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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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I always thought chocolate making was super complex and you had to have just the right finesse and patience (which I don't have much of) to get beautiful chocolate.  In culinary school we practiced the art of tempering chocolate and it was way to tedious too interest me. 

I always read ingredients on the chocolate bars I purchase and the more I read the more I realized that you could make your own with a few simple ingredients without all the temperature checking.  So I dove in to figuring it out.  It didn't take long and this simple three ingredient bark was born.  It has the perfect amount of sweetness mixed with the delicate bitterness of good cacao.


You can top the bark however you would like but for a pretty Valentine's Day inspired version I like to add freeze dried raspberries, goji berries, rose petals and almond slivers.  Feel free to choose whatever your heart desires!  You can add any variety of seeds, nuts, dried fruit and edible flowers for something a little extra fancy. 


Set up a double broiler.  Put a small amount of water in the bottom of a small sauce pan and place a heat safe bowl inside it but make sure it is not touching the water.  Place over medium-low heat and add cacao butter to bowl.


Stir occasionally until melted.  Add cacao powder and maple syrup.


Stir until combined and smooth.  Remove from heat.


Place parchment paper in an 11"x7" container (or similar) pour the chocolate mixture in.


Sprinkle your toppings evenly over the chocolate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


Remove from fridge and break into pieces. 


Sending love and chocolate,


Valentine's Day Chocolate Bark


1 cup cacao butter
1/2 cup cacao powder*
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 to 2 tbsp each: rose petals, freeze dried raspberries, goji berries and slivered almonds


1. Set up double broiler: place a small amount of water in a small saucepan.  Put a heat safe bowl on top of the pan.  Make sure it does not touch the water. 

2. Add cacao butter to bowl and put the double broiler over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

3. Once melted add cacao powder and maple syrup to bowl.  Stir until well combined and remove from heat.

4. Place parchment paper in an 11"x7" container.  Pour chocolate mixture over parchment paper. 

5. Sprinkle toppings over the chocolate.**

6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

7.  Break apart into desired sized pieces. 

Notes: *Cacao powder is a less processed version of cocoa powder.  You could probably make this recipe with cocoa powder if that is what you have on hand but I have not tried it.  **You can put the chocolate in the refrigerator for about 8 to 10 minutes before you add the toppings if you want them to be sitting more on top instead of sinking into the chocolate.  

Equipment needed: small saucepan, heat safe small bowl, heat safe spoon or whisk, measuring spoons and cups, 11"x7" container (I used a pyrex) or similar, parchment paper and a refrigerator. 

 *This post contains affiliate links.  They are in bold.  I only share products I love and use on a regular basis.  If you are interested in seeing what products I use and recommend simply click the word(s) in bold.  If you are moved to buy it, I will receive a small commission that helps support this blog and other projects I am working on.  Thank you for your support!

Products used for this recipe:

Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Cacao Powder, 1 Pound
Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Cacao Butter, 1 Pound (Raw, Keto, Vegan Friendly)
NOW Foods Organic Maple Syrup,Grade A Dark Color (formerly Grade B), 32-Ounce
If You Care Parchment Baking Paper, 2 Pack
Pyrex Basics 2 Quart Glass Oblong Baking Dish with Red Lid - 7 inch x 11 Inch
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Jan 02, 2018


Happy New Year!  One of my intentions for this year is to be of service to others.  The best way I can do that is to use my gifts and knowledge.  I have spent the better part of the last decade learning to cook, nourish my body and figuring out how to make delicious foods that are both healthful and good for the planet.

I will be sharing processes, template recipes and how tos on here and on my new Instagram account @routewellacademy!  If you have a specific technique you would like to learn or a recipe you would like transformed into a healthier version please let me know!  I would love to help you on this journey.

Today, I am sharing this delicious coconut butter.  It is as simple as it is delicious.  All you need is a food processor or high speed blender.

First, you measure your shredded coconut and put it in your food processor.


Next, turn the processor on and let it run for about 15 to 20 minutes, stopping every couple of minutes to scrape down the sides.


It is done when it is a creamy consistency and there are no flakes left. 


Coconut butter is great to use in desserts, smeared on toast for breakfast, by the spoonful and so much more!

This method is also great for nut and seed butters like my Cinnamon Almond Butter.


Never stop learning, 


Coconut Butter
Makes about 1 cup


4 cups shredded coconut


1. Add the shredded coconut to the bowl of a food processor.

2. Turn on your food processor and let it run for 15 to 20 minutes.  Stopping to scrape down the sides every couple of minutes. 

3. It is done when it becomes a creamy consistency and there are no more flakes. 

*This post contains affiliate link.  They are in bold.  I only share products I love and use on a regular basis.  If you are interested in seeing what products I use and recommend simply click the word(s) in bold.  If you are moved to buy it, I will receive a small commission that helps support this blog and other projects I am working on.  Thank you for your support!

Products used for this recipe:

Organic Shredded Coconut
Food Processor
Vitamix E310 Blender
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This holiday season is turning out to be a busy one.  We are hosting at our new home with both sides of the family and are super excited to share the joy of Fitz's first Christmas.  I wish you all a very happy holiday and I hope this salad is a great addition to all of the festivities and I'll leave you with one of my favorite tips that helped me on the road but is also great for holiday parties.

My philosophy on life is always to enjoy.  For a healthy lifestyle to stick it can't come with too many sacrifices and you must find some balance that works for you.  One way I do this is start meals, especially of the "cheating" variety, with a big green salad.  Even if the rest of the meal turns towards the not so good at least you have gotten some nutrient dense goodness in.  It also helps you not to over indulge.  It can take up space so you are less tempted to get seconds on that big bowl of queso, stuff your face with fried foods, eat a dozen cookies or whatever your indulgences may be. 

Eat your yummy salad and then go enjoy life.  My recommendation- make this salad and carry it around with you.  Okay, kind of joking, but it does make a great addition to wherever you are invited this holiday weekend.  Enjoy!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season,


Persimmon Pomegranate Salad with a Maple Mustard Dressing


2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
5 oz mixed baby greens
1 Fuyu Persimmon, sliced
handful pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup pecans, toasted

1. Whisk or stir the first four ingredients together in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Slowly drizzle olive oil in while stirring.

2. Toss the greens with dressing, to taste, you may not want all of it.

3. Top with persimmon slices, pomegranates and pecans.

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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.