A few weekends ago I was out for brunch at Cora Breakfast and Lunch (a Canadian breakfast chain) with a bunch of friends when we noticed the most insane breakfast special: banana chocolate morning cake. Despite being called a morning cake (which sounds healthy), it was essentially just chocolate cake topped with bananas and caramel sauce. In fact, a lot of items on Cora’s menu are pretty extravagant, even though they promote themselves as a healthy restaurant.
I was curious about the nutrition content of the meals at Cora but realized that their website doesn’t list it, so I tried Googling it. And I still found virtually nothing other than information for select dishes on websites like My Fitness Pal. But this nutrition information was incomplete and potentially inaccurate. So I was inspired to write this post about healthy options at Cora Breakfast and Lunch. I’m not working undercover at the restaurant so I don’t know the actual nutrition information, but as a Registered Dietitian, I can make my best guess.
And based on my guesses, these are what I would recommend for some of the top healthy options at Cora Breakfast and Lunch, as well as the dishes that you shouldn’t be fooled by. I didn’t include my estimated calorie counts for each dish because I don’t think that’s what healthy eating should be about. What’s important is eating nutritious foods and paying attention to your hunger and satiety cues. But I will say that none of these items are even half as bad as Cora’s 1990s Harvest – yikes!
1. Peggy’s Poached
This breakfast would probably be my top pick for the healthiest menu item at Cora. It comes with one poached egg on toast, a small dish of cottage cheese, and about a half plate of fruit. It’s my top choice because it has the best balance of carbs, protein and fat out of all the dishes, while also providing a good variety of healthy foods. I like that it comes with cottage cheese, which is a good source of lean protein and calcium. And the generous portion of fruit gives you a ton of vitamins, minerals, and fibre!
2. Two Eggs and Fruit
This is one of the more plain menu items at Cora, but definitely one of the healthiest. As the name suggests it comes with two eggs any style, about half a plate of fruit, and 2 pieces of toast, which is a reasonable portion size. Although it’s more heavy on the carbs from the ~2 cups of fruit and 2 pieces of toast, the fruit is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. I also like that this dish doesn’t contain any added sugar and it has a good amount of protein from the eggs.
3. Two Eggs and Ham
This dish includes two eggs, two pieces of toast, and a choice of ham, sausage, or bacon. While it doesn’t have the benefit of fruit with it, I also consider this to be a fairly healthy dish since the portion size isn’t unreasonably large. While I don’t recommend eating processed meats regularly, once in a while is certainly not harmful. The best choice of the three meats would be ham since it’s lower in fat and higher in protein by weight than sausage and bacon.
4. Yogurt and Harvest Crunch
Yogurt and granola from restaurants isn’t always a healthy choice. As I wrote about in this post, it can often be very high in sugar and calories! But Cora does two things right: it uses plain yogurt and a small portion of granola. Since the yogurt is plain, it doesn’t contain any added sugar – but it does provide some protein and important nutrients like calcium. The granola itself is high in sugar, but the 3-4 tbsp portion size means you’re not getting too much. Instead the majority of the sugar in this dish is the natural kind in the fruit, which is more slowly absorbed in your body thanks to fruit’s fibre.
Don’t be fooled by these dishes:
- The Samira Wake-Up: This dish is essentially just a huge (and I mean huge) plate of fruit with a side of toast. These are perfectly healthy foods, but all you are essentially getting in this meal is a whole lot of carbs. Order the eggs and fruit instead so that you get protein in your meal! Or if you’re vegan and have limited other options on the menu, have a few packages of peanut butter with this dish to add some protein and healthy fat to it.
- Ode to Oatmeal: Oatmeal sounds like a healthy choice, right? It is… but not when it’s served topped with cream, maple syrup, and sugary granola as well as a side of toast. If you order this dish, ask for all the toppings on the side so that you can control how much you add.
- Waffles with fresh fruit: Just because it comes with fresh fruit, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Along with fruit, this dish also comes with custard and whipped cream. Sounds more like dessert than breakfast to me!
The advice in this post for healthy options at Cora Breakfast and Lunch can be used at other breakfast restaurants too. The things to keep in mind are to look for reasonable portion sizes; aim for a balanced breakfast of protein, fat, and carbohydrates; and avoid breakfasts that sound more like dessert. And keep in mind that you don’t always have to order healthily – it’s 100% okay to indulge every once in a while too!