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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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It feels like we live in a country where people obsess over losing weight and being skinny.  It is probably a time where more people worry about their weight than ever before.  You would think, if this is the case, we would all be thin but as a culture our waistlines are expanding.  Obviously, there is a huge disconnect. 

Skinny and weight lose have become advertising ploys and everywhere we look there is someone selling the next thing to make us skinnier.  Some of these may be a quick fix or a get skinny quick scheme but are we seeing lasting results?  No.  There must be a better way!  I know there is.  I propose that we change the discussion.  I think we need to look at it in a whole new light.

Let's work on being healthy instead of trying to be skinny.

I believe the healthier we become we will naturally shed our extra pounds.  I know it doesn't sound glamorous and it doesn't promise quick results (although, some may have them).  We really need to focus on getting healthy.  Over time, as we heal our bodies we will lose our unwanted pounds.  It will take time and we need to learn to listen to our bodies.  I know sometimes we don't feel like doing the work and it seems like it may take a while but take a minute to think back... to a time in your past when you started a diet.  Where are you today in comparison to where you started back then?  Any better?  Probably not, so this time make a different choice.  Choose healthy over skinny.  Decide to work on your health and on feeling better.  This is more about changing habits.  If you make positive and sustainable changes you will get lasting results.  If you go back to your old ways you go back to your old waistline.

This blog post is part of a small series I am creating called Healthy vs. Skinny.  Over the next couple months I will be diving in deeper and sharing more on this subject (but don't worry, you will still get recipes too).

I'll see your inbox next week with my plant happy Gumbo recipe.  Just in time for Fat Tuesday!

Take care of yourself,


P.S. If you would like to learn more on this subject please contact me.  I would love to be a part of your healing journey, whether it is just answering questions for you along the way or if you would like to work with me one on one.

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It probably isn’t surprising that some of my favorite gifts involve eating.  Truffles are the perfect little sweet treat to package up and give your friends and family. 

This year I made some of my lovely friends a mixed box of truffles including Dark Chocolate Peppermint, Strawberry Cream, Coconut and my new recipe for these Dark Chocolate Satsuma Truffles.

Any type of orange or citrus could be used for this recipe but I chose the Satsuma for a very special reason.  My father has a Satsuma tree on his property in Florida and I was lucky enough to receive a box full!  After doing a little research on these sweet and juicy citrus fruits I found out the Satsuma is sometimes even call the Christmas Orange.  What could be more perfect than that?!?!

I wanted these truffles to be very decadent with a creamy chocolaty orange center with a dark chocolate shell.   These truffles are easy to make and basically you blend the ingredients for the filling and then dip it in melted chocolate.


For the filling I use cashews and coconut oil as the base.  Dates are added to sweeten and then the zest and juice of a couple of Satsumas (or other citrus of choice) and some good quality cacao powder (unsweetened cocoa powder will work as well) are added.  All of the ingredients get blended together in a food processor until smooth and creamy.  Then I pop it in the freezer to set up a little bit.  Once hardened I scoop them into balls and coated with chocolate that was melted in a double broiler.


I hope you enjoy these truffles as much as I do! 

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night…..


Dark Chocolate Satsuma (Christmas Orange) Truffles
Makes about 12 truffles



1 cup cashews, soaked overnight

6 dates, seeds removed

3 tbsp coconut oil

Zest of 2 satsumas (about 1/2 tbsp), reserve a little for topping

Juice of 2 satsumas (about 1/3 cup)

2 tbsp cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)


1 cup dark chocolate chips or pieces


1. Put all of the filling ingredients in a food processor (reserving a little zest for topping).  Blend until smooth and creamy.

2. Move the filling into a shallow dish and put in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Once set up, use a tablespoon or melon baller to scoop into rounds.

4. Fill a sauce pan halfway with water.  Find a heat safe bowl that will sit over the top of the sauce pan.  Make sure the bowl is not touching the water in the pan and that there is no moisture in the bowl.  Pour the chocolate into the bowl and slowly melt it over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

5. Once the chocolate has fully melted turn the burner to low (you do not want to over heat the chocolate or it will start to crystalize).  Take one or two truffles at a time and drop them into the chocolate.  Flip them around until they are lightly covered and use a fork to remove them onto a parchement (or wax) paper lined sheet pan.  Continue until all truffles are covered.

6. While still warm top each truffle with a small pinch of zest.

Note:  These truffles are best stored in the fridge as they can get a little melty.  If refrigerated, enjoy for up to two weeks.

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Thanksgiving is almost here!  I have one more dish that would be a great addition to your holiday menu (it would also work great for Christmas). 

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across some delicata squash at a farmers market in Berkeley Springs.  I usually can't find them locally so I was super excited to plan  a meal around them.  I think they have a milder less sweet taste than acorn or butternut squash.  Although, either of them could be substituted in the dish.  For a "Friendsgiving" potluck I made it with acorn squash and it was just as delicious.  The cook time was just a little longer.


What really gives this salad great texture is the candied pecans.  I like to make mine with a bit of a kick so I add cayenne.  This is one of the healthier and simpler recipes for candying nuts.  I always make extra so I can snack on them.


The pomegranate seeds and arugula really add a brightness that goes so well with the roasted squash.  I finish it all off with a maple mustard vinaigrette.  


Above, I served it alongside my Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts.  What healthy additions will you be adding to your Thanksgiving spread this year?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!


Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Pomegranate and Candied Pecans
Serves 4


1 cup pecans

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp cayenne

2 delicata squash

1-2 tbsp olive oil

5 oz arugula

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

salt, to taste


1 tbsp dijon mustard (I prefer coarse ground)

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp Champagne or white wine vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup water

salt, to taste

pepper, fresh ground, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Toss the pecans with the maple syrup, cayenne and a pinch of salt.  Spread out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-14 minutes.  Until brown and crispy but be careful not to burn.  Once done, set aside to cool.

3. Turn oven to 400°.

4. Cut the squash in half, through the middle (not end to end).  Scoop out all the seeds.  Cut into 1/3 inch slices.

5. Layout slices on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

6. Bake for 25 minutes. 

7. Add all the dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.

8. After 25 minutes, pull the squash out of the oven and flip the slices.

9.  Return to oven for another 20 minutes or until both sides are browning nicely.

10. Toss arugula with 3 tbsp of the dressing.

11. Top the arugula with the squash, pomegranate seeds, pecans and another 3 tbsp of the dressing. 

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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.