Lightened Up Berry French Toast Casserole

Lightened Up Berry French Toast Casserole

Made with organic free-range eggs and local honey, this lightened up berry French toast casserole will be your next go-to brunch recipe. Get the recipe now!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Pete and Gerry’s Organic. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal views.

As we transition into May, it’s essential to have some go-to brunch recipes ready. From Mother’s Day to graduation parties and wedding showers, there’s always a need for an easy, crowd-pleaser breakfast dish.

This lightened up baked french toast casserole is an update to a Healthy Toast original recipe, as overtime I’ve found a few tips and tricks for making it the best it can be.

And most of these tweaks have been with regards to being intentionally about the ingredients you choose.

Pouring maple syrup over berry french toast casserole

Lightened Up Berry French Toast Casserole Updates

Let’s start with the bread.

The first time I made this lightened up french toast casserole, I used a loaf of sourdough that had a super thick crust.

While you don’t want to use super soft bread as you’ll just end up with a soggy mess, using a loaf that had that thick of a crust resulted in too many tough bites for my liking.

I’ve been playing around with different breads and finally found the perfect balance with a bakery-style sourdough that had a nice crust but was still fluffy on the inside.

To help it absorb the cinnamon egg mixture just right, I let the loaf sit out on the counter for a day so that it was slightly harder, but not crouton-making tough.

Strawberries, blackberries and honey in a bowl

Next, the honey.

Since it’s the spring, I used a local honey made from wildflowers, which gave the casserole a lovely floral hint. As we discussed in a previous post, I recommend using local honey as it has so much more flavor and extra health benefits.

Finally, the eggs. After all, the key to a great french toast is the egg mixture. And just like honey, the quality of your eggs does make a different in the final flavor and texture of your casserole.

I used Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, as the quality is top-notch. In addition to being free-range, their eggs are certified USDA organic, Certified Humane, non-GMO, and free of antibiotics, added hormones and pesticides. Talk about truly being farm-fresh!

Carton of Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs

Not only are these practices better for the hens themselves, but they’re also beneficial for the environment and our health.

It also doesn’t hurt that the eggs taste better too. Find out more about why choosing organic eggs is important over on Pete and Gerry’s website.

Are eggs healthy to eat?

I’m frequently asked if eggs are a healthy breakfast option. While it can be confusing as new studies seem to continuously contradict one another, I never hesitate to recommend that people incorporate eggs into their weekly routines.

Eggs are a rich source of protein and healthy fats, which together help to keep you full and manage blood sugar levels. They specifically contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for reducing inflammation and play a role in reducing risk of chronic disease.

In addition to these macronutrients, eggs are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including lutein and choline.

In a world where we’re constantly exposed to blue light from screens (think your phone, computer, and TV), lutein is a powerful antioxidant that helps filter out these rays, protecting our retinas and reducing the risk for age-related macular degeneration.

Choline is not often talked about, but it’s extremely important. Found in the yolk of eggs, choline plays an essential role in the regulation of memory and mood and is also needed for DNA synthesis.

Carton of eggs

Eggs Are Healthy Campaign

Despite all these benefits, the FDA currently does not allow eggs to be labeled as “healthy,” yet, fat free chocolate pudding, low fat toaster pastries, and sugary breakfast cereals are all allowed to put the label “healthy” on their products.

This is all despite the fact that more and more studies are coming out showing that excess sugar intake increases our risk for numerous chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and obesity.

Pete and Gerry’s “Eggs Are Healthy” campaign is petitioning the FDA to reconsider standards for “healthy” foods to better reflect the current scientific evidence on the role of various nutrients in our diets. For more information on the campaign, be sure to check out this site.

What You’ll Need to Make this Lightened Up French Toast Casserole

Okay, enough science and back to breakfast! Here’s what you’ll need to make this casserole:

  • Sourdough bread (could also use gluten-free bread)
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Fresh blackberries
  • Local honey
  • Cornstarch
  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Optional: pure maple syrup for serving

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Measure ingredients, slice strawberries and cube bread

Ingredients for lightened up berry French toast casserole

Slice strawberries into quarters and cut bread slices into 1-2”-inch cubes – it doesn’t have to be exact! Measure out remaining ingredients.

Step 2: Prepare berry and egg mixtures

Strawberries and blackberries in a bowl

Place berries and add to a medium-sized mixing bowl.

1/3 cup of honey poured over mixed berries

Pour cornstarch and honey on top, stirring well to coat and then set aside. If your honey is super sticky, I recommend warming it just slightly by placing the jar in a bowl of very warm water.

French toast egg mixture

For the egg mixture, place eggs, milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and whisk well until the eggs are frothy. Set aside.

Step 3: Assemble the casserole and refrigerate

Place about ⅓ of the berry mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Shake the pan to distribute the berries evenly.

Bread cubes in 9x13 pan

Next, place the bread cubes on top of the berries and then pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread.

Egg mixture poured over bread cubes

Finally, scatter the remaining berry mixture evenly on top of the casserole, cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Assembled lightened up berry French toast casserole

Step 4: Bake and serve!

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375oF and remove casserole from fridge while the oven preheats.

Assembled lightened up berry French toast casserole

Bake casserole for 35-45 minutes, or until the egg mixture is set and the top is slightly browned. I know this is a wide range, but depending on the oven I’ve cooked it in, I’ve found this to be a good time range to start checking.

Lightened up berry French toast casserole

Slice into 8 equal pieces and serve with desired toppings (I like Greek yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup!).

Lightened up berry french toast casserole sliced with piece missing

Can You Make Lightened UP French Toast Casserole the night before?

The longer the bread soaks the soggier the bottom will be.

While this isn’t a problem if you’re using a robust, crusty bread, if your sourdough is on the softer, more delicate side then I wouldn’t recommend going much more than 4-6 hours in the fridge.

What will you serve with this Lightened Up Berry French toast casserole?

Bite of lightened up berry french toast casserole with maple syrup

I went with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top and a drizzle of maple syrup, but to make this a more hearty meal, nitrate- and nitrite-free turkey or chicken sausage is an easy way to add an extra boost of protein.

Share how you serve this casserole by tagging @TheHealthyToast_RD on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin this recipe for later!

Slice of lightened up berry French toast casserole with maple syrup

Lightened Up Berry French Toast Casserole

Made with organic free-range eggs and local honey, this lightened up berry French toast casserole will be your next go-to brunch recipe.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Healthy Brunch Recipe, Healthy French Toast Casserole
Servings: 8
Calories: 251kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bakery-style sourdough bread can use gluten-free bread instead
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries rinsed and quartered
  • 6- ounces fresh blackberries rinsed
  • cup local honey
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or milk of choice
  • 6 large organic eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Maple syrup and plain Greek yogurt for topping optional

Instructions

  • Slice strawberries and place in a mixing bowl with blackberries. Add cornstarch and honey and mix well to coat. Set aside.
  • Slice bread into 1-2”-inch cubes and set aside.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon until eggs are frothy. Set aside.
  • Assemble the casserole by placing ⅓ of berries on bottom of pan. Add bread cubes on top and then pour egg mixture evenly over the bread. Finally, scatter remaining berry mixture evenly on top and cover. Place in fridge for at at least 4 hours.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375oF and remove casserole from fridge while it preheats.
  • Bake casserole for 35-45 minutes, or until egg mixture is set and the top of the casserole is lightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting, about 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces and serve with toppings of choice. Enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition for ⅛ of recipe (without toppings): 251 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 37 g carb, 2 g fiber, 15 g sugar, and 10 g protein

More Lightened Up French Toast Casseroles to Try

Lightened up Berry French Toast Casserole Pinterest image
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About
About Kelli McGrane Headshot

I’m Kelli MS, RD, and my mission is to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Follow along to learn more about food and cooking, with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

About Kelli McGrane Headshot

Welcome to The Healthy Toast!

Hi, I’m Kelli McGrane MS, RD! My mission is to show you that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. I believe getting to know your food is the first step to a healthy relationship with it. Follow along in my journey to learn all I can about ingredients and cooking with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

Please contact me at kelli@thehealthytoast.com to request a copy of my resume or media kit, or to inquire about rates and services.

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