Category Archives: Snacks

Goodness Graze-ness

It’s 4pm as I type this and I just snuck a cookie into my mouth. A delicious, dark chocolate-covered cookie. Aren’t snacks the greatest?! I love snacks. They can be sweet or savory, crispy or gooey, eaten with a spoon or your fingers.


Now you can call me the laziest person ever, but I’m a snack subscriber. Literally. A friend gave me a hard time about this (HI, SARAH!), but I have to say that I have been loving my experience with graze, which is a service that sends snacks right to your mailbox weekly, every other week, or monthly.

Calm down – this isn’t a sponsored post. I just like graze that much and it would be unfair for me to talk about snacks without mentioning them! And if you’re curious, then click on any of the graze links in this post to get your 1st and 5th box free. No commitment required at all so you can cancel after you get your 1st box.

I love graze because I get four different snacks in every box, each is the perfect portion, and you can specify dietary restrictions, including vegan (which I haven’t opted into just yet… let’s be real… but I do declare myself a vegetarian). I have found that it’s different from other snack subscription services because each snack is the perfect portion for one sitting and they travel well – which is a huge plus for me since I’m often jetting off somewhere and pack snacks as if I will end up on a deserted island with zero food.


Here’s my latest box. Three out of the four snacks are 100% vegan. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the package itself is smaller than a sheet of paper (approx 6 1/2 x 9 inches) and about one inch thick. It fits right into most mailboxes or PO boxes and can easily be mistaken for non-food.

This box’s snacks were:

  • Smoky chipotle dip with rosemary breadsticks – interesting
  • Berries and cream gelato – yum! but not vegan
  • Lightly salted popcorn – who doesn’t love popcorn?
  • Salt & vinegar nut selection – perfect right before that time of the month, ya hear me, ladies?

So, okay. Popcorn and nuts are things I can easily buy and that in the long run cost me less than getting this box. But I’m the type of person who has no self control when it comes to delicious snacks, so I need the measured-out portions. I can also be very fickle so I end up with half a bag of uneaten nuts that I end up throwing away. I also can’t say enough about the variety. This is my 4th or 5th box and I haven’t had any duplicate snacks. Things like the dippers and fruity mixes are always really fresh and not necessarily easy to get in your local grocery store. I love graze for these reasons.

I did recently switch my subscription from every other week to monthly. I have found myself doing a better job of buying “fresh” snacks like hummus and raw fruits and veggies and not-so-healthy-but-yummy cookies so monthly seems more reasonable. It’s great to have the option to change the timing. You can also choose 8-snack variety boxes or opt to get only savory or only sweet. Top it all off with being able to rate your snacks and graze is a great user-friendly service!

Other things worth mentioning:

  • nutrition facts and full ingredient list is included with every box
  • a fun little tip sheet is also included
  • the web site itself is easy to use and mobile-friendly, but I wish they had an app. Get on that, graze!



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Purple Yam Fries

Purple Yams

Purple yams: WTF?! They are actually very commonly used in Filipino desserts. We call it ube (pronounced ooh-beh, but if you say “oob” we’ll still know what you’re talking about) and we put this stuff in cake and ice cream and a bunch of other stuff! This post on Jun-blog sums up how it’s used in Filipino cuisine and it’s worth the read!

Anyway, I’m not here today to talk about dessert. I am here to talk about an easy and slightly savory way to enjoy this fantastic freak of nature! And it truly is fantastic: In addition to being boldly colored, purple yams have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also a great source of vitamin A and, on a smaller scale, potassium and calcium.

Purple Yam Fries

Ube (Purple Yam) Fries

1 purple yam
2-3 tsp safflower or canola oil
salt and any other spices you desire, to taste

1. Set your oven to 425 degrees.

2. Bake the yam, whole, for 45-60 minutes, until tender.

3. Let it cool.

You can eat the yams now if you want, just take off the skin (which should come off easily, or the yam should slide right out of it easily) and chow down! Or, you can move on to the next step to make the fries.

4. With skin removed, slice the potato into strips or whatever shape you desire. They might give off a weird odor: this is normal!

5. Gently coat the pieces in the oil and spices. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake again for another 15-25 minutes, until crispy. Check on them halfway through and flip over the pieces.

6. Serve hot!

I enjoyed these guys plain: the natural sweetness and starchiness of purple yams require no embellishment aside from a sprinkle of salt. If you’re into dipping stuff, I would recommend vegan mayo or vegan mayo with Sriracha for a nice kick.

This was the first time I really cooked and enjoyed purple yams as a non-dessert. They’re so much fun. I’d love to make purple mashed potatoes, purple potato chips, and of course, vegan ube desserts.

I love versatile foods!


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Bosc Pears Are My Comfort Food

I had a moment recently when I felt hopeless and horrified and needed something to help me cope. No one died, it wasn’t any major, life-changing event. But I definitely needed something, I just wasn’t sure what that was yet. So I drove to the grocery store, thinking some cake would offer some temporary (if unhealthy) comfort. Then, it hit me… what I really needed was a Bosc pear! I just love these guys and that first bite immediately made me feel better. (For the record, I also bought cake. It made me feel gross.)

Bosc pear

Bosc pears are my ultimate comfort food. They are a true favorite of mine. I know this because these pears are something that I just happened to like as a little kid. It wasn’t something assigned to me because I ate it that one time and liked it. You know how it goes… you eat something and say it’s yummy and all of a sudden you’re known for liking that thing. I never sought it out, but I was always happy to eat it when we had some. They’re so sweet and juicy! And it has to be a Bosc pear. Other pears are merely weird-shaped apples to me.

Pears aren’t just delicious: they have health benefits, too! They’re a great source of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are a good thing. They’re also a good source of carbs and dietary fiber. I prefer to eats pears in their natural state, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy them:

  • Add them to salads
  • Make tarts or pies
  • Bake or poach them
  • Add them to cocktails (yum)
  • Give them kisses because they’re so good

Bosc pear

I would love to go a Bosc pear farm (orchard?), pick pears right from the tree and eat them. Add that to my bucket list!

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Made in Nature Review & Giveaway!

Welcome to the relaunch of Turning Veganese! We are celebrating by trying out fantastic products from Made in Nature that will please both vegans and non-vegans. My discovery of Made in Nature came at a perfect time: I’ve been working really hard to eat more cleanly along with exercising regularly. One of my favorite snacks is dried apricots, and Made in Nature has these and much, much more for anyone who wants a healthy and natural snack.

Made in Nature selects the freshest, finest organic fruit, picks them at their culinary peek, and dries them to pure perfection to capture all of the flavor you crave. How do we do it? We work with the most dedicated family of farmers to grow the best tasting, organic fruit on the planet to guarantee true ‘taste of place.’

Made in Nature

Made in Nature has products from dried fruit to pizza to fresh produce. We were lucky to have the chance to try out their dried bananas, pineapples and apricots (my favorite!) as well as two products from their new line of healthy snacks! So, how are they different from anyone else? Here’s a list:

  • All their products are organic
  • NO sugar added
  • NO sulfur-dioxide
  • NO artificial color or additives
  • NO artificial fertilizers or pesticides
  • NO gluten or nuts
  • NO GMOs

I had my best taste testers assist me. I’ll admit that I was worried: these kids love their sweets. But they also love fruit and were game to try everything!


Juliana was most interested in trying out the bananas. Now, I’ll admit that we was a little shocked when I opened the bag to find dark, dried banana pieces. I was expecting something that looked more like a banana chip but these were dark brown and chewy. Juju immediately put a whole piece in her mouth. “Interesting… mmmm, this is delicious!” I agree with my niece’s assessment. For any Filipinos out there, the taste and smell of this reminds me of turón!

Made in Nature

Jocelyn is a girl after my own heart, so she wanted to try the apricots. Again, these are much darker than a conventional dried apricot, but she did not hesitate at all in trying a piece (or 3). “These are really good!” I agree and can guarantee that the rest of the bag will go quick.

Made in Nature Dried Fruits

I tried a taste of the pineapple. Like the others, I really enjoyed the pineapple and especially enjoyed how much healthier it is than dried pineapple you’ll find anywhere else.

Finally, we all tried out the Fruit Fusion snacks. We sampled the Antioxidant Fusion and the Tropical Fusion.


The Antioxidant Fusion consists of cherries, blueberries, cranberries, raisins, goji berries and pepitas. Yum!!! It’s hard to believe that there is no sugar added to this mix. Same goes for the Tropical Fusion: bananas, pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, ginger and cacao nibs. I’ll state right now that cacao has definitely been an acquired taste for me, but this mix is tasty and beautiful. Both snacks hit the spot in terms of satisfying that mid-afternoon craving. The best part is that I don’t feel one bit guilty about it!


Do you want to try Made in Nature products? Duh. Of course you do! And thanks to the generosity of Made in Nature, you have the chance to win Made in Nature prizes. Be sure to read the rules of this giveaway carefully:

  1. Follow us on Twitter @turningvegan or on Instagram @turningveganese.
  2. To enter on Twitter, tweet about your healthy favorite snack and mention @turningvegan and @madeinnature and include #vegantvsnack.
  3. To enter on Instagram, post a photo of your favorite healthy vegan snack and mention @turningveganese and @madeinnature and include #vegantvsnack.

You MUST include both mentions and the hash tag in order to be eligible. You can enter on both sites to double your chances! The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 27 at 11:59pm Central Time and winners will be announced on Monday, July 28. P.S. By mentioning us, you are giving us permission to retweet or regram your photos. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

I hope you like the new (and improved, in my opinion) Turning Veganese! –Melissa

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Food Should Taste Good

Hello, Veganesers! It’s been quite some time since we have posted anything and, for that, we apologize. The good news is that life is happening! The bad news (for me, anyway) is that vegan relapses happen. I haven’t gone completely to the dark side — I’ve kept away from meat — but cheese and seafood had lured their way back into my mouth. Damn you, dairy cheese!!!

I could give a whole list of reasons for why I’ve not kept up so well with my vegan diet lately, but they really all boil down to two things: I’ve been lazy and I’ve been greedy about what I eat. What I need to do is remember why I ever decided to be vegan in the first place. And one of those reasons is that some of my favorite “junk” foods are vegan!


Food Should Taste Good makes awesome snacks. They have nearly 20 different varieties of tortilla chips with flavors like Harvest Pumpkin and Jalapeno. They also make kettle chips and crackers. My current favorite is their Olive tortilla chip which has kalamata olives baked right into the chip. It’s such good stuff! And it’s easily accessible since the cafe at work carries it. Best part: it’s vegan. And here’s more info from their site:

Are your chips certified vegan?

Most of our products are certified vegan by Vegan Action, with the exception of: Cheddar, White Cheddar, Chocolate and Jalapeño with Cheddar Tortilla Chips.

I’m hoping to have a lot more to share with you guys in the coming weeks. Along with talking about getting back on the vegan horse, I plan to blog about more products I love, adventures in dining out, weird vegan stuff I picked up at the Vietnamese market (vegan smoked tuna!), and, of course, new recipes. Stay tuned!

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Hail Merry Grawnola

I’m not often vocal about my decision to turn veganese for a few reasons. One, I’m not often in the mood to get into a discussion about why/how I made my choice. Two, once people know I’m vegan, my food choices get scrutinized (“PIZZA ISN’T VEGAN, YOU KNOW” or “That’s all you’re eating? How sad.”). A lot of the time, though, opening up about being vegan (or trying to be) can be a beautiful thing. I learn a lot, I get asked a lot of smart questions, and I get introduced to foods and products and other vegany things.

One of the people I enjoy discussing food with is someone I’ve mentioned before, my friend Joelen (read her blog already, it’s not vegan, but it’s great). She introduced me to my new favorite vegan snack, which I will now introduce to you:

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Hail Merry Grawnola!

I posted about Hail Merry’s Miracle Tart before. It was good, but I wasn’t really left wanting more. They have definitely hit it out of the ballpark with their Grawnola product, though.

Joelen brought me a couple bags of their orange cranberry blend. As you can see on the package, it’s raw, gluten-free, and vegan.
3.5_orangegraw_nutr_1The mix contains almonds, buckwheat groats, pecans, dried apples and cranberries, sunflower seeds, walnuts, flax seeds… and it’s flavored with maple syrup, orange juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt. It occurs to me that one would easily make this mix on their own, but I’m going to leave the mixing and dehydrating to the experts.

The Grawnola is much more exciting than plain nuts, satisfies my sweet cravings that usually have me reaching for chocolate, and is just plain fun to eat. I’ve only tried it straight out of the bag, but I imagine that it would be awesome with mixed in with vegan yogurt or ice cream.

Yum… ice cream… ahem.

It’s great when I’m having a snack attack or as a quick pick-me-up after an intense work out (read: leisurely walk on the treadmill).

Look for Hail Merry Grawnola in stores or buy directly from them on their web site. Hail Merry also has a great presence on Facebook, so go Like them.

Have you tried Hail Merry Grawnola? What do you think? –Melissa

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Epic Vegan Queso

We decided to take queso to the next level. Fortunately the preparation wasn’t epic; it is incredibly simple to make your own awesome queso at home.

You can start with Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso or any other pre-made vegan queso or make your own.

Take your vegan queso and combine it with the following:
1 15 ounce tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced and microwaved until soft
1 15 ounce tin of diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 package of Tofurkey soy Chorizo

Then we microwave it until it’s hot, stirring every thirty seconds. This is perfect for a gathering with friends, even omnivores!

This is Christie, signing off!

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May-king a Comeback!

Hi, Veganesers! It’s me, Melissa, coming back from… well, I never really left. But I haven’t been keeping up with the blog. Sadface. I have excuses — some are even valid — but this isn’t a confessional. It’s a blog about turning vegan.

Can you guys believe that it’s already May? I’m glad April is over. May 2012 brought a lot of great surprises and I’m hopeful that May 2013 will be the same. What I’m most excited about is that it finally feels like spring in Chicago. Outdoor Farmers Markets! Dining al fresco! Sunshine! Fresh garden veggies on the horizon! All that said, I still spend most of my time cooped up in the office. Luckily, I have provisions.

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Here are just some of the snacks I currently have at my desk:

The CLIF bar that’s hiding back there is my emergency snack, in case I don’t have time to get lunch or am about to hulk out from being so hungry.

The soy milk was given to me by my co-worker Joelen, who has her own food blog (it’s not vegan, but it’s wickedly awesome and she’s an awesome person so check it out). I’ll be opening it soon and using it for my morning cereal and afternoon coffee.

Last but not least are some dried mangoes that my Mom brought back from the Philippines. These are in every Asian market in Chicagoland, so you don’t need to fly to the Philippines to get them. Truth time (even though I did say that this isn’t a confessional): I used to hate these. In fact, when my Mom asked if she should bring some back, I replied, “Nah.” But I found myself craving these, so I brought a bag to work. They were so freaking delicious. Great alternative to gummy bears for anyone who is jonesing for one of those. Furthermore, my co-workers who hadn’t tried them before really liked them. I feel like they’re different enough from real mangoes to stand on their own as a vegan treat.

Not pictured but also currently at my desk are nuts, chips (sigh… chips… I can’t quit you), Biscoff spread, and granola bars. If I ever complain about being hungry at work, you have permission to slap me.

What snacks do you have at your desk or office? Let me know! It’s good to be back!!! –Melissa

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New Favorites!

I’ve been making more of an effort to bring food from home to work not only to save myself from eating junk but also to save some money. 2013 is no financial joke, you guys! Thankfully, I’ve added a few new items to my list of favorite portable foods.



Okay. So. Stonyfield O’Soy yogurt is not vegan. I realized that their cultures are milk-based after buying it. Ugh. Kind of a buzzkill, but O’Soy yogurt is still a decent alternative to other yogurts (is it just me or does everyone else in the world eat Chobani yogurt?) and definitely more nutritious than donuts or cookies that I find myself eating when I’m starving for a snack. For an actual vegan yogurt that is super delicious, try Amande! Christie uses Amande in a breakfast parfait which you can read about here. I usually add some flax meal and/or granola to my yogurt.

Speaking of granola, our friends at Cascadian Farm sent us a box of their new Berry Cobbler Granola. I love Cascadian Farm granola and go through it really quickly. I usually eat it as a cereal with some soy or almond milk and flax meal. It’s great with bananas or blueberries, too! Now, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new Berry Cobbler flavor. How would it be different from other granola with cranberries or blueberries in it? I don’t know how they did it, but Cascadian Farm concocted granola that actually tastes very much like berry cobbler!! So good and decadent that I find myself saving it for special days.

Finally, I bought a jar of Biscoff Spread when I saw it for $3.99 at Fresh Farms. I find that it pops up in a lot of my Internet searches for Vegan treats or snacks, but I always felt that it was too expensive to even try, so I snagged it when I saw it for under $5. The spread is made with Biscoff cookies. Right on the jar, they call it out as an alternative to peanut butter. (I personally see it as a non-chocolate vegan alternative to Nutella.) It looks very much like peanut butter, has the same texture and is packaged like peanut butter, but it’s got that unmistakable Biscoff cookie taste. It’s so good on toast! It’s on the sweet side. I wouldn’t recommend eating it with jam or even eating it with fruit. My perspective has definitely changed on the cost: it’s no more expensive than almond butter or “fancy” peanut butter. If I’m feeling adventurous enough, I might try making Biscoff donuts. DELICIOUS!

So, there you have it! These are some of my new favorite products. They’re delicious AND cost-effective and (mostly) vegan. –Melissa

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Potato Wedges with Aioli

Friends and family should be arriving soon so here’s a local and personal favorite for entertaining. We’ve got a lot of Spanish influence in Miami and something that they’ve created that’s right up my alley is Catalan Allioli or aioli. It’s a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, water and sometimes egg yolks. There won’t be anymore talk of eggs today.

I chopped some sweet potato (because it’s that time of year), yam and russet potato into wedges ranging from finger to thumb thickness and length. I tossed them in a mixture of the following:

2 tbsp corn oil (corn oil is important because it has a high flash point and won’t form carcinogenic substances as easily when baking at high temperatures)

1/2 tbsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 generous pinch of paprika

1 pinch of nutmeg

garlic salt to taste

I tossed the potatoes until they were coated with the spice and oil mix and them laid them out on a metal baking sheet lined with waxed paper. I baked them at 375F/190C for one hour.

While you’re waiting on your potatoes, it’s time to make some dipping sauce. I made 2 sauces.

One was my chipotle lime sauce and the other is the aioli. Combine the following:

1/2 cup of vegenaise

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

3-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp olive oil

It is possible to mix this in a food processor or blender but I don’t recommend it: it can be very thick and you’ll forever be scraping sauce off the walls of your blending device. Mix these well using a fork in a shallow dish, prepare for dipping satisfaction!

This is Christie, signing off!

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