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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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Growing up, Almond Joys were my favorite candy bar.  My dad would often pick me up from elementary school and take me to 7 Eleven and I would almost always grab an almond joy and a cherry Icee.  Well, those sugar loaded days are gone but I still love the combination of coconut, chocolate and almond. 

While we were on the road it was nice not to have to cook three meals a day so overnight oats became an easy breakfast staple.  You may remember my Strawberry Almond Butter Overnight Oats I shared from Maine.  There are so many variations and flavor combinations you can try with this concept.

This recipe is packed full of superfoods and is perfect for people with busy mornings.  All you do is stir the ingredients together and place it in the refrigerator overnight, scoop it into a bowl to enjoy or pack it in a jar for a delicious breakfast to go.  Don't forget your spoon!

Happy mornings,

Crystal

 

Almond Joy Overnight Oats
Makes 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gf if needed)
4 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp maca powder (optional)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/3 cup almond butter
2 to 3 tbsp maple syrup or raw honey*
2 1/4 cups almond milk (preferable homemade)**

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a large bowl stir together all of the dry ingredients: oats, chia seeds, cacao, maca (if using), coconut and almonds.

2. Add almond butter, sweetener of choice and almond milk.  Stir until everything is incorporated.

3. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to three days.

4.  Scoop into a bowl or pack in a jar to go.

Serving suggestion: top with coconut, almonds and cacao nibs.

Notes: *Depending on how sweet you like it.  I reccomend starting with 2 tbsp and you can taste and add from there.  **Check out my Almond Milk recipe here.


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I have tried making many versions of almond milk but this one is my favorite.  It does take a little planning ahead but I promise it is worth it. 

I could go on and on about this but I will try to keep it simple.  You should always soak your almonds before you make them into milk because of the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.  Without getting to sciencey on you I’ll break them down here:

Phytic acid (or phytates) -  bind to minerals in the digestive tract and carry them out without absorption; vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc.  Can you see why this would be a problem?  We want to digest those minerals, not waste them!  Phytic acid is also in grains, legumes (beans), other nuts and seeds.  By soaking, we can remove or reduce this pesky anti-nutrient.  Adding a little acid (like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar) to your soaking water helps break down even more phytates.

Enzyme inhibitors – this genius compound that almonds (and other foods) have is quite impressive.  It stops the almond from sprouting prematurely.  Only when the conditions are right will the enzyme inhibitor release and the almond will start to germinate.  What this means for you: the enzyme inhibitor when eaten does not break down the food in our digestive tract so we do not absorb the vitamins and minerals. Once soaked, the availability of the nutrients are increased.

This process only works with raw almonds so make sure they have not been pasteurized.  If they are not raw, soaking does nothing but soften them up for easier blending. 

I hope you guys enjoyed this recipe and technique.  Once you know how to make almond milk the possibilities for nut and seed milks are endless! 

With love,

Crystal

Almond Milk
Makes 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of raw almonds
Water, for soaking
A squeeze of lemon or a splash of apple cider vinegar (optional but recommended)
4 cups water
1 or 2 dates, pitted (optional)*
1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)*
Pinch of pink Himalayan or sea salt
1 nut milk bag or cheese cloth

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a medium bowl place almonds and enough water to cover them a couple of inches.  Add your squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar to the bowl.  Let soak for 8 to 12 hours. 

2. Drain the almonds after they have soaked.  Rinse two or three times.  

3. Add the almonds to a high speed blender with 4 cups of water, pitted dates, vanilla and salt.**

4.  Start blending on low.  Slowly turn up the blender until the almonds are pulverized and the milk is creamy and frothy.

5. Place the nut milk bag over the container you want to pour your almond milk into.  Slowly pour the almond milk in.

6.  Gently squeeze all of the liquid out of the bag until the pulp is all you have left.

7. Enjoy right away or refrigerate.  Keeps about 4 to 5 days.

Notes: *If you plan on using the almond milk in a savory recipe omit the dates and the vanilla.  **If you plan on saving the almond pulp to make flour, do not add the dates, vanilla or salt (you don't want these items in your flour).  Follow to step 6, rinse out your blender, add the milk back in with the dates, vanilla and salt and blend until creamy and frothy.

 

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After some time in the city and out of our “camp house” we were ready to get back to it and Acadia National Park was the perfect place to get settled back in. 

They call it Vacationland for a reason!

 

The weather was great, the scenery was incredible and we got to celebrate one month on the road (and still loving it!) plus our first wedding anniversary!  Both were very big milestones for us and we celebrated accordingly. 

 

I made strawberry almond butter overnight oats for breakfast because we were lucky enough to be there at the first of strawberry season and I couldn’t pass them up. (Recipe below) 

 

For dinner I made a salad out of farmers market finds and drunken mushroom pasta with a full bottle of red wine (don’t worry, it was worth it!).

The most exciting part about our anniversary dinner was a very special bottle of champagne.

{Warning!  I’m about to go on a tangent about this crazy bottle that traveled through 10 states to help us celebrate our first anniversary.}  

For our wedding we bought multiple bottles of champagne to share at the waterfall we hiked to.  We packed them up and hiked them over a mile to the spot where we would share our vows. 

Towards the end of that part of the ceremony I was looking for one last bottle but everyone said they had all been drank. 

 

After searching for a couple of minutes I gave up the search deciding to believe them.  One of my wonderful new brother-in-laws carried my backpack down now that I was in my wedding dress and it wasn’t until the next morning I discovered this lone renegade bottle. 

We made the decision then and there that it would be our top tier of cake or at least representative for it.  We packed it up and flew it home. 

 

When we decided to pack up and go on this adventure I knew this bottle had to come with us and it traveled all the way up to Maine (after visiting 10 states all together) to be here on this day!  And, I have to say, much better than frozen year-old cake! 

 

Okay, back to Acadia…. What more is there to say?  You should really go see for yourself; the rugged rocks the varied landscapes of lush green and almost dessert like peaks plus perfectly clear lakes and ponds and a suspicious little island you can only cross over to at low tide. I promise you it is worth the trip. 

 

My only regret is that we were in Maine before blueberry season started so I recommend you plan accordingly.  I hear they are the best.

 

Are you still thinking about those Strawberry overnight oats?  I hope so! 

 

If you haven’t made overnight oats before you are in for a treat!  Basically, you stir together all of the ingredients, chill overnight and a hearty delicious breakfast is waiting for you in the morning.  As easy as that! 

These bright red lush berries are definitely the center of attention in this dish but the almond butter adds a nice depth of flavor (and it is practically a food group in my world) plus a big part of the inspiration for this dish were the organic Maine grown oats I picked up at the Portland Farmers Market. 

 

I hope you will give them a try!  I would love to hear how you like them! 

 

 

Never stop exploring,

Crystal

Strawberry & Almond Butter Overnight Oats
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1 cup oats (GF if needed)
4 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder*
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup almond butter
1 large handful of strawberries, quartered
3 tbsp almonds, toasted and chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a large bowl stir together dry ingredients: oats, chia seeds, vanilla bean powder, cinnamon and salt.

2.  Add wet ingredients to the bowl: milk, maple syrup and almond butter.  Stir until completely combined.

3. Gently fold in strawberries.

5. Refrigerate overnight in the bowl or in two mason jars for serving.

6. Top with more strawberries, a dollop of almond butter and chopped almonds.

 

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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.