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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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My generation (along with others) often think our food comes from the grocery store.  Sometimes we are so far removed from our food it is hard to understand it comes from the earth.  I think it is an exciting challenge to work on cutting out as many middle-men as possible.  For instance, buying at the farmers market, directly from the farmer is only one degree of separation.  If you then, take a look at the supermarket you have no idea how many hands your food has gone through.  You don’t even know how long ago it was picked from the ground to start its long journey.  Another method of attaining food is wild foraging*.  These lovely Chanterelle mushrooms were foraged by a friend and given to us. 

I first fell in love with Chanterelle mushrooms while I was on an extended stay in France.  Many of the restaurants would serve them up in delicious dishes and they always had this slightly sweet taste which makes them so unique.  The mushroom lady at the Cours Saleya (the large open air market in Nice, France) would often have large piles of this apricot scented mushroom.  In France, they are known as Girolles so it took me a while to figure out they were indeed the same as the Chanterelles we find in this country. 

With these Chanterelles I knew I wanted to make something special.  Something reminiscent of my time in France.  The dish I came up with is perfectly rich and creamy but with these healthy swaps it still feels rather light.  The Fricassée I made here is a white wine cream sauce with stewed mushrooms.  It gets its creaminess from cashews and it is well worth a try. 

If you have a hard time finding Chanterelles in your area you can always swap them for whatever mushroom you have on hand.  Portobellos, criminis, shitakes or even button mushrooms would work in this dish.  If you choose not to cook with wine you could use vegetable stock instead.  I chose to use quinoa noodles in this dish but use whatever pasta you prefer.  Brown rice pasta is another good gluten-free option.

*Always do proper research before eating foraged foods.  Make sure you know they are safe.

Fricassée de Chatarelles
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp sesame oil, separated

2 to 3 cups of Chantarelle Mushrooms

8 oz. gluten-free fettucine (I used Ancient Harvest Quinoa Noodles)

1 onion, sliced in half moons

3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 cup white wine

1 tsp fresh thyme, rough chop

1 tsp fresh oregano, rough chop

3/4 cup cashews, soaked 4 to 12 hours

Water, as need

Salt and pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Wash and soak the Chatarelles for 30 minutes.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions.

3. Drain cashews and add them to a blender or food processor with 4 tbsp of water.  Blend together and slowly add more water as needed.  Stop when a smooth creamy consistency has been reached.  Set aside.

4. In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until soft and starting to brown.  Around 4 to 5 minutes.

5. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.

6.  Gently add the white wine to the pan and bring it to a boil.  Cook until liquid is reduced by half.  About 4 to 5 minutes.

7. Chop the mushrooms into large pieces (if needed) and add to the pan with 1 tbsp of sesame oil.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are softening and lightly golden.  About 5 minutes.

8.  Stir in the cashew cream, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until everything is combined and heated through.

9.  Serve over pasta. 

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Jul 30, 2014

I love almond butter.  It is one of my favorite things.  I use it in everything from sweet desserts and breakfasts to savory dinners.  I even take single serve packs with me pretty much everywhere I go.  It’s perfect for traveling or long hikes when you need a little pick-me-up.  It goes great with just about anything, in my opinion.  This morning I wanted to switch up my breakfast routine but I still needed to appease my almond butter craving.  Enter almond butter pudding.

This pudding is a great template recipe.  Once you have the banana chia combination there are so many possibilities.  You can switch the almond butter out with peanut butter or any other nut/seed butter.  You could also emit it completely and add another fruit puree or cacao powder.  There are many other variations as well.  This recipe is a great breakfast and also as a kid-friendly snack!

I started with a base of almond butter, almond milk and a banana.  All you have to do is mash it together with a fork until it is fully combined.  Sometimes I even mix it up in the Vitamix if I want it extra creamy.  A fork is fine if you don’t mind little bits of banana still in there.  Next, I mix in the chia seeds and let them sit for a few minutes.  The chia seeds really give it that nice pudding texture when they start absorbing some liquid.  Now your pudding is ready to eat or it can sit overnight.  Right before serving I add whatever toppings I have around.  Today it was some sprouted ground flax seed, a handful of blueberries and a pinch of cinnamon.  Delicious! 

In the comments below, let me know which combinations you would like to try!

Almond Butter Pudding
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

1 banana

2 tbsp almond butter (or peanut butter)

3 tbsp almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)

1 tbsp chia seeds

½ tbsp flax seeds, ground (optional)

1 small handful of blueberries

Dash of cinnamon (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. With a fork or in a blender mash bananas, almond butter and almond milk together.

2. Stir in chia seeds and let sit for 10 minutes or up to 24 hours.

3. Top with flax seeds, blueberries and cinnamon. 

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Jul 23, 2014

I love, I mean LOVE, farmers markets.  One of the first things I do when planning a trip is to find out where the local farmers market is and plan my trip around visiting it.  The only problem with farmers markets (at least where I currently live) is they are only open for a few months out of the year, and during those months, one day out of the week.  For this reason I am so excited I stumble upon one of my favorite farms produce stand the other day.  What’s even more exciting is that it is open every day of the week!  Yes, I will still make my weekend runs to the farmers market but now I have an option to buy local in the middle of the week.  You don’t even know how happy this makes me! 

A couple of days ago I went by to get some produce for dinner and to my excitement they had freshly picked cherries.  I bought a pint and was trying to decide if I should just sit down and eat them all at one setting or come up with a new fresh recipe.  You can probably guess that I chose the latter.

It’s funny, as a child I didn’t even like cherries.  I guess I assumed they all tasted like the super sweet, maraschino cherries that came out of a jar.  Yuck!  Luckily, I came around and tried them again.  They are now one of my favorite summer treats.  Especially, the yellowish red Rainier variety.  They may not be cheap but they are well worth it when they are in season.  On this day the market only had Bing cherries and I was plenty happy with these. 

My culinary skills typically focus on the savory side of things.  I am not usually a huge "sweets" person and I have never been good at baking.  Not patient enough I guess.  But I felt like this was the perfect opportunity for me to make a dessert.  What’s better than fresh local cherries in a dessert?  Not much. 

I decided I would make a crumble with ripe juicy cherries!  I wanted to add a little pop of brightness so I pulled out some lemons to accent the sweet cherries. 

I started by halving and pitting the cherries.  If you have a cherry pitter feel free to use it but I just do it the old fashioned way.  Cut around the cherry with a paring knife and pop out the seed.  When they are ripe it is really easy to do.  Then I add them to a bowl with the juice and zest of a lemon and finish it off with some maple syrup for some extra sweetness. 

In a separate bowl I add gluten-free rolled outs, cinnamon and coconut oil.  Then you just mash it together with your hands so the coconut oil melts slightly and it becomes a crumbly texture. 

Next, I coat my two petite tart dishes with coconut oil, fill them with the cherry mixture and top with the crumble.  Then they get popped into the oven until they are bubbling over the sides and crisp on top.  Mini ramekins could also be used for this recipe.  It would make four smaller portions.

I just love the combination of cherry and lemon.  Not too sweet and just the right amount of tartness makes this crumble sophisticated enough to serve at a dinner party.  You should definitely try this one at home!

What is your favorite way to eat fresh summer cherries?  Drop me a line in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you!

Lemon Cherry Crumble
Serves 2 or 4

INGREDIENTS

2 cups of cherries, halved and pitted

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup gluten-free rolled oats

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3+ tbsp coconut oil, unrefined

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Coat two 5" tart dishes or four mini ramekins with coconut oil.

2. In a bowl combine cherries, lemon zest, lemon juice and maple syrup.

3. In another bowl combine oats, cinnamon and 3 tbsp coconut oil.  Use your hands or a fork to mix it together.  I recommend using your hands so the warmth can melt the coconut oil just enough to make it all crumbly.

4. Pour the cherry mixture into the tarts or ramekins and top with the oat mixture.  Place onto a parchement lined baking sheet.

5. Bake for around 30 to 35 minutes until the cherry filling is bubbling and the topping is starting to brown.

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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.