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I'm Crystal Vaughn

a classically trained chef taking holistic plant-based nutrition on a grand adventure through North America. When I’m not creating in our traveling kitchen, you can usually find me on my yoga mat or a hiking trail.

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I have been working on this recipe for a couple weeks and I am so excited to share it with you.  I don't know many people who will tell you vegan and gluten-free baking is easy.  The first time I tested this recipe I was very pleased how they turned out.  I have never claimed to be much of a baker but I may be changing my tune after this recipe!

Sometimes my family just gets me!  My aunt and cousins sent me some fruit from the Rio Grand Valley in Texas as a belated Christmas gift.  There isn't much I would choose to receive over food.  This delicious citrus brings back great memories of my childhood road trips to South Padre Island to visit my Tutu (grandmother).  We would buy bags of fruit on the way to and from the Island while passing through the Valley.

This year my dad's satsuma tree in Florida did not bear much fruit so no new recipes with those (here are my Dark Chocolate Truffles I made with them last year).  I was more than thrilled to get these and get in the kitchen!  I have been working on some other cookie recipes when I received the oranges and decided they would be a lovely addition.


After a few tries I think I have the perfectly orange scented chocolate chip cookie that are surprisingly simple to make.  I really hope you will give these guilt free treats a try.  I have shared them with my yoga classes and on ski trips and so far everyone has loved them!

Love and chocolate and citrus (oh my!),


Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 15 cookies


3 cups of oats, divided
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange (about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350° and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat non-stick baking mat.

1. Place 2 1/2 cups of oats in a dry blender or food processor and pulse until a flour is made.

2. In a medium sized bowl add oat flour, the remaining 1/2 cup of oats, arrowroot powder, vanilla powder (if using extract add with wet ingredients) and salt.  Stir well.

3. Stir zest into the dry ingredients.

4. In a small bowl or measuring cup stir together orange juice, melted coconut oil and maple syrup. 

5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until completely combined.  Working quickly from this point so the oats don't absorb all the liquid and make the cookies dry.

6. Fold the chocolate chips into the cookie dough.

7.  Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough, roll into a ball, slightly flatten to get desired shape and repeat until all the cookies are made and spread out on the sheet pan.

8. Bake for 18 minutes.  Enjoy!

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It's almost Valentine's Day and since no fondue spread is complete without a little chocolate; I introduce to you my Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondue!  You guys are in for a treat.  This creamy caramely dip is so yummy. 

For some reason a fondue night feels like a wonderful way to spend Valentine's day.  Get all cozy, spread out all your dippers around the table and open a glass of wine.  This recipe is perfect for two but is easily doubled or tripled for a get together with friends. 


Sadly, I will be missing Valentine's with my husband this year so we will have to celebrate at a later date.  What makes it worse is I abandoned him last year to spend a month in Guatemala (maybe next year we will spend it together??).  For this year I am headed south, back to Oklahoma, to help my mom move out of our house.  A very bittersweet trip to say goodbye to the last real place that felt like home. 

Enough about me!  I really hope you give these fondues a try.  They are sure to impress your loved ones and be a fun night for all involved!  In my opinion you don't need cards and gifts to show you love somebody.  Usually a delicious meal does the trick :)


Happy Valentine's Day!

Love and chocolate,


Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondue
Serves 2*


1 cup of dates, pitted
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
3 tbsp cacao powder**
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 tsp vanilla powder (1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
assorted dippers


1. Soak the pitted dates for 20 to 30 minutes and drain.

2. In a blender or food processor add soaked dates, non-dairy milk, cacao powder, maple syrup, melted coconut oil vanilla powder, and salt.  Blend until smooth.

3. Heat chocolate until warmed through either over a double broiler or in a small saucepan over low, stirring frequently.  Be sure not to scorch the fondue.

5. Optional: sprinkle a little coarse salt over the fondue before serving.

4. Serve with your favorite dippers: strawberries, apple slices, pretzels, graham crackers, cookies and/or marshmallows. 

Notes: *Approximate serving.  Could easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group.  **You can replace the cacao powder with cocoa powder, which is more processed.

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You may never guess what makes up the base of these flourless brownies.  What do you think?  If you guessed sweet potatoes and black beans than you are right!  I served these little bite sized treats at the American Heart Association Walk last month and they were such a hit I knew I had to share the recipe with you guys.  One little boy probably ate 15.   No idea he was eating his vegetables too!

Halloween will be here before you know it!  These would be the perfect little treat to decorate with the kiddos (or adults).  I've been recipe testing a pumpkin frosting but it hasn't quite come together yet but hopefully I'll be able to share that with you soon!


This recipe uses coconut sugar, maple syrup and dates to sweeten and I really think you should give these a try.  You don’t even miss the flour and refined sugars! 

Do you plan on giving these a try?  Have you tried alternative sweeteners and other ingredients in your baking?  Please let me know in the comments below!  I love hearing from you!

Sweets and spooks,


{Flourless} Fudgy Brownie Bites
About 40 mini brownies*


1/2 cup black beans, cooked or canned and drained

1/2 cup dates, pits removed

2 tbsp tahini (or other nut or seed butter)

2 tbsp coconut oil, plus extra for the pan

1/3 cup sweet potato, cooked skins removed

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup non-dairy milk

1/2 cup cacao powder**

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2 tbsp arrowroot powder (or non-gmo corn starch)

1 tsp vanilla powder (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp mini non-dairy chocolate chips (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350˚ and lightly oil 2 mini muffin pans with coconut oil.

1. In a high speed blender or food processor mix the first 7 ingredients (the black beans to the non-dairy milk) until combined.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, besides the chocolate chips, and blend until the batter has come together.  Occasionally scrapping down the sides.

3.  Stir in the chocolate chips, if using.

4. Scoop tablespoon sized spoonfuls into the muffin pan.

5.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the brownies are set.

6. Remove immediately to a cooling rack. 

Notes: * Plus or minus depending on how much batter you eat :).  This recipe is easily doubled or even tripled. **You can use cocoa powder but I recommend using cacao powder because it is less processed and high in antioxidants and magnesium. 


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The information on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any health condition or disease. It does not replace medical advice from a licensed professional.