Universal Yums! May 2015


There’s something fun about getting a surprise package in the mail!  After waiting for months, I finally got off the wait list for ipsy and was receiving make-up bags each month.  The Weekend Chef was getting a monthly subscription to Birchbox for Men.  However, as fun as these boxes were to get every month, there’s only so many male grooming products out there that the Weekend Chef could use.  For myself, I just don’t wear make-up very often, so most of the products went unused in the cute bags I received each month.  We decided to cancel our subscriptions and find something the whole family could enjoy.

As food lovers, what a better subscription for our family to enjoy than a food-themed one?!!!  But, there are so many different ones out there to choose from.  Well, we decided to try Universal Yums!  This is an international snack subscription box that started in December of 2014.  Each month they send a selection of snacks from one particular country.  Previous countries include Scandinavia, China, Italy, Brazil and Germany.  Unfortunately, you cannot currently order a previous month’s box.  The selection includes a mix of salty, sweet, spicy and more.  You can choose between either The Yum Box (6 or more snacks in each box) for $13 or The Yum Yum Box (13+ snacks each month) for $25.  Of course we decided to opt for the larger, Yum Yum Box.

I received an e-mail on a Wednesday that my May box had shipped and the box arrived on Friday, shipped 2-day priority mail.  May’s snack box theme was Israel.


When you first open the box, the snacks are wrapped in tissue paper that looks like the flag of the country.  an information card is enclosed that provides facts about the featured country as well as a run-down of the products included in the box.

So what was included in the box?

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1.  Original Bamba – This was a 1 ounce bag of Bamba peanut snacks.  These have the appearance of a puffed cheese doodle with a peanut butter flavor.  They only have four ingredients, peanuts, corn, palm oil and salt.  The adults thought these were okay, the kids liked them a lot.


2.  Bamba with Hazelnut Crème Filling – This was a 2.1 ounce bag of Bamba snacks that are similar to the original, but include a hazelnut filling.  The flavor reminded the Weekend Chef of Reese’s Puffs cereal, with a hint of chocolate and the shape reminded him of Combos.  We all enjoyed these and this was my daughter’s favorite snack in the box!

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3.  Elite Popping Milk Chocolate – This was a 3 ounce chocolate bar and definitely won has most fun item in the box.  This is a chocolate bar that contains Pop Rocks so with every sweet bite you get a popping party in your mouth!  This was the Weekend Chef’s favorite snack in the box!

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4. – 7.  Toffee Fruit Chews  – The box contained four of these fruit chews – 2 strawberry, one peach and one green apple.  We all got to have one.  The kids liked these, the Weekend Chef and I thought they were okay.  They tasted like fruit toffee and were okay.  This was my son’s favorite snack in the box!

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8. Falafel Bissli – This was a 2.5 ounce bag of super crunchy little falafel-flavored sticks.  Prior to eating these, I made falafel so the kids would be familiar with the flavor.  Although they weren’t the biggest fans of these, these were my favorite snack from the box.  I love falafel and thought these snacks were flavorful.


9. Pinuki Cola Dragees – This roll included 12 pieces of cola-flavored candy.  Our son really liked these, but no one else did.  I’m a big soda fan and to me, these had an “off” type flavor that didn’t remind me of the alleged cola flavor.


10. Achva Marble Sesame Halva Bar – This 2.45 ounce bar was the family’s least favorite snack in the box.  From the wrapper, our daughter thought it would have a chocolatey-flavor.  Boy was she disappointed!  This bar was chalky and dry with a sweet flavor that none of us liked.

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11. Pesekzman Elite Classic Chocolate Bar – This 1.59 ounce milk chocolate bar consisted of five squares that had a wafer-like hazelnut filling.  This was one of my favorite candy’s in the box  The wafer filling reminded me of the inside of a Ferrero Rocher chocolate.  The Weekend Chef wasn’t a big fan of this one, but that meant one square for everyone else and two squares for me!

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12.  B&B Pretzels Mega Sesame Sticks – This was a 5.3 ounce bag of pretzel sticks.  These sticks are baked, not fried and are covered in sesame seeds.  They are pretzels…….nothing special, but a decent size portion of the snack.

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13. Kif Kef Chocolate Bar – This 0.65 ounce candy bar was about the size of a snack size Kit Kat bar.  Even the name Kif Kef sounds like Kit Kat.  It tasted like a Kit Kat bar to us.  This was a “snack size” serving so we each only got a bite.

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14.  Mini Elite Hazelnut Chocolate Bar – This 0.63 ounce chocolate bar was the size of a Snicker’s snack size candy bar.  Again, we each only got  a small taste of this candy bar.  This had a nougat-like filling with hazelnuts.  The Weekend Chef thought this was similar to a Snickers bar, which the info card compared it to (and he didn’t look at the card!).  I didn’t think it tasted like a Snickers and it wasn’t my favorite.


15.  Bissli Smokey snacks – This 2.5 ounce bag of crunchy wheat snacks had a smoky flavor to them.  My son thought they had a “bacon-y” flavor and liked them, where my daughter thought they were just okay.  I love salty, crunchy snacks, so I enjoyed these a lot.  While the bag notes that it’s 2 1/2 servings, if I was eating these out of the bag, I’d eat the whole thing in a sitting!

This was a fun box of snacks!  Although we didn’t love everything, it was a great experience getting to try new snacks from another country.  There was a great mix of sweet and savory.  Size-wise, the majority of the snacks were shareable for our family of four where we each got a decent taste of each snack.  Although, we literally each only got a bite of the couple of snack-size chocolate candy bars.   We paced ourselves to try about one snack a day, so the fun of our box lasted for quite a bit of time.   Although now I can’t find it, I thought that I had read somewhere that Universal Yums! was not going to be sending chocolate items during the summer months (probably so you don’t have a melty chocolate mess!).

While this box is fun and tasty, as a former teacher, I feel like this box is a great teaching tool as well.    Although this was only our first box, we enjoyed it a lot and the Weekend Chef and I think it’s a fun way for the family to experience a new culture together!  Be sure to check out tomorrow’s Armchair Travel:  Israel post on how we extended our learning about Israel after receiving our snack box!

*We purchased this box.


Snack Spotlight: Lesser Evil Super 4


We are always on the lookout for new snacks and thought that we would occasionally showcase some recent ones that we have tried.  Nowadays, there are an infinite number of snacks in a myriad of different flavors on grocery store shelves.  And more are constantly being added!  On our quest to find new and interesting snacks we have been frequenting Marshalls of all places.  Their specialty and gourmet food selection is surprisingly large and constantly being updated with new and interesting products!

Today we are featuring Lesser Evil brand Super 4 Snacks. The name is a mouthful:  White bean, Quinoa, Lentil Chia snacks.  We tried the Cheesy Nacho flavor but they also come in two other flavors, Kale & Roasted Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper.  Before I told the kids what these were I had them try them.  Taking after their mother, neither can say no to salty, crunchy chip-like foods!


I wasn’t surprised when they liked them!  I then told them the name and they kind of shrugged.  I know if I had told them prior to eating they would tell me that they don’t like those things.  The Lesser Evil brand company headquarters is located in Danbury, Connecticut, which is only about an hour away from us.  By purchasing these, I feel like we’re supporting a semi-local company.  We also like that these snacks contain no GMOs, preservatives, or refined sugars.  While we are attempting to eat somewhat healthier, I cannot give up my salty, crunchy snacks.  I am always on the lookout for healthier alternatives that will fill my snacking needs and these Lesser Evil Super 4 snacks fit the bill!   You can check out the official Lesser Evil site here.  I am excited to see that the company also makes other snacks including popcorn and Baked Bean Chia Crisps.




Sweet and Spicy Popcorn


Today is National Popcorn Day.  Our family loves popcorn!  We always have at least one box of microwave popcorn on hand for movie nights.  In our attempt to eat healthier, we have been trying to buy non-GMO, natural popcorn with no butter or flavoring and possibly just some salt added. To help flavor the popcorn, we’ve been on the lookout for recipes that allow us to add our own flavoring.  We saw this recipe for Sweet and Spicy Popcorn in Geoffrey Zakarian’s new cookbook My Perfect Pantry* and thought we’d try it out.  The kids didn’t enjoy it that much and luckily, we didn’t flavor all of the popcorn, so that they could have some without the seasoning on it.  We thought it added nice flavor to the company and we could taste the spicy and sweet.  The “spicy” was not overwhelming at all and the seasoning ratios of can be adjusted based on your spice tolerance/preference.

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn
Recipe slightly adapted from coobook My Perfect Pantry by Geoffrey Zakarian

1 bag of natural (no butter) microwave popcorn
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
kosher salt


1. Microwave popcorn and put into large bowl.

2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Once melted, add the spices, cooking until fragrant, approximately one minute. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves.

3. Drizzle the spiced butter over the popcorn. Sprinkle with salt and toss well to mix.

We ended up having leftover popcorn that we stored in a sealed container for two days.

*We received My Perfect Pantry by Geoffrey Zakarian from Blogging for Books for a review.