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Mix ahead, then bake as you sip your coffee. / Renee Comet/USA WEEKEND

Easy do-ahead ideas for healthy weekend meals

Grilled vegetables. Grill up zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, onion, fennel and asparagus. Eat as a side dish. Or dice and toss in salads. Or layer on sandwiches.

Chicken breast/rotisserie chicken. Cook a few pounds of chicken breast or buy a couple of rotisserie chickens. Slice and use atop greens for a one-plate meal. Or chop and make chicken salad sandwiches. Or simply serve as part of a buffet.

Pasta salad. Make a big pasta salad full of summer vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, corn, sweet onion and zucchini; then add beans and mozzarella chunks. Serve as a side or a main.

Note: Each will keep in the fridge for three days.

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This hearty, homey breakfast is ideal for relaxed summer weekends, especially when you have guests and you want something special but donít care to spend the morning at the stove.

Whip this up the night before and, while you sleep, the bread absorbs the vanilla-laced egg mixture, and all the warm, sweet flavors meld together.

In the morning, simply put it in the oven, allowing the bread to become golden and puffed and the peaches to caramelize.

Itís a satisfying, balanced breakfast with whole grain, fruit, and protein from eggs and low-fat milk. Plus, thereís no grease or mess from frying as you would have with typical French toast, so you are free to sit back and enjoy the morning coffee and conversation.

Recipe: Warm Peach French Toast Bake

• Cooking spray
• 1 large whole-wheat baguette (about 8 ounces)
• 4 large eggs
• 4 large egg whites
• 1 cup non-fat milk
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 5 cups fresh sliced peaches (or frozen unsweetened peaches, thawed)
• 2 Tbs. firmly packed brown sugar
• ľ tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1Ĺ cups plain non-fat yogurt (optional)
• ĺ cup pure maple syrup (optional)

Coat a 9- x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Cut the baguette into half-inch-thick slices and arrange them in a single layer in the pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg whites, milk and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture over the bread in the pan. Scatter the peach slices evenly over the bread. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Uncover and bake until slightly puffed and the bread is golden brown, about 40 minutes. If desired, top with yogurt and drizzle with maple syrup.

Yield: 6 servings

Per serving: 254 calories, 40g carbohydrates, 12.5g protein, 6g fat (1.6g saturated), 5g fiber, 144mg cholesterol, 288mg sodium

Contributing editor and registered dietitian Ellie Krieger is host of Food Networkís Healthy Appetite, which airs on the Cooking Channel. Her most recent cookbook is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy.

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