In the spirit of the series on vegetarianism and veganism, I thought it’d be nice to discuss some food options, particularly snacks. One of the largest obstacles to incorporating healthier eating practices is actually getting started and finding simple foods and/or meals to begin the transition. Keeping that in mind, a local business, Hail Merry, specializes in raw, vegan snacks. “Hail Merry snacks were created to turn more people onto the raw, vegan and gluten-free snack food world, as well as to redefine the notion of healthy snacking,” according to their site, http://www.hailmerry.com. All Hail Merry snacks are raw, vegan, and gluten-free. My family and I had the pleasure of sampling items from the entire line, which includes various nuts, gluten free tarts, macaroons, and granolas that they affectionately/smartly call ‘Grawnola’. Everything is beautifully packaged and I really appreciated that the macaroons, nuts, and grawnolas all come in resealable packaging.
Let’s start with the family favorite, the Merry’s Miracle Tart, specifically the Meyer Lemon flavor. The crust is just the right texture, a nice balance of density and crunch, softly nutty without being overpowering. The showstopper, however, is the Meyer lemon filling! It is sweet without being too syrupy, has the delicious full flavor of lemon without the harsh aftertaste… it was divine! I am a huge fan of lemon meringue pie, sans meringue, and I would definitely replace the old, sugary pie of old for this light tart. The chocolate raw almond butter tart was reminiscient of a Reese’s peanut butter cup; without all the sugar. The dark chocolate adds depth to the salty crunch of the almond butter center. When I cut into the chocolate tart, it kind of fell apart, but in it’s defense it had been in the refrigerator and probably would have fared better if allowed to sit out for a little while. This VegNews’ “Best of Show” award winner was tasty, but my family picks the Meyer lemon variety over it in a landslide.
Next were the raw macaroons which come in ‘Blonde’ and ‘Choco.’ Both, upon closer inspection, put me in the mind of a piece of pre-sectioned cookie dough; compact but promising deliciousness hides inside. I was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful yet light they were, especially since I’m not a huge coconut fan. Straight out of the refrigerator, the macaroons are very dense and actually feel like frozen cookie dough. If you let them sit out for 5 minutes or so, they simply melt in your mouth, the sweet taste of maple syrup mingling with the mild, flaky coconut. The thing I enjoyed the most about these was that the coconut wasn’t dry, leaving me feeling like I’d accidentally gotten feathers in my mouth. The ‘choco’ variety has a lovely dousing of dark cocoa and Mexican vanilla that is simply mouth-wateringly delicious. As evidenced by my three year old hiding several of the ‘Choco’ macaroons and munching on them after I thought the bag was gone, those too were a family favorite.
The Orange Cranberry grawnola was the next thing I tried. It was a challenge for my braces, but worth the effort. The sweet, savory scent of cinnamon pours out of the bag before a chunk of the mix emerges. It surrounds you almost as the rich flavor fills your mouth upon the first bite. The orange flavor, supplied by orange juice is faint and the cranberries were plentiful enough to justify it being called orange cranberry. I enjoyed a small handful by itself and the following day enjoyed the rest of the package in a small cup of vanilla yogurt. The vanilla mixed beautifully with the cinnamon nuttiness of the grawnola, plus it gave my teeth a break by softening up some of the nuts and seeds.
The Lemon Thyme and Chimayo Chili pecans and Vanilla Maple Almonds rounded out the products I taste-tested. Upon opening the bag, there is no doubt that they did not skimp on lemon for the Lemon Thyme pecans, but they weren’t bitter. Little pieces of fresh thyme coated the pecans and it really was a sophiscated cacophony of flavors. Your nose would have you believe the pecans will be lemon-drop sweet, but they are actually more of a hint of juiciness and balanced bite from the thyme. The Chimayo Chili is sweet, smoky and spicy all at once; I was really surpised that I enjoyed these since I usually do not care for spicy foods. The Vanilla Maple almonds were very subtle, just a tinge of sweetness and vanilla to differentiate it from a handful of regular raw almonds.
The caloric values are reasonable for the portion sizes and I appreciated the amount of decadence you get for the price. I will definitely purchase the macaroons and Meyer Lemon miracle tart in the future, although overall all the products were great. Hail Merry snacks are definitely a great alternative to traditional snacks and a sweet introduction into the raw, vegan lifestyle for beginners, veterans, or just the sophisticated foodie. You can purchase Hail Merry snacks at your local Whole Foods Market, Central Market, and online at http://www.hailmerry.com.