredients, like fruits and vegetables, as much as possible.  If you are making an egg bake, dice some peppers, onions and mushrooms to add to the flavor and color of your entrée.

Display a few options for fresh fruit, whether it’s a mix of different color berries or melons.

The more color you have, the more enticing it is to the appetite. 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 dried fruits.

 Get in the kitchen together

Two is better than one in most cases, even in the kitchen.  Invite your friends and family into the kitchen to help prepare the meal.

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-almond granola

Serves 19 (1/2 cup each)

Active time: 10 minutes

Total time: 2 hours (with cooling)

All you need

•2⁄3 cup frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed

•1⁄2 cup maple syrup

•1⁄3 cup almond oil or canola oil

•1⁄4 cup packed dark brown sugar

•1 tbsp ground cinnamon

•1⁄2 tsp salt, or to taste

•5 cups Hy-Vee 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

All you do

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.

Source: adapted from Eating Well, Inc.

Holiday cranberry granola apple parfait

Serves 2 (1 cup each)

All you need

•1 Honeycrisp apple

•1 tsp honey

•1⁄8 tsp cinnamon

•2 (6 ounces each) vanilla Greek yogurt, divided

•½ cup prepared Cranberry Almond Granola, divided (see recipe)

All you do

1. Core and dice Honeycrisp apple.  In a small bowl, combine apple, honey and cinnamon.  Set aside.

2. In 2 parfait glasses, alternately layer yogurt, apple mixture and granola; repeat layers.

Nutrition facts per serving: 340 calories, 6 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 54 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 19 g protein

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