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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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Thanksgiving, at it's core, is about coming together and giving thanks.  Thanks for the harvest, thanks for community and thanks for another year of health.  Let's keep that at the forefront as we enter this holiday season. 

I encourage you to take time to sit in gratitude.  I promise, when we focus on the things we are grateful for we actually feel better, happier and my guess is more pleasant to be around.  This year I am thankful for so much; a happy and healthy baby boy, a loving and supportive husband, an adventure loving husky, wonderful family and a safe home to call our own.   This chapter of my life isn't exactly what I pictured but it is quite wonderful and everyday I choose gratitude.

 

Now, onto this rich and creamy soup!  I can't say that I love every pumpkin soup I try.  I knew if I was going to create one it needed a little bit of a twist.  A little added intrigued and I think the combination of creamy coconut milk and spicy and flavorful ginger meld perfectly with the sweetness of pumpkin.

This is a great addition to your holiday menu and you can even make it ahead of time and heat right before serving.  One less thing to do on Thanksgiving Day!  If you try this recipe I would love to hear what you think in the comments below. 

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

In gratitude,

Crystal

Coconut Ginger Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 baking pumpkin, around 2 1/2 lb
Cooking oil, preferably avocado
2 shallots (or 1 small onion), sliced
3 cloves of garlic
1 15 oz can of coconut milk
1 heaping tbsp ginger, peeled and grated
3 cups of vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper, to taste
toppings of choice

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds.  Drizzle both sides with about 1 to 2 tbsp oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place open side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

2. While the pumpkin cooks, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add in the sliced shallot and whole garlic cloves.  Cook for about 5 minutes and remove from heat and set aside.

3. When pumpkin is done, remove from oven.  Allow to cool and remove skins.  Rough chop the pumpkin.

4. In a blender add the can of coconut milk*, grated ginger, cooked shallots and garlic, 3 cups of vegetable stock or water and the pumpkin.  Blend until a smooth consistency is reached.  CAUTION:  if your ingredients are hot start blending very slowly and/or blend in batches.**

5. Pour soup into the large pot that was used for the shallots and garlic.  Heat over medium until starting to bubble, reduce heat to low.  Cook until warmed through and desired consistency is reached, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

6. Ladle into a bowl and serve with your favorite toppings: a swirl of coconut milk, micro greens or parsley, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds if you are feeling extra festive.

Notes: *Reserve a couple spoonfuls if you would like to use as a garnish.  **Be very careful if any of your ingredients are hot.  Hot liquids expand and can send the lid to your blender flying and liquid everywhere.  If your blender is small or you are worried about it being hot, split between multiple batches and stir together in the pot once completed.

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Jun 01, 2017

 

I love hummus.  I remember when it was first starting to gain popularity and wasn't just seen as a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food staple.  I would try every brand to find my favorite, which changed over time as I was exposed to new brands.  I even tried making it a few times but I could never get the texture and consistency just right.  I had lots of good versions at restaurants and mine just never lived up to it.  All of the research I did said I needed to add tons of oil and I just couldn't get myself to pour in half a bottle of olive oil when I was making it at home.  First, because it was expensive and second, I could see no reason to add all of that fat (not that I'm opposed to healthy fats).  So mine always turned out too dry and not that rich creamy texture you think of with good hummus.  For the time being, I gave up making it and resorted to only eating it at restaurants or the store bought varieties.  After a while, I got frustrated with all the packaged varieties and their ingredients.  I didn't want it with canola oil and preservatives but it was hard to find so back into the kitchen I went. 

This time I decided I would try adding a mixture of oil, tahini and water to see if I could still get the rich mouth feel that the oil and tahini gives it but come to a creamy consistency with the added water and not spend my whole paycheck on olive oil.  After a few tries, I had a great recipe (in my so humble opinion) that I could actually be proud of.  I've been using this recipe for a couple years now and it is a fantastic template for any other other hummus your heart desires.  I have used this base recipe with caramelized onions and balsamic, cilantro and jalapeño and I've even switched out the chickpeas for white beans to make a delicious white bean hummus.  Really, the possibilities are endless.  I hope you will give it a try and please let me know in the comments below if you would like me to share my other hummus recipes with you!

Love and hummus for all,

Crystal

Hummus

INGREDIENTS

2 cups of chickpeas, cooked and drained*
1/3 cup tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
water

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Put all of the ingredients (except the water) in a food processor.  Pulse until starting to combine.  Scrape down the sides.

2. Turn the food processor to on and start to drizzle in the water.  Scraping the sides occasionally.  Add until a nice creamy consistency is made.  It usually takes about 1/4 to 1/3 cups water. 

Notes: *To get the creamiest hummus I've been told you need to peel the chickpeas.  I'm sure it probably works but I can't get myself to take this step.  It's up to you if want to spend your day peeling beans but I think it is still good and creamy without this step!

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Mar 15, 2016

 

Spring is almost here!  The clocks have sprung forward and the days are getting longer.  Our bodies are starting to feel the energy of the seasons changing.  

I don't know about you but I am already starting to crave brighter and lighter foods.  My lunches have turned from warm dishes and soups to fresh salads.  Do you feel it too?  This vegetable packed salad is a wonderful addition to your weekly menu!

 

There are so many variations of this salad as well.  Feel free to switch out any of the veggies or legumes (beans) to your favorite or with whatever you have on hand.  If you choose to go soy free, switch out the edamame with green peas or leave them out all together. You could add a south of the border twist by substituting black beans, corn, cilantro and avocado (which is super delicious, by the way).  Think of this as a template recipe with endless possibilities! 

 

If you have any questions about a certain ingredient, please let me know.  I am happy to help :)

Wishing you bright sunny days, 

Crystal

Colorful Quinoa Salad
3 to 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/2 cup edamame, shelled
1/2 red bell pepper, small dice
2 green onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced (or 6-8 baby carrots)
1/2 cups (1 can) chickpeas
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Dressing:
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and set aside to cool.

2. Thaw or cook edamame for 5 minutes in simmering water to cover.  Drain and set aside.

3. In a large bowl add red bell pepper, green onions, carrots, chickpeas, parsley and cooled edamame.

4. In a small bowl mix together all ingredients except olive oil.  Once combined, slowly drizzle oil in while stirring.

5. Fluff quinoa and add to the bowl of vegetables.  Pour dressing over the top and stir until thoroughly combined.

6.  For best result let the salad sit for 30 minutes before consuming. 

 

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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.