Healthy French Toast
There are ways to make French Toast so that you feel as if you must have eaten a couple dozen “cotton candy” cones from the local County Fair. My most humble opinion is that most French Toast available in restaurants lands squarely in this category. It’s made with pure white bread (no personality, strength of character, and god forbid –no crust!!), dipped in who knows what, fried in who knows what, topped with –what? Yes, fake syrup. Wow, what a meal. Or the white thick soggy nothin’ bread is topped with cooked and sugar-laden but sort of pretty and colorful fruit slop, maybe just to make sure you offer enough panic-for-your-pancreas in your diet. I don’t know. Makes no sense to me. C’mon America. We can do better. I know, I know. I’m sure you can tell I’m kind of disgusted not exactly pleased by this kind of effort in the kitchen. I find this version of French Toast a missed opportunity to say the very least. And then again, halleluyah, there are other ways to make French Toast so that the result is delicious, REAL FOOD and worth your nutritional time. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Healthy French ToastStart with good fresh fruit, healthy bread and the healthiest (humanely raised) turkey cutlets or other breakfast meat. You could also scramble additional eggs on the side if you don’t have enough protein. Prepare the fruit first, because once the cutlets and French Toast starts cooking, you’ll be needing to pay attention to it, and it browns pretty fast. Chop, slice or use whole (like berries) any combination of fruit YOU like. Buying local or using fruit that is in season is the way to go if you can, otherwise do your best to find ripe, good produce. Frozen fruit in a bag can do in a pinch or it can supplement some fresh fruit you have on hand. Put the fruit in a bowl and add fresh squeezed orange juice, enough to keep the fruit from turning brown and add some additional flavor. Lemon or lime juice also works, but you’ll need to add a little drizzle of agave, honey or maple syrup to sweeten. If you have mint growing in your garden or on your window sill, (and if you’re overjoyed by the idea, meaning it’s not work, it’s play) go out an pick a stem for each plate and have it ready for the garnish at the end. Next, get the bread soaking in eggs and milk, but you’ll be frying the turkey cutlet strips before the French Toast. Any kind of bread works, even gluten free, kamut, rice, you name it — you can dip it into eggs and milk. I used Ezekiel Sprouted bread made by Food for Life. In a flat low glass pan or cookie sheet, place the number of slices you need for the number of people you are serving flat down in the pan. In another bowl, put one egg for each person and a couple of teaspoons of milk per egg and mix together well with a fork. Pour over the bread and let it soak in. If the bread is thick and tough (this is a GREAT way to use olderbread), poke each slice a couple of times with a fork to help the absorption process. Turn the bread slices at least once. Now do the cutlets. Cut the turkey (it comes in 1/2″ slices) into strips to fry in a little olive oil and salt. They don’t take long to cook, so watch them carefully. They will get tough if cooked too fast (high heat) or too long, but you do want them to brown a little. It’s pretty much like cooking a chicken breast strip or chicken tender. Put the meat aside in a bowl and keep warm and covered with foil in the oven on low. Now you’re going to do the toast. You can use the very same pan or griddle, no need to wash it, the flavor of the turkey and the toast are just fine together. I also like the fact that the pan is now heated, which makes moving into frying the French Toast a seamless operation. I kind of like the little crusty pieces of the turkey on my toast, but it’s up to you — suit yourself. You can change pans if all of this “cooking in the same pan idea” sounds abhorrent. In a pan, or your favorite iron skillet or griddle, place a little butter and brown the slices on both sides until golden. Note: If you’re cooking for a crowd, put your oven on low and heat the plates you’ll be serving on, as well as keeping the already done slices of French Toast all warm and cozy until they are consumed. I’ve made French Toast for one, and I’ve made French Toast for a dozen people, and it’s pretty easy either way, it just takes a little logistical planning, unless you’re just plating each serving as you go and sending your folks a couple at t time out to the patio to eat on a warm summer morning. OK, now for the fun part. Take a warm plate from the oven, and on it place a serving of turkey cutlet, a slice or two of French Toast. Top the toast with a pat of real butter, a scoop of fresh fruit, a good drizzle of agave, honey or maple syrup (and have more available on the table). Add some fresh grated nutmeg to each plate. It looks great on the edges of the white plate, smells heavenly and tastes fabulous. Add a sprig or a few leaves of mint on top. Serve additional butter and maple syrup on the table. If you’re not used to making this sort of thing, try it just for yourself and get the hang of it. After some practice, you’ll be able to handle a crowd of hungry brunchers at your house!! Onward and upward with Healthy French Toast!
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