When I was planning on what recipe I wanted to post this week, I knew it had to be something warm! My cousins in Boston are freezing. My parents and sisters in New York are freezing. My daughter in Dallas is freezing. I am in LA and when I arrived to teach at someone’s house yesterday morning, we both shivered because it was “freezing” out. Yeah, yeah, I know 59 degrees is not freezing, but it’s all relative. My point is that we’re all feeling chilly! The best way to warm up is with warming foods and drinks and breakfast is a good place to start.
Even though Southern California doesn’t experience really cold temps, I still like to start my day with warm water and lemon and I prefer to leave the cold smoothies to the truly warm (i.e. summer) weather. I am a huge fan of a proper breakfast, especially for the kids. It’s honestly more important to me than what we eat for dinner. Breakfast jump-starts your brain and your metabolism and sets the tone for the day, in more ways than one. So many people tell me they have no time in the morning and that cereal with milk is about all they can manage. I get it. Mornings are tough for me too, especially since I also have to make school lunches and they’re even crazier on days when I have to leave the house at 7:00 am to go to work! My ace in the hole is the do-ahead breakfast. I cannot get enough of recipes that can be assembled the night before and eaten as is or simply baked the next day. This sprouted french toast casserole is just that.
I love using sprouted bread for this because sprouted grains are much better for you than non-sprouted. Simply, they are more digestible and more nutritious. My favorite for this recipe is Food For Life’s sprouted cinnamon raisin bread. It’s naturally sweet and perfect for French toast. My kids don’t love sprouted breads plain or untoasted because they can be a little dry. But here they have no idea since the bread soaks up the almond milk/egg/vanilla mixture and is just like French toast — moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. But you can make this with absolutely any kind of bread you want, including your favorite gluten-free bread, and it would actually be the perfect way to use up different ends of bread you have languishing in the freezer that you know no one is ever going to eat.
Same goes for the fruit. I taught and photographed this a while back in a class that took place when blueberries were in season. You can definitely use frozen blueberries here, but bananas or apples would be fantastic as well.
I always eat this plain, straight up, but my kids love to add a drizzle of maple syrup. I think a dollop of plain yogurt would be delicious, too. However you eat it, this is a well-balanced breakfast with lots of protein, complex carbs and good fats — all the things I’m looking for to start the day. And it’s warm and toasty, too!
- Unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter to grease pan
- 8 slices sprouted bread (thawed if frozen), cut into 1-inch pieces (cinnamon-raisin is a great option), about 6 cups
- 6 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, or chopped pecans
- optional: 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, diced apples or bananas
- accompaniments: pure maple syrup or fruit sauce, sautéed banana or apple slices
- The night before you plan to serve this, grease an 8 x8 or 9 x 9 glass baking dish with a little coconut oil or unsalted butter.
- Place the bread cubes in the baking dish.
- In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the bread cubes, pressing on the bread to make sure it all soaks up the egg mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate the dish overnight.
- The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Scatter the fruit and nuts on top and bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes or until set.
- Serve warm with desired accompaniments.