Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble

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A healthy twist on the dessert crumble, this Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble is nutritious enough for breakfast but indulgent enough for dinner.

Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble

I knew this was going to be a tough post to write when I spent over an hour debating on just the title. It went a little something like this: Is this recipe a cobbler or crisp? What even is the difference between a cobbler and a crisp? Is Huffington Post an accurate source for telling me what to name my recipe? Well, if it is an accurate source then neither of these names are correct. According to the good old Huff’ Post, a cobbler must have individually dropped biscuits while a crumble is a fruit based dessert topped with an oat mixture and a crisp is similar to a crumble but won’t have any oats involved (Did you get all that?). Huh, who would have known? Do you believe them? Yeah, I don’t know if I do either but I also don’t have the answer so we are sticking with it.

Well, now that we are talking about the title of this post, why not keep going? What else were we even going to chat about today? I can’t seem to remember anymore either. You are wondering what makes this a breakfast recipe? Cool. Let’s chat about that.

Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble

Breakfast, for me, is a pretty routined affair. During the week I eat granola/yougurt or oatmeal and during the weekends it’s usually biscuits & gravy (per the boyfriend’s request). That’s it. And maybe a boiled egg or banana mixed in there every once and awhile for variety. So why, you ask, did I make this breakfast cobbler (whoops – I mean ‘crumble’)? Well, it wasn’t really intended to be a breakfast thing at all. I’ve been trying to incorporate more whole foods into my diet and fruit has been a particularly challenging one. Every time I eat an apple or orange or any fruit really, it reminds me of apple dumplings or crumb cake or cobbler. My body has obviously been neglecting fruit in its original state because all fruit triggers a craving for some sort of baked good.

So my desire for fruity baked goods grew every time I enjoyed another apple for a snack or a banana as a post-lunch dessert. The desire grew and grew until I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I didn’t want to shatter all this healthy whole food eating with a thick sugary dessert so I set out to make a ‘healthified’ version. One that could be made almost completely out of unrefined sugar and loaded with tons of oat fiber and fruit nutrients.

This crumble was the outcome. It doesn’t have the gooey inside consistency that most traditional crumbles have but it’s still packed full of just as much flavor while leaving you feeling lighter than any traditional recipe. To compensate for the lack of gooeyness, I mixed in part of the oat mixture with the apples to create a creamy oatmeal consistency while still topping the cobbler with the rest for a crispy oat outer layer.

Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble

Instead of ice cream, I served it with greek yogurt and maple syrup which triggered the breakfast theme. We ate it for dessert this weekend and then I couldn’t resist not devouring it for breakfast the next few mornings in a row. But really when you think about all the calcium, protein, fiber, and other wonderful nutrient benefits from this dish – how could you really feel guilty about eating it for breakfast anyways?

Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble


PS – If you don’t follow VV on Facebook then you may have missed the exciting news that I was featured on Food & Wine last week! Click here to check it out!

Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble recipe below:

Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble

Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble
A healthy twist on the dessert crumble, this Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble is nutritious enough for breakfast but indulgent enough for dinner.
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Author: Shelly Westerhausen
  • 5 apples , cored & cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 1 orange (2 Tablespoons juice from an orange + zest from an entire orange)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat or white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a 2-quart baking dish. Stir together the apples, orange juice, zest, maple syrup, cornstarch, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish and set aside.
  2. Mix together the oats, flour, salt, spices, and brown sugar. Blend the butter into the mixture using your fingertips. Mix 1/3 of this oat mixture into the apple mix. Scatter the rest of the oat mixture over the top. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is crisped and the insides begin to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool slight.
  3. Serve with greek yogurt, orange slices, and maple syrup.


Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble






  • Sandra
    January 27, 2014

    …cobbler or crumble it looks and sound delicious either way! And congrats on the food & wine feature 🙂

    • Shellywest
      January 29, 2014

      Yay – thank you, Sandra!!

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    January 27, 2014

    Your breakfast routines sound mighty delicious to me! And this recipe is FAB.

  • Harriet
    January 27, 2014

    Dessert for breakfast (especially when it’s so heavily fruit based) is totally justifiable and awesome! Hit me with your breakfast crumble! (Also – chai-spiced all the things, right?)

    • Shellywest
      January 29, 2014

      Oh my goodness – right. I seriously would make chai-spiced breakfast, lunch, and dinner if it wasn’t totally weird to mix sweet with savory in that way.

  • maria | pink patisserie
    January 28, 2014

    I have always wondered about the crumble/cobbler thing! Thanks for enlightening me! This looks damn gorgeous, and again congrats on the Food and Wine props. So well deserved!!

    • Shellywest
      maria | pink patisserie
      January 29, 2014

      Eeee- thank you! Also, I completely just thought crumble/cobbler/crisp could be used interchangeable and they were all different words for the same thing. Glad that I was able to clear that up for us!

  • Alanna
    January 29, 2014

    Yes! I love crumble for breakfast with yogurt. The chai spices here sound absolutely superb. Thank you for sharing! And many congratulations on being featured on Food & Wine – that’s so exciting!!

  • Gabby @ the veggie nook
    January 30, 2014

    I don’t care what you call this- because I have a ton of apples and an orange that are begging to be made into this 🙂

  • Sylvie@GitK
    January 30, 2014

    I saw about the Food & Wine feature! Congrats, that’s really exciting!

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  • Shalene
    June 8, 2014

    Shelly, I saw your citrus image on Pinterest and am using it as inspiration for a handmade weaving I am creating. The beautiful colors and composition inspired me to make one based on that. I’ll show you the finished product when I’m done! 🙂

    • Shellywest
      June 8, 2014

      That is wonderful! Please please please send me a picture of the finished weaving, Shalene!!

      • Shalene
        June 9, 2014

        I will do!!

      • Shalene
        June 16, 2014

        Hi Shelly, sent it to your email! 🙂

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