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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

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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Jul 23, 2014

Believe it or not, this is better than the real thing.  

Are you familiar with Tempeh?  If not, you are in for a treat.  I’m not going to lie to you; Tempeh is a little odd looking at first.  It took me a while to actually buy it.  I can’t tell you how many times I had it in my cart at the grocery store and then would put it back on the shelf before checking out.  One day, I decided I had to give it a try and I’m so very glad I did.

Tempeh is a cultured soybean product originating from Indonesia.  By fermenting the beans, they release their phytic acid, and it becomes easier to digest all the good nutrients the legume has to offer.  Other ways to release phytic acid from beans, grains, seeds and nuts is to soak or sprout.  Tempeh is sometimes made with the addition of seeds and grains.  They are delicious as well, but for this recipe plain soybean tempeh is preferred.  Tempeh is also very nutritious.  It has high levels of protein, calcium, manganese, fiber and more.  Oh, and always, I mean ALWAYS, buy organic.  If it’s not organic you can bet it is GMO and you do not want to eat it.  I will go into my thoughts on GMOs at a later date but for now back to the tempeh….

For this recipe I prefer to steam the tempeh.  Steaming makes it more tender and also gives it a little milder flavor, which is ideal for this dish.  I just toss it into a steamer basket but you can use any steaming method you prefer.  

While steaming the tempeh mix up the “dressing” or vegan mayo, either description will suffice.  Blend the soaked cashews, water, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, agave, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper until a smooth consistency is reached.

Once, the tempeh has steamed and cooled a bit, cut into small pieces.  Then mix with the dressing and diced red onion. 

Serve on bread as a sandwich or get creative and scoop it inside a tomato or avocado. It is really delicious with the avocado!  Which is why I chose to serve it that way here.

Ever used tempeh before?  Or excited to try a new ingredient?  Please let me know in the comments.  I would love to hear from you!

Tempeh "Tuna" Salad
Serves 4


1 package tempeh (7 oz. / 200 g)

1/2 cup raw cashews

3 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp agave

1 garlic clove

1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (I use coarse ground)

salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup red onion, diced small


1. Soak the cashews.  (Overnight is recommended but four hours will suffice)

2. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes.  Once cooled enough to handle, cut into small cubes, about 1/8 inch cubes.  Set aside.

2. Drain the cashews then add them to a blender or a food processor with water, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, agave, dijon mustard, salt and pepper until it has reached a smooth consistency.  

3. In a bowl, mix the tempeh, diced red onion and cashew mixture until everything is thoroughly combined.  

4. Serve on bread, in a hollowed out tomato, scooped on top of an avocado, or on your choice of greens.

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Welcome everyone!  I am so happy to have you here.  It has taken me a long time to get to this point and I have had wonderful help and support along the way.  I am so excited to introduce you to Verdure’s online headquarters at  This is the space where I will share plant-based, nutrient dense foods, for people who want healthier (and happier) lives.  What got me to this point?  Well I’m so glad you asked…

My healthy journey started about 5 years ago…  I was in culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu Dallas and part of the curriculum was a course on nutrition (probably one of the worst ever) but it got me interested and I felt the need to learn more.  I picked up a couple books and went from there.  By the time I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu my diet was starting to change and I knew I didn’t want to cook food that made people sick.  I was pretty disenchanted that I spent all this time in a French culinary school with the main focus on meat and dairy.  Health was never even a consideration.  I decided not to pursue a culinary career at the time.

Over the next few years my interest in health and nutrition grew.  I was reading new books and watching documentaries often.  I had gotten back in the kitchen and was experimenting with new cooking techniques.  I had a great job that gave me the resources to go on adventures all over the world.  Including a three month stay in France!  But as time went on I could tell something was missing and I knew I would never be truly fulfilled by the work I was doing.  I was slowly drawn back to the world of food.  Not just any food, healthy plant-based food.  After much pondering and some soul searching I enrolled at The Academy of Healing Nutrition in NYC.  For almost a year I traveled to New York one weekend a month and learned about theories that were completely new to me: the basics of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Macrobiotics and so much more.

A whole new world was opening up.  I was finally seeing my culture's relationship with food and diet from another perspective and it made me understand why we, as a culture, are overweight and sick.  I knew I wanted to do something to help others come to this realization as well.  To understand that most of the food American’s eat is toxic and they don’t even know it!

I continued my culinary education with Chef Mark Reinfeld of Vegan Fusion with classes in Portland, OR and Miami, FL.  I will continue my passion to learn and grow in both food and nutrition and am very excited for you to travel on this journey with me.  I hope to help you make positive decisions in your life.  I know you can feel better! 

If you would like to start making positive changes now please sign up for my newsletter and you will be the first to know about new blog posts, specials and more. 

If you have any questions feel free to drop me a line (here) or leave a comment below!

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Wellness wishes,


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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.