Rise n' Shine with Paula's Lightened Up French Toast

Rise n' Shine with Paula's Lightened Up French Toast

Love her or hate her, there is no denying that Paula Deen has become a food icon. Her easygoing attitude, southern charm,  and penchant for party food have made her recipes a favorite amongst family gatherings across the country. There is also no denying that her recipes have become synonymous with butter, cheese, and sugar....anything excessively calorie-laden. Now that Paula has been diagnosed with diabetes, she will no doubt be practicing a bit more moderation in her slathering of butter and dollops of cream.

I've tried several of Paula's recipes, and have found I can usually get by with about 1/3 to 1/2 of the butter and sugar called for in the recipe and still have it taste good. The following is her Baked French Toast Casserole recipe, modified to be gluten free, dairy free, and a little less calorie-laden than the original. It is easy to prepare, assembled the evening before, and always a hit with overnight guests.  This recipe definitely fits the bill for an indulgent breakfast, but again, everything in moderation.

Paula Deen's Lightened up Gluten Free/Dairy Free French Toast Casserole

6-8 slices of gluten free bread (I find Rudi's multigrain bread works really well in soaking up the liquid ingredients)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups Silk Vanilla Almond Milk
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (McCormick's brand is gluten free)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp Earth Balance Vegetable Shortening (melted)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tsp corn syrup (Karo brand light and dark corn syrups are gluten free)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Spray a 2 quart shallow casserole dish with gluten free cooking spray. Layer bread onto bottom of casserole dish, overlapping slices until all slices are in the dish. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Pour mixture into the casserole dish, being sure to cover the bread slices. Cover dish with foil and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine all topping ingredients and pour over casserole before baking. Bake until casserole is golden and egg mixture has fully cooked through the casserole. Drizzle with pure maple syrup and enjoy!

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