If some folks feel that a vegan option is limiting, they haven’t been looking hard enough—especially in Santa Cruz.
La Onda is a completely vegan, healthy snack that owner Taran Rowe envisioned as an alternative to hummus. The spreads are almond-based, and she’s finding that they can be used on lots of different foods. She offers a couple of tasty flavors for folks (vegans or otherwise) to sample. We asked Rowe about the Santa Cruz-based product, which can be found at various grocery stores and farmers markets around the county.
What’s La Onda mean?
TARAN ROWE: La Onda means “the curve of the ocean wave.” It also means “new wave.” It’s an inspiration behind my product. It’s a new wave of snacking. I developed the product while I was living in Central Mexico. I took a year and a half off and moved down there. I got really into food and vegan snacking. That’s kind of how this came about.
Almonds are one of my favorite nuts. I feel like they have a really unique, neutral taste. I’m also interested in how they have all these heart-healthy benefits. I’m a big believer in good fat, and almonds are packed with good fats and vitamin E. It blends really well with all the over-savory ingredients.
Your website says you are ‘re-inventing the way we look at food.’ Explain.
I’m the kind of person, like most of American culture, that’s really big on snacking. So I feel like I wanted to put something out there really thoughtfully creative. I have my ingredients listed at the top of the container. It’s one of the first things you look at, exactly what’s in your snack. I feel like with a lot of snacks, the ingredients are kind of hidden on the side. I also think the word “vegan” gets a bad rap. People can use this with their veggies or their crackers. Through the process of making this, I’ve had a lot of feedback from customers that are using it as pizza sauce, pasta sauce, salad dressing. It was originally created as a hummus alternative for dip. It’s also great as a dairy substitute. You can use it instead of mayo. It has a fun texture, so it adds a crunch. Put it in pasta. It’s also really spreadable and creamy.
What are your flavors?
Right now, I have three flavors in most of my stores: roasted garlic, original and habanero. I have one that’s kind of a seasonal flavor, a sesame ginger flavor. Also, in different seasons, I’ll make whatever’s in stock at the farmers markets. Sometimes I’ll create a flavor around that. The original, I would describe it as the perfect blend of a hummus and a vegan cheese. It’s a little more creamy in comparison to a hummus, but has the cheesy, bold flavor.