While my brother and I grew up, Mom partially put her science career on hold to pick us up from school and be home in the afternoons while we scribbled away at our spelling and arithmetic homework at the kitchen table, offering us help when we got stuck. Between her research, publications, and chasing around us little munchkins, she rarely retained enough energy to cook an elaborate meal when the evening rolled around. She usually turned to easy dishes like plain pasta, grilled cheese, quesadillas, and our personal favorite…
Breakfast for dinner!
Most of the time, we cajoled her into making Mickey Mouse Pancakes. Our favorite restaurant, Hobees, always shaped their kid’s menu ones like that, complete with a fruit, chocolate chip, and whipped cream face. Although we agreed should could skip the extra steps for the eyes, nose, and mouth, we still requested that special batter shape.
Sometimes we’d clamber up into the regular kitchen chairs to eat, but other times, we’d camp out on beach towels—in case we spilled—on the family room carpet, mesmerized by the Arthur or Dragon Tales shows on TV as we chewed. We always doused our dinner in plenty of maple syrup, like Buddy from the movie “Elf,” although we kids ate the fake stuff (we’d go broke if Mom handed over the real deal with how much we used!). Often she’d still let us finish off the night with a chocolate cupcake or cookie before heading off to the bathtub and bed.
But now, my body cringes at the thought of consuming all of that sugar in one sitting. It might be easier with the metabolism of a 6-year-old, but still… My stomach cramps just imagining it all! Lately I’ve been craving healthier, more natural breakfast meals with less maple syrup and more fruit or toast, and the swirling tornado of thoughts in my brain added chocolate to the mix, which resulted in…
Open-Faced Chocolate Banana French Toast Sandwiches. It’s quite a mouthful to say, but an even tastier one to eat! Made with entirely wholesome clean-eating friendly ingredients, these cozy sandwiches came together in mere minutes, and they’re completely customizable. Just slice up whatever fruit sits in your fridge—strawberries, raspberries, or even apples and oranges!
Let’s start with the French toast. I almost always forget to set out the bread the night before to stale, so instead, I pop my too-soft whole wheat slices into the toaster oven for a minute in the morning. This little trick dries them out so they’ll absorb more of the egg mixture!
I always add a touch of vanilla and cinnamon to my egg mixture. These two ingredients help bring out the sweet nuttiness of the whole wheat flour, and sometimes I’ll add a tiny pinch of nutmeg too. Whisk all of that together in a disposable metal pie pan; the wide, flat bottom allows the bread to lay completely flat and speeds up its absorption of the egg mixture.
Although I normally prefer softer slices of French toast, I actually popped these back into the toaster oven for another minute after cooking them in the pan. As the base of my open-faced sandwiches, I didn’t want my French toast to turn out too floppy! If eating with a fork and knife instead, you can completely skip this step.
The chocolate sauce is super easy too. You only need 3 ingredients: Greek yogurt, cocoa powder, and sweetener. Thick, creamy, and packed with protein, Greek yogurt is one of my favorite powerhouses in healthier baking—and breakfasts too. The cocoa powder tends to clump when you add it to the yogurt, so really put some muscle into stirring!
Adjust the sweetener to suit your tastes. I prefer dark chocolate, so as written, this recipe is ever so slightly on the bitter side. Add a little extra sweetener for a milkier taste.
To assemble, spread on as much—or as little—chocolate sauce as you’d like on the beautifully browned French toast, and add as many sliced bananas as you can fit. (I definitely added more after snapping these photos!) Then plate, eat and enjoy!
With their lightly spiced base, rich chocolate sauce, and naturally sweet fruit, even breakfast-haters will adore these healthy Open-Faced Chocolate Banana French Toast Sandwiches! My guy, who normally avoids breakfasts unless forced, and even then only nibbles at eggs, bacon or other savory stuff, followed his nose into the kitchen as the aroma of my French toast wafted through the house.
“Umm… That French toast smelled good…” he sheepishly confessed, and I smiled while offering him a bite.
Maybe every day should be a breakfast-for-dinner night!