More than a meal, brunch is an event. Like a mini-holiday, it offers a chance to gather with friends and unwind over a nourishing meal. Brunch also promises the best of breakfast and lunch—a delightful blend of sweet and savory dishes. Unfortunately, those dishes often come packed with sugar and lack the nutrients you need to start your day and week on a metabolically-healthy note.
In Levels’s dataset of member food logs, “pancakes” are linked to an average glucose rise of 40 mg/dL—a significant blood sugar spike. And while eggs contain protein and micronutrients, they often come with toast, potatoes, or other carb-dense foods that can cause a late-afternoon energy crash. Indeed, even seemingly “healthy” breakfast options can lead to afternoon hunger and energy problems. Members are often shocked to learn that oatmeal, for example, causes a large rise in their glucose levels, followed by a dramatic drop and feelings of sluggishness.
According to Levels co-founder and chief medical officer Dr. Casey Means, brunch doesn’t have to be a metabolic bombshell.
“Brunch has so much potential!” says Casey. “I see it as a chance to start the day with ingredients that will support my health and goals for the weekend—surrounded by great company!”
In this vein, Casey shares a recipe that is rich in micronutrients and, she says, great for entertaining.
“I chose frittatas because you can throw them in the oven while you prep other dishes, which is really convenient when you’re making a big brunch,” she says. “Plus, frittatas are the perfect vessel for whatever veggies are in season—or leftover in your fridge.”
This recipe also includes a delicious side salad and reimagines pancakes with some healthy swaps: Casey uses a blend of almond and coconut flour in place of all-purpose flour and tops her pancakes with a berry compote instead of syrup.
“This recipe shows that you can have a sweet element that actually supports cell health—and doesn’t cause a huge glucose spike.”
Here are more of Casey’s brunch ingredients and why she loves them:
- Eggs are an excellent source of choline, a nutrient used to build cell walls, neurotransmitters, and more. Casey recommends using pasture-raised eggs, which, compared to caged eggs, have more vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats.
- Almond flour is a major step up from traditional white flour, which can cause dramatic glucose spikes and has little nutritional value. Almonds are a significant source of healthy fat, protein, fiber, and magnesium, which helps the body make and use energy.
- Basil seeds provide some bonus fiber, which is critical to gut health and may help lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Berries contain vitamin C, anthocyanins, and other flavonoids that can reduce inflammation. They’re also packed with fiber and don’t elevate glucose as much as other fruits.
- Garlic contains sulfur, as well as allicin, a compound with natural antimicrobial properties.
- Cinnamon has been shown to curb post-meal blood sugar spikes, particularly among people with diabetes.
- Broccoli, like all cruciferous vegetables, is filled with compounds called glucosinolates, which have anti-inflammatory properties. When broccoli is chopped, an enzyme transforms these compounds into sulforaphane, which activates antioxidant defense systems that can improve immune health.
- MCT oil may improve insulin sensitivity and promote weight loss, though more research is needed in these areas.
- Shallots and scallions, both part of the allium family, may help ward off DNA damage.
- Vinegar can help lower blood sugar, though this effect may not be universal.
Follow along as Casey makes brunch in the video above, or scroll down for the full recipe.
Serves 6-8 people
- 6 large eggs (10-inch skillet); or 8 large eggs (12-inch skillet)
- ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk (or another nut milk/milk substitute of choice)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 scallions, chopped
- 2 cups chopped broccoli
- ⅛ tsp smoked paprika
- Cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- 3 cups mixed berries (frozen berries work just as well as fresh ones)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp fresh lemon zest
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (required if using fresh berries, optional for frozen berries)
- 2 tbsp basil seeds (or chia seeds)
- Water as needed for thinning
Almond flour pancakes
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup unsweetened milk of choice
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (plus extra for frying)
- 1 cup almond flour (super fine, not almond meal)
- 2 tbsp coconut flour
- 2 tbsp allulose
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch flake salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Red lettuce
- Butter lettuce
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 4-6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or MCT oil
- 2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
- 2 tbsp balsamic or red-wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Frittata (inspired by Love & Lemons)
- Note: start by chopping your broccoli, scallions, and garlic to allow their enzymatic transformations to kick off.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Add eggs, almond milk, salt, and garlic to a large bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a cast iron skillet and place on medium heat.
- Add broccoli and scallions to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5-8 minutes, until the broccoli is tender but still bright green.
- Add smoked paprika to the skillet; then pour in eggs and gently shake the skillet to evenly distribute the mixture.
- Sprinkle with feta and cherry tomatoes.
- Bake until the eggs are set (15-20 minutes)
Berry compote (inspired by Urban Farmie)
- Add berries, salt, and fresh lemon zest to a saucepan over medium heat. If using fresh berries, add lemon juice (lemon juice is optional if you’re using frozen berries).
- Stir the berries occasionally as they begin to cook.
- Once the mixture starts boiling, stir continuously. Keep cooking and stirring until the compote thickens (5-10 minutes).
- Stir in basil or chia seeds.
- Optional: sweeten with allulose if excessively tart.
Almond flour pancakes (inspired by MadCreations)
- Crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk gently.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to whisk.
- Allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes.
- Preheat a large frying pan and coat it with a small amount of coconut oil (you can also use butter or ghee here).
- Using a spoon or measuring cup, drop small rounds (⅓ – ¼ cup) of batter into the pan.
- Cook each pancake for 1-2 minutes or until it begins to bubble. Then flip the pancake and cook on the opposite side until cooked through (another 30-60 seconds).
- Once cooked, transfer pancakes to a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm while you cook up the rest of the batter.
- Top with your berry compote.
- Dressing: In a small bowl, combine Dijon mustard, vinegar (balsamic or red-wine vinegar), salt, pepper, and oil (olive or MCT). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add lettuce and shallots.
- Drizzle dressing over greens mixture and toss to combine.
Click here to download a PDF of all four Levels Kitchen recipes!