Recipe: chocolate-coconut granola

With the descent of summer, do you need a recipe for cold breakfasts? I’ve been faithfully using this granola recipe for the last several years. Granted, it has evolved over the last several years and feel free to keep it evolving to fit your preferences. 🙂

  • 5 c. Old-Fashioned oats
  • 1 c. unsweetened coconut
  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1/2 c. unsalted sunflower seeds (if you use salted seeds, omit salt from the ingredient list)
  • 1/3 c. ground flax
  • 3 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 generous tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Stir dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine:

  • 1/3-1/2 c. honey (I use 1/3 but, as a rule, I don’t like things very sweet)
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla

Stir and then pour over dry ingredients. Stir granola until well mixed. Bake on cookie sheet at 325° F. (160° C) for 40-45 minutes, stirring halfway through. Aim for golden brown. After the granola has cooled, add:

  • 200g (approximately 1 1/2 c.) dark chocolate, chunked
granola on baking tray
Note: double recipe pictured above

Recipe fail: mousse au chocolat

We tried. Twice. And then I tried by myself a third time. I am still determined. Every time I think of mousse I had in France, I begin stockpiling chocolate and cream.

The first failure was completely my fault. My roommate and I had even purchased precious raspberries to garnish the mousse. But then I tried to whip the egg whites in the same mixer that I had just whipped the cream… without cleaning the bowl.

Yah, so I didn’t know.

We tried again. In the meantime, we watched the cream and chocolate mixture slowly sinking. What should we do? We decided to stick the chocolate mixture in the refrigerator to preserve it. Wrong choice. When we finally folded in the egg whites, we discovered that the chocolate had chilled into ribbons.

We still ate it and it was still amazing especially with luscious raspberries, but we knew we could do better.

So we tried again about two months later. This time, it would be perfect! Instead, we over-whipped the egg whites so that they settled into little pools in the bottoms of the ramekin dishes while we ate dinner. Plus, the chocolate had sat too long and so, although it was warm, it wasn’t warm enough, and beaded as we folded it into the cream. So the mousse was grainy and watery. But somehow still amazing.

small dish of chocolate mousse with chocolate shavings

But I knew we could do better. So one afternoon, I had a guest and decided to try a third time. I felt fairly confident even though I was on my own this time. I would whip the whites into perfect elf hats and whisk the yolks into the chocolate while the chocolate was still warm enough.

Instead, the chocolate stiffened when I whisked in the egg yolks. I tried heating it again, but you probably know how that goes. In the meantime, the egg whites began to sink.

With nothing to lose because it all was a failure anyway and I would just have to serve my guest snack mix and pretend I had never tried, I whisked the globby chocolate mixture into the cream until it was 100% incorporated (forget the 10 folds limit!). Then I folded the sagging whites into the chocolate and cream, poured rather than spooned it into ramekin dishes, grated some chocolate on the top and stuck it in the fridge for time out.

I pulled it out before my guest arrived, just to sample it. Heavy instead of fluffy. A little like mousse meets fudge. Before I realized it, I had eaten the entire dish, but don’t worry, there were 3 more dishes to share with my guest. 😉

If anyone has a mousse au chocolat recipe that is easier than what I’ve tried, I would love to have it! (Note: none of the chocolate pudding and cool whip stuff. I love that too, but it will never transport my taste buds to France.)

Or maybe you have your own mousse story…

Trying dieting

I’ve never been the person watching what she ate, until I came to Spain. Then it was simple: overdose on protein and stay away from sugar and caffeine. Until I got back from the States this fall and my blood test revealed shocking cholesterol numbers. 

Genetics? Yes. Well, partly. Also, my love affair with cheese. After visiting France a couple of years ago, I thought it would be nice for God to call me to a country where one can eat a different kind of cheese every day of the year. Now I’m thankful I’m in Spain, where cheeses are outstanding, but numbered. 

The doctor gave me a “to eat and not to eat” list. I did my own research, plugged a basic menu into a nutrition calculator and stuck to it for the most part. I’ve been eating well, make no mistake, but food prep takes longer than it used to. Plus, I spent a couple of months enduring my roommates snickers when I weighed almost everything I ate. I also had to endure my sister’s judgment when I feasted on a rosy salmon fillet, roasted brussel sprouts, rye crackers with homemade hummus, with a mango and 85% chocolate for dessert. 

I love baking. I would probably bake every day if it weren’t for the piles of dishes. Or the piles of sweets. When I had a roommate, it was easier to dispose of my leftover baked goods. Granted, she was not always pleased to see another plateful of a sugary something with an attached note: “EAT!” 

Honestly, I am a healthy eater by discipline, not naturally. If you’re going to trip me up, set out a cracker variety and a luscious cheeseball, chips and salsa, or just mounds of greasy potato chips. I don’t even like bread, but once and a while, I pig out on bread, especially if it’s loaded with heart-stopping slabs of cold butter.  It hasn’t been all that long ago since I ate an entire bag of chips in one day. Or one day, I was walking down the street and smelled hot dogs. Hot dogs! And I could taste them, roasted over a fire, overloaded with tangy mustard and a heap of shredded cheddar. I admitted this craving to my roommate who, after watching me carefully blend kale smoothies, was amused. Rightfully so. 

For us first-worlders, food, like so many other things in life, is a choice. What we choose today may affect our tomorrow. 

Do you have a food plan? What do you do? Do you make allowances or take days off? Wedge in a bit of space for that mousse au chocolat? Speaking of which…


Photo by Cody Pulliam on Unsplash

Goodbye for keeps

The living room was a disaster of misplaced everything. As if an unsupervised 1-year-old had been unleashed. Indeed, he had. After he  yanked the tablecloth off the coffee table, he came over for a hug and tickles. But he squirmed away when he glimpsed his juice box. Now was as good of a time as any to squirt the remaining contents onto the table and floor. 

But my mind was elsewhere and so was his mother’s. It was our last evening together before they moved away. Our last talk face-to-face. 

We were both pleased by the prospect of a promising future for the little family, but also stunned that this moment was a last. Our last conversation parked on our stained living room couches. The last time I could grin at her as I heaped her plate higher than she wanted. “Eat! Eat!” But she ate every bite of couscous tonight despite the protest that she wasn’t hungry. And she made a dent in the chocolate cupcakes I had made just for her. The ones with cream cheese in the center. 

Her son bit the couch cover with a mouthful of chocolate and left a reminder that I would have to scrub out later.

We both hated goodbyes. We talked about the past, the future, black magic, God’s power over Satan, and how God’s power is available to us. She let me pray for her–a long prayer in the name of Jesus. 

A spoon dropped over and over onto the accommodating tile until I realized the neighbors below might care and snatched up both little boy and spoon. He giggled as I tipped him upside down.

“I allow very few people to enter my heart, and you are one of them,” she said.

We didn’t cry as we hugged goodbye. Neither did I cry as I scrubbed at the stubborn chocolate stains and wiped up sticky juice puddles. Goodbye was too final to sink in. 

It still is.


Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Christmas this year

Christmas this year looks different. There is a usual busyness, made busier by a short trip to Africa wedged in between full weeks (more on that later).

It’s my second year of celebrating Christmas in Spain. But unlike last year, this year I have the opportunity to be with friends that don’t celebrate Christmas.

I love Christmas: lights, carols, gifts, markets, chocolates, roasted chestnuts, scarves and winter coats. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

This year I want to indulge in that warm, fuzzy feeling. I want to enjoy the celebration of Christmas. And primarily, not secondarily, I want to experience a fresh joy and excitement of the Messiah’s birth. A Savior, born into the world, a light born into thick darkness.

He’s still shining.

Sometimes, surrounded by people who know the Christmas story by heart and perform it every year, I forget to savor that first Christmas joy.

My sister has been telling my 1-year-old niece the Christmas story using a miniature nativity set (minus the minor character sheep which may have gone out with the trash).

Telling the story to someone who has never heard it makes the story exciting again. What would happen in my own heart this year if I could share the wonder of Christmas with those who have never heard?