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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,


Coconut Ginger Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4


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


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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Thanksgiving will be here before you know it and I can't tell you how excited I am to enter our first holiday season with our son.  He makes the holidays seem a little bit cheerier!  Last year I was in such an odd place of the unknown that I didn't really get to enjoy it.  Basically, we had just quickly wrapped up our life on the road, were homeless and staying between family members houses and jobless with a baby on the way.  Not to mention all the emotions that come with being pregnant.  This year I plan on making up for my lack of enthusiasm last year!

We are already decorating the house and planning our Christmas festivities.  Before I get ahead of myself, let's be thankful!  This year we are attending two Thanksgivings feasts (luckily, not on the same day) and I am still trying to decide what I would like to bring since we will be traveling quite a bit and time will be the main challenge.  One dish I am considering are my Green Beans with Roasted Mushrooms and Hazelnuts.

It is my observation that most people either love or hate the traditional green bean casserole but it is most definitely not healthy.  In the past I have come up with a healthy, from scratch version of this favorite but it is pretty time intensive.  The recipe below was shared on my Instagram page a couple of years ago but never made it to the blog so I figured this holiday season was the perfect time to share it!

This green bean dish has a wonderful combination of flavors and textures and only uses 5 ingredients (plus salt and pepper)!  The tamari roasted mushrooms really steal the show here.  They are super flavorful you will want to add them to all of your savory dishes.  (There is also a soy free version if you swap out the tamari for coconut aminos which I do quite often.)  You get the brightness from the green beans which are easily blanched for a couple minutes and tossed in the oven for five minutes.  No soggy beans here!  Last, but not least, you get this wonderful crunch from the toasted hazelnuts that just rounds the whole dish together.

If you are looking for a new twist on green beans to put on your holiday table, this recipe is for you!  Please let me know if you plan on trying this recipe.  I would love to hear from you in the comments below! 

Love and thanks, 


Green Beans with Roasted Mushrooms & Hazelnuts
Serves 4


1/2 lb mushrooms, thinly sliced*
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp tamari**
1 lb green beans, ends trimmed
1/2 cup hazelnuts
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Prepare a large sheet pan with parchment paper.  Pile the mushrooms into the middle of the pan and drizzle with the sesame oil and tamari (you can also do this in a bowl).  Toss to combine and spread out in one  thin layer.  Place the mushrooms in the oven and roast for 25 minutes or until they have shrunk down to half their size. 
3. While the mushrooms are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Toss the green beans in and cook until they are bright green, about 2 minutes.  Strain beans and rinse with cold water.  Shake off excess water.
4. When the mushrooms are ready, remove them from the oven and top with the green beans.  Toss to combine and place in the oven for another 5 minutes.
5.  Heat a small saute pan on medium heat and add hazelnuts.  Shaking the pan frequently so they do not burn.  Once they are browned and smelling fragrant, place on a cutting board.  Let cool for a couple minutes and then give them a rough chop.
6. Salt and pepper the green beans to taste.
7. Place the green beans and mushrooms on a platter and spread the hazelnuts over the top.
Notes: *I used crimini but shitake or button mushrooms would work too.  **For a soy-free version sub tamari for coconut aminos.

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As the seasons change so do the foods we eat.  Even if you don't realize there is a good chance you start eating pumpkin and other harvest delights, add in more cooked foods and eat less fresh greens and salads.  We naturally tend to make these adjustments even when we aren't paying attention.


The days are becoming shorter and the temperatures are starting to drop.  My breakfasts are becoming warmer and more nourishing.  I tend to lose the green juices and smoothies and trade them for porridge and oats.


Since we are currently living a little farther south the heat tends to linger a little longer.  There is just a hint of chill in the air but the days are still warming up so I have made the perfect healthy breakfast treat to take you from summer to fall.


Here is my Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl.  It is packed with flavor and will get you in the fall spirit as we watch the leaves start to change.  I love topping it with my Pumpkin Spice Granola.  It adds the perfect amount of crunch to the rich and creamy smoothie bowl.  I think you are going to love it!


Peace and fall y'all,


Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl
Serves 1 (easily doubled)


1/2 cup pumpkin puree*
1/2 frozen banana
handful of frozen cauliflower**
2 tbsp almond butter
1/4 cup (or more) almond milk
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp maple syrup (optional)


1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend.

2. Add more almond milk if needed.  One tablespoon at a time until you get a thick and creamy texture.  This is a smoothie bowl so you want it thick enough to hold toppings and eat with a spoon.***

3. Pour into a bowl and add your favorite toppings.  My favorites are my Pumpkin Spice Granola, coconut yogurt, cacao nibs, flax seeds and pecans!

Notes: *You can use canned or my homemade Pumpkin Puree. **For best results steam cauliflower before freezing.  If you want to omit cauliflower add more frozen banana. ***For a regular smoothie add more liquid until desired consistency is reached.

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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.