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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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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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Mar 15, 2016


Spring is almost here!  The clocks have sprung forward and the days are getting longer.  Our bodies are starting to feel the energy of the seasons changing.  

I don't know about you but I am already starting to crave brighter and lighter foods.  My lunches have turned from warm dishes and soups to fresh salads.  Do you feel it too?  This vegetable packed salad is a wonderful addition to your weekly menu!


There are so many variations of this salad as well.  Feel free to switch out any of the veggies or legumes (beans) to your favorite or with whatever you have on hand.  If you choose to go soy free, switch out the edamame with green peas or leave them out all together. You could add a south of the border twist by substituting black beans, corn, cilantro and avocado (which is super delicious, by the way).  Think of this as a template recipe with endless possibilities! 


If you have any questions about a certain ingredient, please let me know.  I am happy to help :)

Wishing you bright sunny days, 


Colorful Quinoa Salad
3 to 4 servings


1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/2 cup edamame, shelled
1/2 red bell pepper, small dice
2 green onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced (or 6-8 baby carrots)
1/2 cups (1 can) chickpeas
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil


1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and set aside to cool.

2. Thaw or cook edamame for 5 minutes in simmering water to cover.  Drain and set aside.

3. In a large bowl add red bell pepper, green onions, carrots, chickpeas, parsley and cooled edamame.

4. In a small bowl mix together all ingredients except olive oil.  Once combined, slowly drizzle oil in while stirring.

5. Fluff quinoa and add to the bowl of vegetables.  Pour dressing over the top and stir until thoroughly combined.

6.  For best result let the salad sit for 30 minutes before consuming. 


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Thanksgiving is almost here!  I have one more dish that would be a great addition to your holiday menu (it would also work great for Christmas). 

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across some delicata squash at a farmers market in Berkeley Springs.  I usually can't find them locally so I was super excited to plan  a meal around them.  I think they have a milder less sweet taste than acorn or butternut squash.  Although, either of them could be substituted in the dish.  For a "Friendsgiving" potluck I made it with acorn squash and it was just as delicious.  The cook time was just a little longer.


What really gives this salad great texture is the candied pecans.  I like to make mine with a bit of a kick so I add cayenne.  This is one of the healthier and simpler recipes for candying nuts.  I always make extra so I can snack on them.


The pomegranate seeds and arugula really add a brightness that goes so well with the roasted squash.  I finish it all off with a maple mustard vinaigrette.  


Above, I served it alongside my Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts.  What healthy additions will you be adding to your Thanksgiving spread this year?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!


Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Pomegranate and Candied Pecans
Serves 4


1 cup pecans

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp cayenne

2 delicata squash

1-2 tbsp olive oil

5 oz arugula

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

salt, to taste


1 tbsp dijon mustard (I prefer coarse ground)

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp Champagne or white wine vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup water

salt, to taste

pepper, fresh ground, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Toss the pecans with the maple syrup, cayenne and a pinch of salt.  Spread out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-14 minutes.  Until brown and crispy but be careful not to burn.  Once done, set aside to cool.

3. Turn oven to 400°.

4. Cut the squash in half, through the middle (not end to end).  Scoop out all the seeds.  Cut into 1/3 inch slices.

5. Layout slices on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

6. Bake for 25 minutes. 

7. Add all the dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.

8. After 25 minutes, pull the squash out of the oven and flip the slices.

9.  Return to oven for another 20 minutes or until both sides are browning nicely.

10. Toss arugula with 3 tbsp of the dressing.

11. Top the arugula with the squash, pomegranate seeds, pecans and another 3 tbsp of the dressing. 

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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.