Recipe: Apple Cider-Vanilla Bean Granola

My favorite thing to eat for breakfast is really simple actually - berries, a scoop of Sophia's Greek yogurt, and homemade granola. Berries, even when not in season, are my favorite.  I like to equate that to the mindset of the stubborn griller who bundles up and is still throwing steaks on the grill in February, when you really like something, you can't just limit yourself to the appropriate and limited season. My cravings have stronger demands than that. 

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After the berries, comes the yogurt. Sophia's Greek Yogurt is my favorite. Located in Belmont, it's the type of place that feels like a well kept secret. You have to walk all the way to the back of the store and stand under the little blue sign that simple states "yogurt" and wait until someone comes to scoop it out for you. There are four flavors to choose from, fat free plain, 2% plain, fat free honey and fat free honey vanilla. You really can't pick wrong at this point but the vanilla honey and the honey are, in my opinion, where it's at. We always buy two large containers and savor each intensely creamy and sweet drop. We're totally hooked.

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The third and final step to making my perfect breakfast is my homemade granola. Good quality store bought can be fine in a pinch but there is nothing as easy, or more satisfying, than making your own. I try to always have some on hand because not only do I love the crunch and flavor it adds to my morning yogurt, I also love to snack on it. It's also a great blank canvas for flavor and it's easy to just add whatever I have on hand to it. We seemed to have an abundance of apple cider this week and I liked the cider's tart sweetness and thought it would be a great addition. 

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Apple Cider - Vanilla Bean Granola

There’s a lot of room for creativity with this recipe. The nuts can be swapped around to whatever you like best or just have on hand. For a nice textural component, you can also add dried fruit at the very end, once the granola comes out of the oven the last time.

  • 3 cups oats
  • 3/4 walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degres. Lay oats onto a parchment covered baking sheet and bake, checking frequently and stirring around the oats to make sure that they don’t burn. Once the oats are starting to get some color, add the nuts to the oat mixture and continue to toast until both oats and nuts have a golden color. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the apple cider, cinnamon, allspice, olive oil, maple syrup and brown sugar. Stir to combine all ingredients and simmer on low heat until the mixture is warm and the sugar is dissolved. Split the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise and using the tip of the knife, scrape the seeds out of the pod and put them into the pot with the cider mixture. Save the pod to flavor something else or put it into a small jar and cover with sugar to make vanilla sugar for another use. Pour cider mixture over the tasted granola and nuts and stir to combine, making sure that the oats are covered completely by the liquid. Bake for another 10 minutes, stirring halfway in between or until the granola is toasted, golden brown and crunchy. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Enjoy once cooled or put into an air-tight container and eat within two weeks.