Brunch poses two dilemmas for me: First, because of its timing (combination of two meals), I can overeat pretty easily, particularly when there’s a cornucopia of baked goods, fruits, eggs, etc.; second, I’m almost always torn between a sweet and starchy choice (like pancakes) and a salty, protein-heavy option (like a frittata). French toast can serve as the happy medium between these two extremes—when used as the bread for a croque monsieur (use low-fat cheese and Canadian bacon for a lighter sandwich) or eaten sans syrup. When made at home, French toast can be a great way to refuel after a workout or long run, as it restocks glycogen stores and provides protein for muscle repair.
8 slices whole grain or whole-wheat bread
3 eggs—use two whole eggs and one egg white
2 tablespoons regular or low-fat milk (soy, almond, hemp or coconut milks work well here, too)
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
Grapeseed or canola oil for frying
Maple syrup or agave nectar for serving
Turn oven on to low (about 200 degrees F) and put a heat-safe plate inside. This will keep all toast warm while you’re cooking.
In a shallow dish (a casserole dish works well here), whisk together eggs until combined. Add milk, orange juice and zest, vanilla extract, salt and spices. Whisk until just combined. Soak bread inside dish, flipping slices on other side to coat.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add about 1 teaspoon of oil. Fry 2-3 pieces of toast at once, depending on how large your skillet is, for 4-5 minutes per side or until the side touching the pan is golden brown. Flip over and brown on the other side. Transfer cooked slices to plate in oven. Note that as your skillet and oil heat up, the pan will retain more heat; take care not to burn the toast.
Sprinkle with a few pinches of powdered sugar, if desired. Serve with syrup of your choice and fresh berries.