For years I used to have whole grain cereal with soy milk and mixed berries for breakfast. It was pretty good as breakfasts go – fiber, protein, lots of antioxidants from the berries, pretty low-glycemic too (i.e. it kept blood sugar levels nice and steady, much better than a more sugary cereal or toast with jam which cause a burst of insulin release). Recently though, after attending a conference by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, I’ve decided to eat more of a “Paleo” type diet and eliminated most grains – including the cereal I’d loved for years – from my diet. This was huge!
I’m going to write more about my experience with this Paleo diet in another post (you’ve probably heard of it, it’s a way of eating built primarily around healthy protein sources, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit).
Clearly French Toast isn’t exactly a Paleo-type breakfast, as it’s build around a bread, but I’ve deliberately kept rice in my diet as a non-fruit source of carbohydrate. At the Anti-Aging conference they frequently mentioned the benefits of following a Paleo diet, yet they cautioned that people with adrenal fatigue (people who have or have had chronically high stress levels) need to be cautious about severely lowering their carbohydrate intake. Since I work pretty hard, even though I take a lot of breaks and vacations, and have been through the insane military-like experience of med school and residency, I took this warning personally. I also know from very brief experiences in the past with low-carb diets that I got really cranky.
So, since rice is generally not allergenic and is gluten-free (I have been avoiding gluten for almost 20 years, more on that later too), it’s my go-to grain to keep me sane.
Before I get to the recipe, a little bit more about breakfast. This is something I very often work on with coaching clients, some who skip it and many who just do the coffee and muffin or bagel thing. The most important thing is to eat breakfast, period. People who eat breakfast (and it should be before 10 am), lose weight more successfully, keep the weight off, and perform dramatically better on exams than those who skip it. So, if you don’t eat breakfast, start – whatever it takes to get you into the habit.
If you’re already eating breakfast, make sure you’ve got a source of protein in it, as protein makes you more alert and helps you concentrate. Protein and fat together also help balance the carbs, to prevent an unhealthy, aging spike in blood sugar and insulin. You also want some fruit or vegetable in there, for the antioxidants, fiber and so that you get a head start on the 5-10 servings you want to get in throughout your day (a green smoothie is a great and yummy way to do this – see my Easy Peasy Green Smoothie Recipe ).
So without further ado, on to the French Toast! I generally refuse to eat things unless they’re yummy, and I have a really sweet tooth. I love comfort foods, and unless I have things I like in whatever healthy eating strategy I adopt, it’s not going to last. I find this nice and sweet though it’s essentially free of added sugar (the rice bread has a teeny amount of cane juice in it, but not enough to worry about, I refuse to be that fanatical)
I created this French Toast recipe around my favorite gluten-free brown rice bread (this bread has saved my life and my sanity, it’s SO good, I keep it in the freezer and defrost in the microwave). I raise the protein level in one of two ways, either by adding an extra egg white, or by making the “milk” out of brown rice protein powder and water, which works really well. The cinnamon, in addition to adding rich flavour comes with an added bonus of antioxidants and potentially helping balance your blood sugar. Finally, the berries add the perfect amount of low-glycemic sweetness and colour, and lots of fiber and more antioxidants.
The following recipe uses four slices, enough for two bird-like breakfasters and one serving for people who love to eat like me!
Dr. Susan’s Gluten-free Sugar-free Dairy-free High-Protein French Toast
4 slices Udi’s Whole Grain Rice Bread
1 egg (preferably omega-3 rich and free of antibiotics and animal by-products) +/- an optional additional egg white
1/3 cup sugar-free rice milk (or sugar-free Brown Rice Protein Powder – mine comes sweetened with Stevia and has some natural caramel flavour – mixed into 1/3 cup water)
Generous dash of cinnamon
1 cup (or much more) of frozen or fresh berries
½ or 1 tsp non-dairy spread (I love Earth Balance & use their soy-free version)
Heat non-dairy spread in a frying pan on low-med heat (I use a non-stick frying pan but still use this in addition as otherwise the coating on the bread sometimes sticks); as it melts lift and tilt the pan so that the majority of the pan surface is covered with it. Whisk together the egg, rice milk or rice protein water, and a generous amount of cinnamon. Dip the bread pieces one by one in the mixture (I defrost the 4 pieces in the microwave for 45 seconds so that they’re nice and soft and a little warm), turning them over a couple of times and really soaking them before placing them in the pan. Pour any leftover mixture over the bread in the pan. Once one side has browned, flip and brown the other side (DO NOT CHECK EMAIL WHILE DOING THIS, YOU WILL REGRET IT!)
Meanwhile, if using frozen berries defrost them in the microwave long enough for them to release some of their juice. Alternatively, you can heat frozen or fresh berries with a little water in a pan on the stove over low heat, stirring well as you do, to make a simple sweet berry sauce – you seriously don’t need to add sugar or cornstarch, just the heat and stirring alone make the sauce sweet and delicious. Once your toast is done, place them on a plate and pour the berries or berry sauce over.
Yum yum yum!! I will even have this for dinner sometimes if I’ve had a particularly long day.
Now it’s your turn – do you have any great simple recipes to share with us?