Start the day off right with a side of sweet fun in the form of French Toast Soldiers from recipe book Cooking Light Real Family Food. This version of the popular brunch choice can be made in under 20 minutes. Amp up the health factor with gluten-free, whole wheat or sprouted wheat breads and serve the syrup in a small dipping dish for portion control.

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 18 minutes

Ingredients: 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
6 (1.35-ounce) slices Italian bread,
halved lengthwise
Cooking spray
1⁄4 cup maple syrup
1 cup hulled strawberries
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
(optional)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 250°. Place a baking sheet in oven.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk; whisk until well blended. Working in batches, dip bread strips in milk mixture, turning gently to coat both sides.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 6 coated bread strips to pan; sauté 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Place on preheated pan in oven to keep warm. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining bread strips.

4. Place syrup and strawberries in a food processor; process until smooth. Serve with
French toast strips. Sprinkle each serving with powdered sugar, if desired. Serves 6
(serving size: 2 strips and 2 tablespoons syrup)

Nutritional Information: CALORIES 207; FAT 3.8g (sat 1.4g, mono 1.2g, poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 8.7g; CARB 34.5g; FIBER 1.5g; CHOL 100mg; IRON 2.1g; SODIUM 337mg; CALC 86mg

Amanda Haas is an award-winning cookbook writer, professional recipe developer, and founder of One Family One Meal. She is the test kitchen manager at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. and has contributed to more than a dozen cookbooks. Most recently, Haas was recognized in MAKERS: Women Who Make America, a digital video and broadcast initiative produced by AOL in partnership with PBS that celebrates women who inspire change in the way we live. Haas lives near San Francisco with her husband and two sons.