Chocolate Granola with Dried Cherries, Almonds and Coconut | Burning Down The Kitchen with Javelin Warrior

Chocolate Granola by Cravings of a Lunatic

I can explain!

Really I can.

Okay that is never a good start to a blog post.

I got a little carried away. I think I was overly hungry and it just got a little crazy in the kitchen. It started off as a healthy granola…

then spiralled out of control.

I feel the  need to apologize to Mark at this point.

Dude you made this really awesome low sugar granola and I came in and turned it into candy. I’m sorry. But…

you must have seen it coming.

I mean there were signs. You read my blog, you knew the risks. I tend to candy up most recipes. I just can’t seem to stop myself.

I’m sorry. It just sort of happened. Some cocoa slipped in, then the brown sugar got jealous. Next thing I knew my hand accidentally dropped in twice the recommended honey. It was out of my control. I think my kitchen has been possessed by demons.

What?

It could happen!

Just ask James Franco. 

For those wanting a healthy granola recipe you must visit Mark’s site, Javelin Warrior. The dude is awesome and he rocked out this amazing Low Sugar Cinnamon Cranberry Granola that will knock your socks off.

I have the distinct pleasure of sharing my interview with Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ w/Luv with you today. If you are not reading his blog, well, you don’t get any granola, I don’t share with peeps who aren’t reading his blog.

Mark is a wickedly talented writer, and he cooks up amazing dishes filled with love and honesty. I dig the way he writes. He really gets into the hows and whys of recipes. He gives lots of tips and does step by step photos which is impressive. Those who don’t blog, let me just say people who do step by step photos have some serious multi-tasking skills. I can barely remember to take photos after the dish is made. I aspire to do step by step photos.

Mark’s spirit and zest for life is what draws you into reading on a continual basis. There’s a lot of food blogs out there so having a unique and distinct voice is paramount when blogging. You have to be yourself, and I feel like Mark does that. He sends off such a genuine vibe and you feel like you know him. I don’t know about you folks, but I read blogs that make me feel like I could hang with the person writing. Like I could show up in their kitchen for the first time and they would make me feel at home and comfortable. That’s how I feel when I read Mark’s site.

I really enjoyed getting to know him better, and I just know you will too.

1. How did you get started blogging?

I’ve been blogging for a long time. I started out on Xanga years ago, mostly as an outlet for my personal life, kind of like spewing into the great void of the internet universe. Then I got sick of that and abandoned it, only to discover in 2010 that it really helped me to have a blog. So I started up another private blog, more spewing :/ My cooking blog I finally started in early 2010 and while it’s mostly filled with food, I really started it to talk about love and the connection between love and food (and our relationships).

2. What’s your absolute favourite part of it?

I love helping people. I really want to be able to share what I’ve learned, both about food and love, in the hopes that somehow it might be useful or helpful to someone else (in their kitchen or in their lives). If I had to pick one aspect of food blogging that I love the most, it would have to be sharing among those in the community. I haven’t met any food bloggers in person, yet I really have a sense of community with so many of them…

3. Are there any downsides to it?

Keeping up! No matter how hard I work or how many hours I devote to my blog, there’s always (ALWAYS) something more I could do. And I have a small, small blog so I can only imagine how overwhelmed mega-bloggers must feel!

4. Tell us a little bit about your food philosophy.

I’m passionate (to the point of being annoying) about cooking from-scratch and getting as close to fresh ingredients as possible. I avoid anything with preservatives, anything canned, anything jarred, anything pre-made. That being said, I don’t grind my own flour or churn my own butter or make my own graham crackers. But if I don’t make it myself, I read labels very, very closely. Seeing the mounting evidence of health dangers associated with chemicals used in canning (like BPA) or food preservation (and the food engineering involved with most preprepared foods), I just don’t feel comfortable cooking unless I start from scratch with the most basic ingredients.

All that said, I know everyone has different priorities and may not have the opportunity to cook everything from scratch all the time (even if they do want to avoid dangerous chemicals or food additives). No judgement from me. As a good friend of mine (and a busy mom) keeps telling me, “If I cooked without cans, I’d never cook anything!”

5. Run us through a typical day in the life of Mark.

Truthfully, it really depends on the day. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday I work mornings as a consultant for a chemical company (although what I do has absolutely nothing to do with their core business). So on those days, I don’t start on blog related activities until sometime in the early afternoon and I typically spend most of the day catching up on social media, Made with Love Monday submissions and final prep for other blog posts. Tuesdays and Fridays go something like this:

  • Awake by 8 AM

  • (More recently) Prayer and study

  • Breakfast / Watering herb plants

  • Catch up with Twitter and Triberr

  • Promote blog post for the day across different social media

  • Head to gym for lap swim

  • Lunch

  • Cooking/Recipe Testing/Photography/Writing/Editing

  • Catch up with social media

  • At-home workout

  • Prep for dinner

  • Evening walk with Boyfriend Javelin

  • Dinner

  • Catch up with authorized Food Fetish Friday blog-reading

  • (If there’s time) Housework

  • (More recently) Prayer and study

  • Asleep by midnight (most nights)

We always go walking in the evenings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and we typically go out for dinner on Fridays. Saturdays and Sundays have a schedule similar to above, except there is oven grocery shopping, meeting up with friends, catching a movie or some other activity in there somewhere. I try to devote at least part of the weekend to actual cooking.

6. Where does your inspiration come from in the kitchen?

I have a really strong desire to “get it right” when I cook. And if I’m not perfectly happy with something, I’m fairly obsessive about remaking and remaking and remaking a recipe until I’m happy. And even then, there’s sometimes niggling little doubts. As far as why I cook… I guess that comes from two things: 1) I love creating (and attempting to perfect) something from nothing and 2) to me, cooking is supposed to be about demonstrating love for the people I love (although I often forget that).

7. How about your inspiration for writing? {My son is getting his PHD in English Lit, so I find writers fascinating.}

Again, I really think it comes down to how much I love to create something from nothing, to imagine people, stories, worlds – and bring them to life in other people’s heads. In many ways, I get to almost live through the characters I create. Often that helps me to see something about myself (and often it’s not something I want to see). I love writing fiction, but I’ve become really rusty because I don’t do it much anymore. Most of what I write now is devoted to the blog…

8. How do you decide which dishes make it on the site and which do not?

I share the food I love and recipes I hope will be valuable to others – and most of it is comfort food. I develop all of my recipes from start to finish, so I’m very, very selective about which dishes I decide to work on. Because I’m so obsessive and I know that if I start working on a recipe and later decide it’s not worth sharing, then I will have wasted a lot of time (and ingredients) in the process. I won’t share something until I’m happy with the final result (and I’ve been able to duplicate success multiple times). This sometimes means poor Boyfriend Javelin has to suffer through the same strawberry pie week after week after week! To make sure I don’t lose track of what recipes are in progress, I tend to keep a running spreadsheet of the different stages of each recipe…

9. Does  Boyfriend Javelin cook with you, or is he your taste tester?

Boyfriend Javelin really doesn’t cook these days. He claims he can and I think what he means is that if I didn’t cook, he would be able to make food for himself. Which I’m sure is true, but I don’t think I’d be willing to eat it. But he’s an excellent taster (and dishwasher!) because he’s honest and doesn’t sugar-coat it. If I can make him happy (and satisfy my own obsessiveness), I can be reasonably confident I’ve got a recipe that’s worth sharing.

10. What’s a typical weekend meal for you two?

On weekends, we typically eat out for at least one main meal. And it really depends on what we feel like. Now that we’re living in Indianapolis, we’ve become much more adventuresome with trying new places. But typically we gravitate to the same types of food – I love pastas, cheese and anywhere with a good pulled pork and he loves burgers, tomato pastas and anywhere with good onion rings. If we still lived in Cleveland, we’d be at Michael Symon’s B-spot just about every weekend.

11. If I forced you to choose between milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate for baking which one would win?

Hands down, dark. Every time. No contest.

12. If you’re going to go all out for dinner, would you pick a beef dish, pork dish or chicken dish? What would be the end result?

I’d choose pulled pork, specifically North Carolina style with all that delicious vinegar. And since I love pizza so much, the ultimate would be to combine pulled pork over homemade pizza dough baked in a wood-fired pizza oven. That would be heavenly…

13. Favourite drink with dinner, are you wine guy, beer guy, or cocktail guy?

Cocktails for sure. My favorite mixed drink is Bacardi and Coke (I know, I’m so simple) – I could drink those all night and never be bored. A real mojito would probably be my second choice.

14. Ultimate battle of the condiments…which one wins if you can only use one?

Mayonnaise – it’s so versatile and used for so many things. But dijon mustard would be a close second.

15. When it comes to salad dressings, what’s your fave? Is it homemade or store-bought?

I LOVE ranch dressing. And I LOVE Hidden Valley ranch. I’m still working on a homemade version that can compete, but so far (sadly) nothing has come close. But I’m hopeful because I feel like such a hypocrite pouring bottled Hidden Valley all over my salads…

16. If you were stranded on a dessert island with one kitchen essential what would you hope that item would be?

A good chef knife. Because then, maybe, I’d have a fighting chance. Maybe.

17. People are coming for dinner at the last-minute {happens to me all the time}, what would you whip up for them?

Pasta (like linguine or spaghetti) with roasted shrimp and a lemon butter sauce accompanied by salad with toasted croutons and roasted seasonal vegetables. It’s all easy to make and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. If I knew my guests don’t eat seafood, I would probably opt for Bolognese with pasta, salad and homemade garlic bread. (I told you I love pasta!)

18. Favourite indulgent dessert? And why?

Cheesecake for sure. First, there’s the whole cheese part. Then there’s the richness. And then the fact that up until recently, I never made it myself. But good tiramisu would be a close second.

19. If you could cook with one celebrity chef who would it be and why?

If you had asked me this 5 years ago, I would have said (without hesitation) Ina Garten. Now I would probably pick Michael Symon (he seems down-to-earth and pretty genuine) or Chad Robertson (of Tartine Bread) because I would love hands-on bread-making expertise.

20. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is blogging still a big part of the picture?

I’m not sure what the future holds. I know I want to be making a bigger difference and demonstrating love with greater enthusiasm in 5 years. I don’t know where that will take me, but somehow I think blogging (or something similar) will be part of that. The rest I entrust to God…

Dare Portion of Burning Down The Kitchen:

For each interview I send 3 dares for the person to do. They are completely optional and people can opt to do none, all 3, or anything in between. Mark chose dare option #3 which was:

Show us a photo of your kitchen (preferably with you in it) while it’s in full mess mode!

Mark from Javelin Warrior

I chose to make over Mark’s Low Sugar Cinnamon Cranberry Granola. I fully intended to make it exactly the same as his. But I didn’t have cranberries, and it just spiralled out of control from there.

Of course that’s sort of the cool thing about recipes. You find inspiration and tweak them to your own taste and what you have in your cupboards and fridge. Apparently Mark’s are stocked with healthy food, and mine are stocked for an 8 year child. Maybe if we would get a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s near us I could change my ways. In the meantime, enjoy the granola.

Chocolate Granola by Cravings of a Lunatic

Chocolate Granola with Dried Cherries, Almonds and Coconut

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: Tons of Granola, about 8 cups worth!

Serving Size: Depends how hungry you are!

Chocolate Granola with Dried Cherries, Almonds and Coconut

Granola with a twist. This one is made with cocoa, dried cherries, slivered almonds, coconut and chunks of chocolate. It's a chocolate lovers dream.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons roasted saigon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 2 cups dried cherries
  • 1 cup coconut
  • Optional ingredient to be added when granola is cooled- 1/2 to 1 cup chopped or shaved chocolate

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 275 degree F.
  • Combine coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, cocoa powder, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn down to a medium low heat and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl combine the oats, almonds, cherries and coconut. (You can also toss the cocoa powder in now instead of putting it in the saucepan if you like. Do it whichever way makes you happy.)
  • Pour your liquid mixture over your dry mixture. Toss with a spoon until it's all combined and yummy looking.
  • Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spoon the granola over top. (you can use two cookie sheets if you want a thinner layer which results in dryer granola) Spread out evenly. Pop the cookie sheet in the oven.
  • Cook for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on how dry you like your granola and how many pans you used. I used 1 pan and cooked mine for 1 hour, but I like my granola moister than most people do. So use your judgement to cook to your own taste. If you used two cookie sheets you could likely get away with an hour for dry granola. If you used 1 pan and like it dry I would suggest cooking it for 1 hour and 15 minutes minimum, and maximum 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Allow to cool (good luck with this step!)
  • At this point if you want to add chocolate pieces for extra chocolate goodness you can toss it in now. It has to be cooled or the chocolate will just melt.
  • Once it's cool you can crumble it into a container and store it for up to 2 weeks.
  • Or you can do like I did, and pile it on ice cream.
  • Serve with a big old wicked chocolate granola smile!

Notes

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Chocolate Granola by Cravings of a Lunatic

I swear I should not be allowed in the kitchen when I’m in hungry mode. Bad things happen. Or I should say really good things happen taste wise, bad things for my waistline.

This is super easy to make and it’s great on just about everything. Or just to nosh on while watching a flick.

I would like to thank Mark for allowing me the pleasure of getting to know him better, and sharing his awesomeness with my readers. I encourage you to go peruse his recipe archives. He has recipes for things like  Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Pizza and Homemade Pizza Dough. He has some Fudge Brownies I am chomping at the bit to try out. I love his Herb Roasted Chicken, as well as his Breaded Chicken Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce. He has some Homemade Crusty Baguettes on his site that will make you cry tears of joy. And his Homemade Brioche Bread is absolutely divine. I tried his Orange Zest Vinaigrette and it was wonderful. I have his Sweet and Tangy Homemade Barbecue Sauce bookmarked to make next week. I love barbecue sauce so it’s a must try. I really wanted to make his Fresh Confetti Corn but our corn isn’t in season yet. It will be made once fresh corn hits the corn stands that will pop up all over Essex County soon. There’s so many recipes to try on his site so I really think you should spend some time poking about his recipe index.

Make sure you follow his blog while you visit. Then stalk him on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and G+. Mark also has series called Made with Love Mondays, Tuesday Tutor and Food Fetish Fridays.

Tune in tomorrow morning for some 4th of July fun from a Canuck. Then tomorrow night I put a spin on a Bobby Flay Burger you might not see coming!

If you missed any recent posts you can catch up  by clicking any of the ones below that strike your fancy:

Virtual Picnic Kicks Off with a Giveaway

Angel Hair Pasta with Shallots, Garlic, Broccoli and Lemon

Hooligan Stuff, and a Good Cause or Two

Coconut Whipped Cream and Cherry Parfaits

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Strawberry Topping

Thanks for reading!

Toodles and smoochies! xx

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Comments

  1. 1

    Thank you so much for the kind words, Kim – you’re too generous! Anything good in me I can’t take credit for. Just happy to share. And you’re totally welcome to make-over any of my recipes :) It’s true, the granola here doesn’t really share much in common with my low sugar version, but that’s ok and this sounds terribly delicious. I love how inspiration works! Thank you so much for having me… Woot woot!

    • 2
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      The thanks is all to you Mark. It was a pleasure getting to know you. Thank you so much for allowing me to do this.

      I swear my brain just instantly tries to make any healthy recipe unhealthy. It’s like a sickness at this point. I always have good intentions, then I crave chocolate and it’s all downhill from there.

  2. 3

    I AM SO EXCITED! I love mark and he is one of the very first food blogging friends I made!!! I loved getting to know even more about him (how cute are he and “Boyfriend Javelin”? Plus um what I didn’t know they lived in Cleveland!?)

    And I can’t blame you for chocolate-fying this granola ;)

    • 4

      Aww, you’re so sweet, Kayle. Thank you for the kind words and we actually lived in Cleveland for about 6 years (although Boyfriend Javelin grew up there…)

    • 5
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Yah Kayle. And I know right, they are adorable.

      I have problems. I don’t think my parents allowed me enough sugar as a kid or something. lol

  3. 6

    Very informative interview! It is always nice to see how people manage! And that granola-love. Heading over to check out his site!

    • 7
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Exactly! I love delving into the lives of other bloggers. It’s oodles of fun. And Mark is just a cool guy.

      Ha, thanks. I swear my sweets fetish is outta control.

  4. 8

    Now this is my kind of granola!

  5. 10

    Really fun interview! I love Javelin Warrior – great blog. So nice to get to know more about Mark. I’m a bit surprised, though, that you didn’t do a turtle version of Mark’s recipe! Really good post – thanks.

    • 11
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks John. Me too, he’s just such a great person, and a great read. Okay now I have to go make a turtle version of it. Thanks a lot John. Bah ha ha!

  6. 12

    Great interview – really good questions! Fascinating read. Love Mark already so it was a pleasure to find out more about him. :)

    • 13
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks so much Anneli. It was such a pleasure to get to know him better. He’s just good people and wickedly talented.

  7. 14

    I have clicked over from Mark’s blog and am loving what I see. Your apology to Mark about your candified version of his healthy granola was hilarious, and your cheeky writing style is very readable. Mark’s blog is pretty much about other people, so your incisive and funny questions allowed us to know him (and his routine!) so much better. He is a great, great guy and I love his blog: his attitude, generosity, recipes and writing style. Anyone not already heading over after reading this post needs their head examining!

    • 15
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks so much Kellie. I just love to write so it’s nice to hear people enjoy it.

      I concur. Mark is amazing, and I’ve really just come to respect him even more than before. Which I didn’t think was possible. He’s such a kind soul. And wicked talented.

  8. 17

    Haha this was a brilliant interview with a delicious recipe to boot :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  9. 19

    I really enjoy Javelin Warrior’s blog. :) It’s nice to get to know him better. :) Food Fetish Friday’s Rule. :)

    • 20
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      I feel exactly the same way. He’s such a great person. I’m so glad I got to know him better.

  10. 21

    Great interview, Kim! I am now in love with Javelin Warrior. After all, he knows about good NC barbecue, right?! =)

    And hooray for candy granola! I’m sorry you have a poltergeist. At least it can cook! lol

    • 22
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks lady.

      He does. The dude rocks it out. I am so excited to try his BBQ sauce, among other dishes.

      Ha, I swear I always have healthy intentions but then something goes awry.

  11. 23

    Great interview you two! Loved getting to learn more about one of my favorites!!! However, you really let him get away with the dare Kim. Where’s the mess?!?!! :)

    • 24

      lol You know, I conveniently forgot all about the mess part, MJ! And to be honest, it was the last day before I had to get the photo over to Kim and the kitchen really wasn’t THAT messy ;) So glad you enjoyed…

    • 25
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks so much lady. And I know right. It looked pretty clean to me. I may have to force him to send me a make up photo of the place when it’s trashed during a crazy baking session or something.

  12. 26

    It has been too long since I read one of these posts. Always a winner. And the sweeter the granola the better in my book :)

    • 27
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      So nice to see you Emily. How are you? Hope everything is well.

      And I totally agree. The sweeter the better tends to be my motto in life. Lol!

  13. 28

    Haha…so surprising to see you veer off track ;) Your granola looks amazing…and it was fun to get to know more about Mark. You ask such great questions!

    • 29
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      I know right. You were shocked right. Totally beside yourself in surprise I bet. Chin on the ground and the whole nine yards.

      Ha, I’m nothing if not predictable.

      He is such a great guy. I really enjoyed getting to know him better.

  14. 30

    That’s a kitchen in full mess? Puhleeze. He needs to come to my place for a full mess. I’ve had years of practice.

    What a fun interview!

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