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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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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


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


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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Sometimes being a creative entrepreneur (and now blogger) can be difficult.  I feel like I always need to be inspired.  Although, this isn’t always the case.  As I am preparing to launch this website I try to be open to inspiration no matter where I am and what I’m doing.  So the other day I was reading my fiancé's Outside Magazine while sitting in the infrared sauna at my acupuncturist’s office.  I am too scared to take my kindle in there for some reason so I steal magazines instead.  

While flipping through it I came across a recipe and I instantly knew I wanted to veganize it.  The original recipe was created for the U.S. Soccer Team and the cholesterol filled version was served to them during training and their time in Brazil.  I decided to give this recipe a full plant-based makeover and share it with all of you.

I love a good tofu scramble and am always looking for ways to switch it up.  This version with quinoa and hollandaise is a delicious change!

You can start by preparing the quinoa. 

Another way I switched up the recipe is switching from roasted asparagus to a water sauté.  It’s too hot in the summer to have the stove and the oven going at the same time so I try to pick one.  A water sauté is a nice method to learn.  All I do is chop the asparagus and throw it in the sauté pan with a couple of tablespoons of water until it turns bright green.  A great way to cut down on fat from an oil based sauté.

In a large bowl I add the quinoa, asparagus and diced tomato.  Then in the same pan I cooked the asparagus in I add the scramble ingredients: crumbled tofu, tamari, cumin, lemon juice, turmeric, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper.

While the tofu is cooking I like to start mixing up the hollandaise sauce.  This is the best part!

In a small saucepan I add coconut oil, any unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use oat milk or homemade almond milk when it's on hand), lemon juice, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard and a pinch of cayenne.  I whisk it all together while it's heating up and mix up a little arrowroot slurry for thickening.  Once the mixture comes to a boil I drizzle in the slurry while whisking constantly.  After it starts to thicken the heat gets turned off.

Back to the bowl!  Add the cooked tofu scramble and one cup of hollandaise to the quinoa, asparagus, tomato mixture and stir it all up.  Now it is ready to serve.  I like to plate it up with an additional dollop of hollandaise.  Well, because, why not?  It’s healthy, plant-based and super delicious. 

Please let me know if you give this recipe a try!  You won’t be disappointed.

Quinoa Benedict Breakfast Scramble
Serves 4


1 cup quinoa

2 cups + 2 tbsp water

1/2 a bunch of asparagus (1 heaping cup), trimmed and chopped

1 large tomato, seeded and diced

1 container (14 oz.) tofu, drained well

1 tbsp tamari

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Pinch of turmeric

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the hollandaise:

2 tbsp coconut oil, unrefined

1 1/2 + 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, unsweetened

4 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tsp Dijon mustard

Pinch of cayenne

1 tbsp arrowroot powder


1. In a medium saucepan bring quinoa and water to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Turn heat off and let sit for 5 minutes.  

2. In a sauté pan over medium heat add chopped asparagus and 2 tbsp of water.  Sauté until the asparagus is tender and bright green.

3. Put the quinoa, asparagus and diced tomato into a large bowl.

4. In the same pan the asparagus was cooked in crumble the tofu and heat over medium-low.  As the tofu is heating add the tamari, cumin, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt and pepper.  Stirring occasionally until combined and heated through.  About 8 minutes.  Add to the bowl with the quinoa.

5. Hollandaise: In a small saucepan over medium heat add coconut oil, 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard and cayenne.  In a small bowl mix the arrowroot with 1/2 cup non-dairy milk until dissolved.  Once the mixture comes to a boil slowly drizzle in the arrowroot slurry while whisking constantly.  Once thickened, remove from heat.

6. Add one cup of the Hollandaise sauce to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

7.  Serve with an extra dollop of Hollandaise if desired. 

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Jul 23, 2014

If there is one lesson I would like to teach each and every one of you, it would be: read the ingredients!!  There are so many yucky things lurking in the food at the grocery store.  The best way to be aware is to simply read the back of the product.  People have no idea that anyone would ever think to add these things to their food and so they choose not to look.  I was grocery shopping with my dad about a year ago on vacation and, as usual, I was reading the labels and putting almost everything back.  I knew this wasn’t going to be my healthiest weekend ever but I still care about what is going into my body.  He kept asking “well, why did you put that back?”  And I would ask him how many ingredients should there be in orange juice?  The answer is definitely not twelve.  Or is sugar really necessary in beans?  He honestly (like most other people) had no idea about any of this. 

One product that always annoys me when I read the label is veggie stock.  It never fails that there is some ingredient in there I just don’t understand and is completely unnecessary.  Do I really need sugar in my stock?  Or three times the recommended daily amount of sodium?  Don’t get me started on the yucky preservatives and “natural flavor.”  No thank you! 

When the grocery store fails me (as it often does) it is time to get in the kitchen.  Especially when it is something as easy as stock and it’s practically free!

To start all you need is a bag or container that will go in the freezer.  I use (and reuse) a gallon size freezer bag.

I pull out the bag every time I am chopping vegetables and add all the scraps that are appropriate for a stock like onions, garlic, carrots, celery and fresh herbs (full list below) into the bag and then toss it back in the freezer. 

Once it gets about ½ to 3/4’s full you throw it in a large stockpot cover with water and bring to a boil.  Once it’s boiling, turn it down and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.  Let it cool and then you can strain and store it.  It will last for up to a week in the refrigerator or you can fill ice trays and once frozen, move them to a container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

It is always nice to have homemade stock around.  It is great to add into recipes in place of water for extra flavor and you know it is all healthy since you know exactly what’s inside!

What to add: onions (peels and all), carrots and celery should make up the largest part of your veggies.  It is also great to include scraps from garlic (peels and ends), parsley, leeks, scallions, fennel, chard, lettuce, potato, parsnip, mushrooms, herbs and even beet greens.

What to leave out:  broccoli*, asparagus*, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and artichokes.  These vegetables can be bitter and take over the taste of the stock.  Also, do not use any vegetables that are way past their prime.  Nothing spoiled or rotten.

*Note: You can use broccoli or asparagus if you don't mind the end result tasting distinctly like them.  It is best to add these vegetables when using the stock for an asparagus or broccoli soup.

Vegetable Stock
Makes 8 to 10 cups


6 to 8 cups of vegetable scraps (refer to blog post)

10 to 12 cups of filtered water


1. Throw vegetable scraps and water into a large stockpot (around 8 quarts size) and bring to a boil. 

2. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.  

3.  Turn heat off and strain the stock.  

4. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze in ice trays and once frozen, move them to a container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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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.