This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what we’re eating, drinking, and buying. Here, Ali Francis expounds on the seasoning that makes her (mostly) vegetarian meals sing and has opened her pantry to a whole new world of flavor.
I love vegetables. I truly-madly-deeply do. But even me, a vegetarian (who very occasionally eats fish), will admit that it can take some coaxing to make them taste ba-bing instead of ba-bomp. A lending hand from mayonnaise. A dunk in some tangy yogurt. A saucy, slow dance with garlic and vinegar. But during busy weeks I don’t always have it in me to spend hours thinking of new and delicious ways to upgrade my dinner—and that’s where All Day’s Crave seasoning comes in.
It’s a vegan nutritional-yeast-based spice blend featuring a super-savory lineup of garlic, onion, red bell pepper, and turmeric. And like the Midas of flavor, a liberal sprinkle blesses everything it touches with big Doritos energy. It’s cheesy (sans the cheese), intensely umami-y like something concocted in a lab but actually made of real vegetables, and just as versatile as your sticky shaker (am I projecting?) of salt, without all the, well, sodium. You don’t have to deploy fancy time-consuming techniques to make everything you cook taste like something you actually want to eat. Crave does so much of the heavy lifting for you.
It’s been there for me on nights when all I can do is throw some seasoned veg into the air fryer and pile them on store-bought hummus. I’ve watched objectively meh salads—made from the shriveled nubs of cucumber and carrot in my fridge—come to life with a little Crave whirred through the dressing. I’m trying to loosen dairy’s hold over me, and a shower of Crave on my pea ravioli is a sacrifice-free substitute for parm. And a big bowl of homemade popcorn now rivals the buttery cinema stuff when I coat it in my magic dust.
All Day is the brainchild of Starday, a food company with a mission to make snacks that busy Americans actually want. Big Food hasn’t really been listening to its customers, and “we believe that there’s a better way to make products,” says cofounder Lily Burtis. Each of the brands Starday has spawned since it launched in 2021 use customer data to focus on a specific pain point: Gooey is everything you love about Nutella without a whole bunch of refined sugar and emulsifiers. Cozumi sells pre-seasoned, ready-to-cook rice developed especially for the IBS girlies. And Habeya makes plant-based protein crunchies for showering over salads, grain bowls, soups, and more.
Starday’s whole schtick is making convenient food products you can feel good about eating. All Day, and its family of innovative spice blends like Crave, is no different. “According to our research, people were buying the same ingredients during their work weeks but still wanted variety and global flavors,” says Lena Kwak, a Starday cofounder. “We thought that spice blends, which really deliver a pop of flavor, could solve for those needs.”
Beyond Crave, All Day sells three other combos: Fuego, a sweet-spicy explosion in your mouth starring apple, chile, and miso; Poppin, which is bright and peppy thanks to crystallized lemon; and Boom, which goes big on the umami notes with dehydrated mushrooms and tomato. Once I had all of them on my spice rack, I realized I very rarely reached for anything else. You know, kinda like the bag of Doritos I swore was somewhere in my pantry.