Oct 182015
 

It’s apple week on cook tush! After a big day of apple picking last Saturday, followed by lugging approximately 20 pounds of apples back from Westchester to Manhattan, I had to make good use of our loot. That means I have not one, but TWO apple recipes for you this week. Here’s the first (and don’t tell the other recipe, but my favorite of the two)– Apple Pie French Toast Bake with Almond Crumble. Yes, you can eat this for breakfast. You’re welcome.
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4 things will happen if you make this recipe: 1) you will be shocked by how easy it is, 2) your house will smell like heaven, 3) your family will love you, like a lot, and 4) I forget, I’m too busy eating french toast.
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Something about french toast seems decadent and naughty…the kind of breakfast that leaves you needing a sugar-induced nap about an hour later. But, if you think about it, the staples of french toast are just eggs, bread, and milk. Sure, some people choose white bread, half and half, and add a whole lot of sugar, but in this version I used a multigrain loaf, unsweetened almond milk, and virtually no sugar. Oh, and apples. Lots of apples.
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I used 3 different types of apples just because I had a good variety from my apple picking adventures, and wanted a mix of sweet and tart apple flavor, but you can really use any you have on hand. While the apples are sauteing, you let the bread cubes soak up a mixture of almond milk, egg, cinnamon, vanilla mixture. Then you toss in those tasty apples, top with a little almond-sunflower seed-brown sugar mixture for a crunchy topping, and you wait for the magic to happen.
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Nutrition highlights: There’s absolutely nothing to feel guilty about when it comes to this recipe, and I actually can’t think of a much more balanced breakfast option out there. The combo of hearty multigrain bread, nuts/seeds, eggs, almond milk, and apples provides the perfect mix of complex carbs, fiber, protein, healthy fat, and vitamins to get your day started right and keep you satisfied until lunch. If you can keep your family from devouring the whole thing (good luck), you can also pack it up into tupperware to eat for breakfast throughout the work-week. The only way this recipe can go wrong (or right?) is by covering it in maple syrup, or dare I say, vanilla ice cream. But let the record show I’m not suggesting that. I’m not doing it right now either. Definitely not.
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Apple Pie French Toast Bake with Almond Crumble
Makes about 6-8 servings*
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What’s in it:
For the french toast-
– 1/2 large loaf of multigrain bread, ideally a few days old, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 5 cups cubes)
– 4 large eggs
– 1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk**
– 1 teaspoons cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the apples-
– 3-4 apples, thinly sliced
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon coconut oil
For the topping-
– 1/3 cup roughly chopped raw nuts and seeds (I used almonds and sunflower seeds)
– 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar (depending on your sweetness preference)
– 1/4 teaspoon salt

How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Fill your casserole dish with the cubed bread.
2. Mix the eggs, almond milk, 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla, and 1/4 tspn salt in a bowl. Pour over the bread cubes and toss and press down on the bread cubes with a fork so they soak up all that goodness.
3. While it soaks, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick pan and add your sliced apples. Sprinkle with 1/2 tspn cinnamon and saute for about 5-7 minutes until slightly softened and beginning to caramelize.
4. Add the apples to the casserole dish and toss so they are well distributed throughout the bread cubes. Make sure a few slices end up on top because it looks pretty. If you want, you can also set aside a few of the sauteed apple slices to use as a garnish for serving.
5. Prepare the topping by combining the chopped nuts/seeds of your choosing with the brown sugar and salt. Set aside.
6. Bake the casserole for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle with the nut-brown sugar topping, and bake for an additional 15 minutes (40 minutes total).
7. Serve with a little maple syrup (or vanilla ice cream as a dessert!) and enjoy!

Notes:
*I used a medium sized “gratin” casserole, but you can also double the ingredients and bake it in a 9×13 casserole dish to serve a bigger crowd.
**I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk to keep this dish very low sugar, but if you want it to be slightly sweet, use regular vanilla almond milk or add a few tablespoons of maple syrup to the egg/milk mixture.
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This is the perfect fall breakfast for any day of the week, or to impress guests with. I have a feeling it will be making a day-after-thanksgiving appearance in my house this year!
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Stay tuned later this week for apple picking recipe adventure #2. It’s another healthy one, to make up for all those apple cider donuts we may or may not have had at the orchard.
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