Crunchy Baked French Toast Sticks are a deliciously nostalgic treat made healthier at home, but with the same sweet crunchy exterior and soft bready inside! Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and dip into some syrup for a seriously delectable breakfast!
Freezer aisle battle
One way my cravings seriously get to me is through nostalgic memories. I think I’ve talked on here before about what the freezer aisle does to me. And if you haven’t read that post, I'll fill you in. Basically, because I’m a ‘90s kid who grew up when preservatives, instant, fast-food, MSG, and the like, were all the rage, I had a serious love for all things in the freezer aisle. I.e.: hot pockets, toaster strudels, bagel bites, and I can keep going. The urge to eat these things is strong.
But why? Obviously one reason is that they are loaded with things that make you want them. Like all processed foods, when you eat them, you’re going up against people who have sat in a room brainstorming and thinking of ways to make the food you’re eating as delicious and addicting as possible. ($$) Think: Doritos, Oreos, Cheez-its. Just to name a few of my favorites. These are going to taste AMAZING every single time. The thing is though, what human being possesses the strength to moderately eat a few Dorito chips? Not I. Compare the flavor surge you get when you eat say an Oreo vs. a strawberry. With the Oreos, my brain goes haywire and wants 20 more. Strawberries, however, are delicious, but I certainly don’t need 20 to feel satisfied.
And when you think about it this way, it’s easy to realize that not being able to stop after 5 or 10 Oreos is not your fault and it has no inclination as to your self-control for eating. This is a slippery slope though. It kind of looks like this: eat foods that taste good, lack control to stop eating said foods, feel bad and guilty for lack of self-control, keep eating deliciously produced foods.
processed foods & balance
This is not to say that you shouldn’t eat foods that are made to make you eat them all in one sitting. I have a box of Cheez-its in my snack cabinet right now. However, what this does mean, is that when you buy these foods you should be aware of how much work has gone into making this product taste awesome – and with that information know what challenge you’re putting yourself up against. If you want to go up for the challenge, go right ahead.
I know, that influence of nostalgia for a favorite snack is a big one too. but in doing so, make sure you know that you are going in for a challenge. AND most importantly, when it gets to the point of it being very hard to stop eating, know that this is NOT your fault and it has NO bearing on your own self-control. With this mindset, we eliminate the possibility of exasperating a treat into an eating binge, guilty feelings, etc.
One way to avoid the vicious cycle above, but still have the tasty flavors we so want and know from processed foods is to recreate them ourselves! That’s how this Crunchy Baked French Toast Sticks recipe came to be. I walked down the freezer aisle, had a wave of nostalgia hit me, and had a BIG craving for frozen French toast sticks. As kids, we used to eat them all the time for breakfast. My brother even as a toddler used to eat them straight frozen…I’m not really sure about that one, but it kept him quiet ????
As for me, I was always after that crunchy sweet outside coating, soft bready inside, and dunking it right in some syrup. Albeit, I didn’t want to start buying frozen foods again. It feels like a slippery slope to me – because I know how much work has been put into making it taste SoOoOo GREAT. So, I figured hey, I bet we can just recreate these! And voila – I did some research and testing and thanks to a recipe by Ree Drummond, I had my homemade French Toast Sticks once again sans guilt and addiction. In fact, you can have 6 of these babies for 375 calories (not counting you dousing them in syrup hehe). And if you’ve never had French Toast Sticks I hope my inner 10 year old just convinced you they're awesome and worth a try!
Comment below if you have a deep nostalgic obsession with any processed foods that you would love to know how to recreate!
Crunchy Baked French Toast Sticks
- 12 slices of thick sliced white bread
- 6 eggs
- ½ cup half and half
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 cups cap’n crunch cereal crushed into fine crumbs
- 4 tablespoons butter melted
- Powdered sugar maple syrup, fruit – etc for serving
With a serrated knife, cut bread into 3 strips. You can stack and batch cut them – I also cut the ends off.
Crack eggs into a shallow bowl. Add the half and half, vanilla extract, ½ of the cinnamon and whisk it all together.
In another shallow bowl, mix together the sugar, panko, crushed cereal, and remaining ½ of the cinnamon. Stir in the melted butter with a fork until crumbs form and are slightly moist.
Coat each bread strip in the egg wash and then gently transfer to the breadcrumbs and turn to fully cover. Press in the crumbs if you need to so the surface is fully covered!
Rest the sticks on a baking rack set inside a baking sheet. Freeze the tray for 30 minutes so the crumbs set.
If cooking right away, bake them at 375 for 18-20 minutes. If freezing, put parchment paper between the sticks and store in a freezer bag. To cook from frozen, bake for 18-20 at 375 or as high as 425 for a crunchier texture.
Serve with syrup, fruit, or sprinkled powdered sugar!
Adapted from "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!: Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives" by Ree Drummond