Food & Drink

La Onda

Owner Taran Rowe on re-thinking snacks

Taran Rowe with La Onda spreads. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER

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.

Why almonds?

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.




Contributor at Good Times |

Aaron is a hard-working freelance writer with a focus on music, art, food, culture and travel. In addition to Good Times, he's a regular contributor to Sacramento News & Review, VIA Magazine and Playboy. When he's not working, he's either backpacking, arguing about music or working on his book about ska. One thing's for sure—he knows more about ska than you.

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