Brunch. The marker of a Saturday well spent. And with Kiwis not afraid to spend $15 (or more) on their weekly smashed avo toast, it's a tradition we've become heavily invested in. But, listen up, because that house deposit isn't the only thing your favourite mid-morning meal could be costing you.
Currently, four non-communicable diseases - respiratory disease, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease - are responsible for over 90 per cent of deaths in New Zealand. And an unhealthy diet as well as other controllable lifestyle behaviours like not getting enough exercise, poor nutrition, smoking, and drinking more than we should can play a pivotal role in all four conditions.
So, while we've got nothing against the humble bircher bowl or (slightly more pretentious) 63C egg, brunch can still be a good place to start if you're looking to make one small change to benefit your health. Here are some simple switches to make indulgent menu options a little more healthful.
Make your #onechange
Walk to your chosen brunch spot this weekend.
Sugar for a slow-release
Ask your waiter for the low-down on how sweet dishes are prepared. While your classic pancakes and Belgian waffles might need striking off the list, plenty of places are experimenting with heart healthy ingredients like buckwheat, oatmeal and wholegrains in their hotcakes. Top them with fresh berries - hold the syrup - and you'll get a natural sugar hit, plus an antioxidant boost at the same time.
Carbs for cruciferous veggies
Instead of your go-to potato rosti, opt for the likes of cauliflower fritters for a healthier base with a similar texture. Or see if you can switch out sourdough for a medley of charred cruciferous greens, like bok choy and collards. Alternatively, you could keep things fresh with kale and watercress. As well as being packed full of vitamins, there's also some evidence that suggests these kinds of veggies reduce the risk of lung cancer.
Red meat for meat-free
What is brunch without bacon? Well, just ask the vegetarians and pescatarians.
Both red and processed meat (which includes meat that's been cured, smoked or salted, as well as those with added preservatives) have been linked to bowel cancer and diabetes. Whereas fish and greens - with their catalogue of antioxidants - are thought to reduce the risk of cancer in digestive areas, such as the mouth and stomach.
So, next time you're tossing up between the bacon, salmon or wilted spinach eggs benny, choose wisely.
Pork for the right pork
And look, if you absolutely can't say no to some sweet, sweet pork, at least make sure you choose a healthier format. Steer clear of sausages - especially chorizo - and say no to the maple-coated bacon chunks. Also avoid any pulled pork that's been cooked over a charcoal grill. Instead, limit yourself to two rashers of straight up grilled bacon (with the fat trimmed). Or even better, take a peek at the lunch menu, and see if you could sub in a slice of slow-roasted pork tenderloin.
Transport for trekking
Choosing a brunch spot somewhere a little out of the way (but still within walking distance) is a good way to make sure your body doesn't go into a post-feed slump. In fact, a gentle stroll after a meal has been proven to improve digestion and regulate blood sugar levels. Plus, it'll ease at least some of the guilt if you haven't quite managed to resist those ricotta hot cakes with hot caramel sauce.