Protein French Toast Recipe
As far back as I can remember, I was never a big breakfast person. Even growing up I was the person who ordered a lunch or dinner entree at IHOP when everyone else was getting their pancake fix. Not exactly sure why, but I have a couple theories:
For one, I was super weird and wouldn’t touch any bottle of syrup besides the old dingy, surely BPA-ridden, plastic bottle my dad had been refilling with his homemade maple syrup for years. The syrup is nothing fancy and takes 5 minutes to make, but it’s wicked sweet and sugary, which is probably why I preferred it to literally every other syrup known to man. I literally put the bottle of syrup in a large Ziploc bag and transported it into my purse for a daddy-daughter date to a fancy shmancy pancake house when I was in college. I remember, because dad thought it was hilarious when I pulled the syrup outta my purse, and joked, “Now what if that had leaked in your bag?”, to which I responded by holding up the Ziploc baggy with a grin.
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It seems silly to tell that story without providing the recipe, yet providing the recipe seems even sillier because it’s ridiculously mundane and is just what is on the bottle of Mapleine Imitation Maple Flavor: Boil 1 cup of water, add 2 cups sugar and ½ tsp Mapleine (we actually doubled the Mapleine amount, though), and stir until fully dissolved. Voila! Now, my dad’s secret ingredient was a shot of vodka to each double-batch, simply to keep it from crystallizing and molding. Hm…maybe that’s why I liked it so much? Anyone remember the Vitameatavegamin episode of I Love Lucy? …classic. Anyway, I do see that frequently purchased along with the Mapleine flavoring on Amazon is zero-calorie Monkfruit sweetener, which I happen to have a bag of sitting in my cabinet as we speak. And I always have Mapleine in the pantry. Perhaps it’s time to give this old-faithful syrup recipe a healthy-twist whirl! Stay tuned.
Back to my theories on why, historically, I always ordered lunch or dinner options rather than breakfast food whenever possible…
Two, as your typical, fast-food loving American, I freaking love French fries. And damn if they don’t come with breakfast food. No, hashbrowns don’t count – not the same thing. French fries do beautifully accompany hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, club sandwiches, French dips, steak, battered fish, etc. I will pass on ordering pasta dishes despite their creamy, delicious nature for the sheer fact they don’t come with a side of fries. I’m aware I could order an ala carte side of fries, but that always seems like overkill. Mexican food is amazeballs, but also rarely comes with fries – Del Taco knows what’s up and geniusly offers tacos AND fries at their establishment. Why more taco joints haven’t followed suit, I’ll never understand. But anyhoo…
So, I’ve never been big on breakfast food. Ron Swanson would not have been proud. In the last few years, however, I have become. I’ve become a breakfast person, that is, and I’m now astonished and ashamed by the low-level of appreciation I used to show breakfast food. I believe having children has encouraged this shift to being a breakfast-lover for a number of reasons:
1) I’m up at the buttcrack of dawn, even on the weekends, because small children – mine are 6 and allllmost 3 now – don’t sleep in. 7 am is now considered “sleeping in,” and it’s a rare occurrence. We’re usually up and at ‘em between 6 and 6:30. So, there’s plenty of time for breakfast and, even if I have the gnarliest of hangovers, I never have the option of sleeping through it. I actually no longer allow myself to get hungover anymore for this very reason.
2) Whenever possible, I delegate playtime to my husband when he’s home and off work. I lost my imagination, creativity, and the desire to possess either of those things years ago. I’d much rather do the dishes, start the laundry, and fix a big breakfast on weekend mornings than be in the playroom entertaining my children. Sorry, not sorry. I’m the planner, organizer, scheduler, maker happener, and doer of all the things. There’s no room in my life for child-level levity.
3) 6 years ago I became a coffee drinker. That timeline happens to line up exactly with the birth of my son – not a coincidence. I haven’t slept in 6 years. I love coffee, I love enjoying it alongside a filling plate of food, and I love that food to be breakfast-y in nature. It just “goes.”
Now, this former non-breakfast-believer fixes herself glorious, healthy, well-balanced breakfasts on weekday mornings (check out my 5-minute, go-to, macro-friendly breakfasts here). Typically on weekdays my husband fends for himself and my kids nosh on things like fruit, sausage, toast, yogurt, frozen waffles or pancakes, and cereal with milk. On weekends I usually spend a little more time and prepare a “fun” breakfast for the whole family.
Sometimes it’s pancakes or waffles, using a regular mix for the kids and a protein pancake/waffle mix for me and my husband. Sometimes it’s scrambled cheesy eggs for the kids and omelettes or eggs benedict for me and my husband. Sometimes it’s canned cinnamon rolls for the kids and breakfast burritos for me and my husband. Just depends. But there’s almost always bacon involved, and plenty of fruit on the side no matter what.
I find myself making different meals, or different versions of the same meals, because I like to “lighten” things up for myself and my husband (mostly myself) whenever and wherever I can. And also because, let’s face it, kids can be picky.
Enter…Protein French Toast.
I can make one big batch of this French toast, using all the same ingredients mixed in just one bowl, and it’s devoured and enjoyed by my kids and us grown-ups, alike. Yay for simple prep, easy clean-up, and yummy food! Not to mention, if I make more than enough for the morning’s meal, it keeps well in the fridge to be enjoyed later in the week for a no-brainer breakfast after a quick zap in the microwave. Perfect.
What you’ll need to make Protein French Toast:
Bread (I LOVE using Nature’s Own Perfectly Crafted Thick-Sliced Brioche Style Bread for mine, but you can use whatever you like that fits your nutritional goals)
Egg Whites (I use cartoned, but you can certainly use whites from the shells)
Skim Milk (or milk of choice)
Protein Powder (I use PEScience in Cake Pop, Gourmet Vanilla, or Snickerdoodle flavors depending on what I have on hand)
Cinnamon &/or Pumpkin Pie Spice (optional, but recommended)
Non-Stick Cooking Spray
Griddle (I like this one because the handles are removable and the griddle part is dishwasher-safe)
Shallow, flat-bottomed dish (This 8×8 glass dish with lid or this pie plate would be perfect for fully submerging and soaking your bread in the egg/milk mixture. A benefit of the lid is having the option to throw in a blender ball or two – like what comes in a blender/shaker bottle – seal the lid closed, and shake the bejeezus out of it to mix everything up and get rid of any clumps. This method may be faster and easier than whisking by hand.)
Handheld Milk Frother (It might sound unexpected, but if you’re not feeling the hand-whisking or the bejeezus-shaking, these babies work like a dream to de-clump protein powder – and hot cocoa powder, too, by the way!)
Food scale (I use this digital, battery-powered scale. It has options to weigh in a number of units and doesn’t require a power outlet. I much prefer weighing my food on a scale versus using measuring cups and spoons for macro-tracking purposes. For example, one scoop of protein powder using the provided scoop can be way off from what the label says is 1 scoop or serving. A scale takes the guesswork out of if the scoop should be packed, level, rounded, loosely filled, etc. I like to know I’m getting exactly, or at least as close as I can get, to what I’m logging in MyFitnessPal.)
Related: 11 Fitness Essentials to Kickstart Your New Year’s Resolutions – Found on Amazon!
What Bread Works Best for Protein French Toast?
I’m on team thicc and fluffy, so I like using a softer, thick-sliced loaf. As mentioned above, I love Nature’s Own Brioche Style bread. The texture is great, it’s sturdy enough to soak up a lot of the egg/milk mixture, and it has a nice lil sweetness to it. Macros are good at 110 calories, 1.5g fat, 21g carbohydrate, and 4g protein per slice. Sara Lee’s Artesano Original, Golden Wheat, and Brioche loaves are all perfect for this recipe, as well, and have similar macros to the Nature’s Own Brioche.
I have used the 45-calorie multi-grain bread in the past, and while it does work (I mean, it’s hard to screw up French toast, people), I prefer the big, fluffy brioche. The multi-grain and 100% whole wheat stuff sounds good and healthy and all, but they add a certain…something…to French toast, and not in a good way. The gritty texture and mix of hearty and sweet just don’t mix, in my opinion.
If you don’t have the calories to spare, or just don’t wanna spend them unnecessarily first thing in the morning, you can definitely use a typical 60-80 cal per slice bread. Nature’s Own Butterbread (no, I’m not sponsored by Nature’s Own, I just like their bread. lol) has a great taste and texture – it’s just on the thinner side compared to say, the brioche. The thinner the bread, the more likely it can rip under the weight of the egg/milk mixture. But on the plus side of thinner slices, you typically get more servings per recipe with fewer calories per serving (less batter gets soaked up into each slice, and the bread itself is lower calorie).
Walmart’s Great Value, Sara Lee’s, and Wonder’s Texas Toast bread loaves are only 80-100 calories per slice with comparable macros (approximately 16c/1f/3p each) and are nice and thick. I personally don’t keep Texas Toast on hand, however, as I use Nature’s Own brioche for everyday meals and snacks outside of French Toast.
Dave’s Killer Bread has decent macros, although for the price I don’t see how it’s “better” than any others I’ve mentioned. There might be an extra gram of protein per slice, but with all the grains and seeds littered all over that shit I don’t think it would be an enjoyable French toast experience. Maybe the White Bread Done Right variety would be acceptable. Maybe.
Just don’t go on buying any bread to make your French toast without scanning that label first, yo! For example, the Trader Joe’s French Brioche is 170 calories and 24c/7f/4p per slice – for a 2 slice serving that tacks on an extra 120 calories and 11 grams of fat vs the Nature’s Own Brioche. I would venture to say King’s Hawaiian sliced bread would make a mean French toast, with that delectable sweetness already baked in, however!!, it is higher in calories and fat, so keep an eye on your nutrition facts, as it all adds up. Some days it’s worth the splurge, but some days it’s not. That’s your call.
Related: Why I Eat a Low-Fat Diet
Note that some labels list the nutritional info per 1 slice of bread, whereas others list it for 2 slices. Some have the same calorie count, but there’s a 1-5 grams of fat per slice difference. Doesn’t seem like much, but when you’re a die-hard macro-tracker like myself this is the kind of stuff you pay attention to.
Related: I Started Tracking Macros at My “Happy” Weight, and Here’s What Happened
How to Make Protein French Toast
- Weigh your French toast batter ingredients (everything but the bread), and whisk them together by hand or use a handheld milk frother to combine until smooth.
- Pour the batter into a shallow, flat-bottomed dish. This makes coating the bread with the batter a breeze.
- Preheat your griddle to a Medium heat (300-375F), and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Soak each slice of bread in the French toast batter for about 15-20 seconds per side, let the excess batter drop off, then add the soaked slice to the preheated griddle.
- Cook each slice until golden, about 1 minute per side, watching closely to avoid burning.
- Keep warm on a microwave safe plate on the “warm” setting in the microwave if you have one, or on a baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven.
How to Store Leftover Protein French Toast
Keep leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. To freeze, cool French toast completely, separate slices with parchment paper and store in freezer bags in the freezer for up to 2 months.
How To Reheat Protein French Toast
Protein French toast can be reheated a few different ways:
- Toast in a toaster (this one even has a defrost setting iof your French toast was stored frozen, and a warming rack) or toaster oven.
- Reheat on a baking sheet in a 300F oven for 5-7 minutes, or
- Microwave for 45-60 seconds on 70-100% power depending on your microwave
What Toppings to Put on Protein French Toast
This is where you can be as boring and conventional, or as creative and fancy as you want – just be sure whatever you choose aligns with your nutritional goals or this is all a moot point. The goal here is a low-cal, high-protein breakfast.
Personally, I like to cut my slices into triangles and fan them out so they look extra fancy prior to topping. I generally reach for the 0-calorie spray butter and Walden Farms 0-calorie pancake syrup, but with only 285 calories and 20 grams of protein per 2-slice serving, you can probably afford to dress ‘em up a bit and/or add a side of bacon or sausage.
Other topping options include:
- Powdered sugar
- Maple or other flavored syrups (regular, calorie-free, or sugar-free)
- Fresh or frozen berries (either cold and whole, or warmed and mashed)
- Lite whipped topping (I like pairing this one with Walden Farms 0-calorie chocolate &/or caramel syrups)
- PB2 Peanut Butter Protein Powder (prepared by mixing with water to desired consistency. Regular or with cocoa are both good – regular has slightly more protein.)
- Nonfat Greek yogurt, plain or flavored
- Nut Butter, Nutella, or Cookie Butter (if you wanna spend some serious fat and calories! But, a little can go a long way. Just watch your portion size and use a food scale 😉)
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Protein French Toast
- Electric Griddle
- Handheld Milk Frother (or whisk)
- Shallow, Flat-Bottomed Baking Dish
- Food Scale
- 200 grams Liquid Egg Whites from Carton (or the whites separated from 6-7 whole eggs)
- 1/2 cup Skim, Non-fat Milk (or milk of choice)
- 31 grams PEScience Protein Powder (31g = ~1 scoop. Gourmet Vanilla, Snickerdoodle, or Cake Pop flavors are all great for this recipe. Feel free to use the protein powder you have on hand, but PEScience is the best!)
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice (optional, but recommended. More or less to taste)
- 8 slices Nature's Own Brioche-Style Bread (or bread of choice)
- Mix together egg whites, milk, protein powder, and spices until smooth, either by whisking by hand or using a handheld milk frother
- Heat griddle to Medium heat (~350F) and spray with cooking spray
- Soak each slice of bread in egg/milk mixture for 15-20 seconds per side
- Cook each slice of soaked bread on the pre-heated griddle until golden, about 1 minute per side
- Top with desired toppings