Cinnamon Banana French Toast Bake

In middle school, I had an Elmo lunch box.  I wasn’t the only one, though; kiddie characters were all the rage.  Middle schoolers in the 90s were odd like that. We passed notes in friendship notebooks, read YM magazine, wore plastic butterfly hair clips–the glitterier the better–and carried our lunches in children’s fabric lunch boxes.  We were all dressed in clothes from Delia’s and obsessed with BSB or N’Sync.  Above all else, we were all pretty predictable.

And every day that I went to school dressed like Topanga and opened that Elmo case I uncovered the same lunch: peanut butter and banana on cinnamon-swirl bread, an apple, a cookie or two, a drink, and a napkin with a handwritten note from my mom that I tried to hide from my tablemates.  I was a creature of habit; I loved it.  This lunch routine lasted for years–far beyond the coolness faded on my Sesame Street lunch box and Justin Timberlake’s rise to solo stardom took off once he outgrew those blonde tips.  I asked my best friend, Lindsey, just a few weeks ago what I ate for lunch every day growing up.  She recalled it perfectly.  Then, we jammed to “That Boy is Mine” just for old-time’s sake.

When I became pregnant with my second child, Paxton, I seemed to crave all snacks from my childhood: Poptarts, apples with peanut butter, cream cheese on crackers, and, most of all, PB and banana on cinnamon swirl bread.  For the last three years, beyond my pregnancy cravings, I’d continued to indulge on this sandwich and have passed my love for it onto my children.  This combo doesn’t quite fit into my clean-eating goals, though.  I’ve replaced many of the ingredients for healthier alternatives and am just as happy.  I’ll now toast a slice of Ezekiel bread, spread it with all-natural peanut butter or almond butter, and top that with half a banana.  It is a filling and healthful breakfast.

IMG_7053

I woke up this morning, Valentine’s Day, wishing to make a yummy and warm breakfast for my family, but with one problem: I hadn’t planned for this.  I spend Saturday night meal planning and my husband spends Sunday morning at the grocery store, so I woke this morning with only a few fresh ingredients.  That is when the lunch of my youth, my favorite sandwich and now favorite of my kids as well, came to mind.  All week I’ve been researching recipes and ideas for incorporating eggs into my diet–I HATE eggs–and received so many suggestions on my Facebook page that I decided to combine some of these ideas with something I know I love.  Hence, this breakfast was born.

All I had in the freezer was flax seed Ezekiel bread, so that would have to do.  I fit a few whole and a few broken pieces into a heart-shaped pie dish I have had for years and never used, added plenty of banana and cinnamon, and smothered it in scrambled eggs.  The end result was pretty good, but better for the egg lovers in my house than it was for me.  As it sat and settled for a while and the bread became crispier, I discovered that I, too, loved it after I picked off and devoured the entire top layer. Either way–piping hot and out of the oven or after an hour and a little stale–this is one to try on a cold winter morning when you want a taste of home.

INGREDIENTSIMG_7057

  • 6 slices Ezekiel bread, frozen
  • 2 bananas, sliced into coins
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon, divided
  • 4 whole eggs, 4 egg whites, scrambled
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup natural almond butter, warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a pie dish with non-stick cooking spray (I used coconut oil).
  2. Line the dish with three slices of Ezekiel bread, breaking up and fitting together as necessary to cover most of the dish.  (Today, I used flax seed bread, but any kind would work.  Cinnamon raisin would probably be divine.)
  3. Layer bread with banana coins and sprinkle with one tbsp. cinnamon.  Repeat with a second layer of bread and the remainder of the banana and cinnamon.
  4. In a mixing bowl, scramble together the eggs, egg whites, almond milk, and extract. Pour evenly over the bread.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes uncovered and then 15 minutes covered with foil.
  6. Plate individual servings and drizzle with warmed almond butter. Enjoy!

Of course, this is just as yummy with syrup or even drizzled with honey instead. Let me know your favorite egg or French toast recipes below, or how you altered this one to your liking.  I am always looking for new ideas! Feel free to also share your middle school memories.  Those are always fun!

Happy Valentine’s Day! XoXo

 

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