Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mini-Pitas

Yes! Yes! Two months ago I scoured the entire city looking for these and they were nowhere to be found. Yesterday, lo and behold, there they were on the shelf at my regular grocery store -- MINI-PITAS! They're just the right size for a little hand, and they fit perfectly in the lunch box. I filled them with our old favorite, "white bean crock cheese" from Jo Stepaniak's Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. (As a pointless aside, my scientifically-minded yet utterly adorable omni husband gets disgusted when I call it "cheese". Yes, technically, it's not cheese, it's beans. I can't even really tell if it tastes like cheese, but heck, it's really good! So I call it "white bean crock stuff", which doesn't sound quite as appetizing...)
Anyhoo, along with my Happy Mini-Pita Dance I'm doing the Guinea Pig Shuffle: Matisse & Jack asked shmoo and I to try out their TrailBlaze Bake-At-Home Oatmeal Energy Bars -- you add applesauce to a dry mix, stick it in the oven, and take out a batch of vegan "energy" bars without the wrappers. Today we tried Cranberry Walnut. I packed them along with kiwi fruit and Brussels sprouts (there were four but shmoo nicked one to eat with breakfast).
Verdict: First, the bars: they were absolutely effortless, cheaper and more eco-friendly than prepackaged bars, and tasted good (can't wait to try the chocolate!). One criticism I have is that the bars contain whole flaxseeds; flax needs to be ground in order to become bioavailable, so those lovely omega-3s are going in one end and right out the other, and getting stuck in my teeth along the way. Only one mini-pita was left uneaten. 4 stars.

58 comments:

KleoPatra said...

Great looking pita sandwiches!

Anonymous said...

Yum! Mimi pitas are so easy to make though-- let me know if you want the recipe I use.

Carrie™ said...

Those bars sounded really good and since I love things like that in my lunch, I checked out the website. They don't ship to Canada. :o( But I see that they are at Whole Foods in BC, so maybe they'll make it east. Pitas are great for lunches and I love the mini ones too. Thank you for another great lunch. It looks better than the one I had.

ariane said...

Wow--a kid who sneaks brussel sprouts for breakfast, who woulda thought?

Anyway, I just wanted to say a HUGE thank-you to Jennifer or whoever it was that pointed my towards the veganstore.com site. I was having some serious cravings--not having had dairy for about five years now (I'm allergic). I got my order today--tons of chocolatey treats, and yeast/gluten/dairy-free parmesan!!! I am in heaven.

Winter Moon said...

I love that "cheese" too -- we make it here at least every other week. We just call it bean cheese. That lunch looked delish :)

And you are so right about grinding the flax...wish more manufacturers would realize that.

Kimson said...

Mmm, pitas. Do you also fill them with hummus, or will Shmoo not touch it?

Katy Newton said...

I'm not a vegan but I love your site. It makes vegan food look fantastically tasty.

I am also very impressed with your brussel sprout-loving schmoo. I'd have to wrestle my nephew to the floor and wire his mouth open to get him to eat a sprout.

Jennifershmoo said...

>>Do you also fill them with hummus, or will Shmoo not touch it?

Yes, he likes hummus, too, as long as it's not too garlicky or lemony.

Nancy said...

Whoa! I can't believe your schmoo eats brussel sprouts! That's great! Do you blanch them/put something on them to make them taste better?

Ana said...

Chew the bars really really well? That way you "grind" them yourself. :-p

Jennifershmoo said...

Cool! I just got an email from the energy bar company, saying they are working with a food scientist to figure out how to grind the flax without the exposed flaxseed oil going rancid.

Jennifershmoo said...

>>Do you blanch them/put something on them to make them taste better?

I boiled them in lightly salted water -- that's it! Sometimes I make this great recipe with a sweet sauce:

http://shmooedfood.blogspot.com/2005/12/best-brussels-sprouts.html

jo(e) said...

These lunches look terrific. I wish you were making my lunches.

SusanV said...

I may just have to try using mini-pitas in my daughter's lunchbox. I've always warmed pitas before filling them and didn't think they'd taste very good cold, but if you say so... :-)

Anonymous said...

my boyfriend has the same problem! he hates it when I call things made with vegan buttery spreads "butter." I end up calling butter cake "fat cake," which for some reason doesn't sound the same!

EatPeacePlease said...

Jennifer, if you chew the flax seeds really well it can be more bioavailable. After all, digestion starts in the mouth!

In my treats, I use ground for the mix and top it off with hemp seeds and whole flax seeds (for effect). I like how you did your Happy-Mini-Pita-Dance and to me, "stuff" sounds a lot better/appetizing than "cheese". If you have a Trader Joes, they have 'em there.

Everyone and SUSAN V... I have found that warming pitas for later use makes them more soggy and rubbery. In fact, it makes the cold ones so much better.

Kim - ScrapToMyLu said...

bioavailable........I learn so much from you.

Anonymous said...

Trader Joes always carries mini pitas in wheat and white, so you can stock up there!

Also, if its bean, why not call it a bean pita? Actually, thats what I have for lunch almost everyday: black bean spread into a pita, layered with spinach or lettuce and a slice of soy cheese. Delicious and portable. My kind of lunch :-)

Anonymous said...

Any child who actually likes Brussels sprouts is a child after my heart. I ADORE Brussels sprouts. I'm vegetarian, not vegan, so I boil them in vegetable stock, then drain and add some butter, salt, and caraway seeds. Mmmmm. The butter part would be problematic if I were vegan, obviously.

Brussels rock!

Anonymous said...

BTW, my 11 year old daughter now asks me everyday what your son had for lunch. She's incredibly jealous. LOL.

Passion Tea said...

I've never had brussels sprouts. What do they taste like?

Karlie said...

Brussel sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, in the same family as broccoli and cabbage. They have a slightly sulphurous taste (in a good way!) like broccoli does. I love brussel sprouts myself, but they do have a rather strong flavour.

jenny said...

I don't know if it's an East Coast - West Coast thing, but mini-pitas (whole wheat and regular) are available EVERYWHERE here - even at the little neighborhood convenience stores - I'm shocked you had trouble finding them!

Sheryle said...

Jennifer, you just keep calling it cheese! I make an awesome vegan cheesecake and I had someone at work tell me I couldn't call it a cheesecake, I could only call it a tofu cake. Right. Like that sounds appetizing. There's no semantics police, so call it what you like.

krispycheks said...

To me, if it looks like a cheese and smells like a cheese, it's a cheese. I mean, if we're going for strict dictionary definitions rather than an evolving language, milk is defined as a milky substance, so soy milk is no less milk than cow's milk. I think it's bad for the culture to make our food seem inferior by calling it "fake". Sure, it's one thing to clarify it in front of an audience that may not realize it, but in my home if I say "cream cheese" it's understood that it's Tofutti, no one questions my meaning.

Anonymous said...

i know this is completely off topic, but i didnt know who else would be able to help....how do i use arrowroot powder as a thickener? my boyfriend is allergic to corn so i have to use thickeners other than cornstarch for the asian cooking he loves....help for a desperate cook? btw jennifer, i love the blog and check it every day to see what yummy foods youve cooked for the lucky little shmoo! although im omni, i love your ideas for vegan cooking, if i didnt have your blog i would of been at a complete loss on how to cook vegan! (which i do sometimes, and plan on it more often!)

Avery said...

You can use arrowroot powder in the exact same amount as whatever recipe you may be looking at calls for corn starch. It doesn't make the water murky looking if you are dissolving it first. It works just the same so you shouldn't have any problems.

I JUST got the Uncheese Cookbook in the mail TODAY and I am so excited about it! It all looks so good! I also got the "Vegan World Fusion" book which IMHO is the most beautiful cookbook ever written.

We get mini pitas at Trader Joes that are even smaller than the ones in Shmoo's lunch! Whole wheat goodness! You get a ton of them for a mere $1.19!

Anonymous said...

I love the whole wheat pitas at Trader Joes. I gotten both sizes of pitas there- the one's in Shmoo's lunch and also the even smaller ones. I love making hummus sanwiches or pb and j's with them or just using them to dip with hummus. I'd love to try it with a new filling and this white bean crock stuff sounds delicious. I bet they'd be go with any bean and "cheese" filling, but I never would have thought of that. Thanks Jennifer.

Anonymous said...

He likes hummus, too, as long as it's not too garlicky or lemony

Jen, come the summer break (which we are all totally dreading) maybe you could blog a couple of meals focusing on foods Schmoo isn't fond of?

I only ask because I love all the new ideas I get from this blog and I'm desperately curious to see what you'd do with the foods that won't go in the lunchbox, because Schmoo doesn't enjoy them. Y'know: onions, sweet potatoes, crusts... :-)

lizzie lou said...

another great way to make brussels sprouts is my mom's traditional thanksgiving recipe: steam the b.sprouts til tender, then marinate overnight in any kind of italian salad dressing (in the old days she would use a huge bottle of wishbone, but we've all gone healthier since then). these are so delicious, even brussels sprouts haters love them.

Lisa Marie said...

I just looked up the cost of that TrailBlaze mix. Wow! $5.99 to yield 9 bars! Ouch! That's not cheap to me at all! Jennifer, how much are you paying for YOUR prepackaged bars?

I make my own granola and have been looking for a good bar recipe, so I was intrigued by this. But the price doesn't work for me.

Cool idea though.

R2K said...

Kiwi is Key.

New York Bathrooms

Melissa said...

Jennifer - thanks for pointing out that flaxseeds need to be ground in order to get to all the good stuff. I'm sitting here saying, Duh!. That makes all the sense in the world. I've been eating whole flaxseeds on my oatmeal and don't like the way they become stuck in my teeth either. I guess I could just slow down and chew better, but I hardly have time to eat a complete meal with three young ones running amok! BTW - I LOVE YOUR POSTS!!

mallory! said...

Lisa Marie, I don't know how much they cost in Washington (where Jennifer is), but I know that in NYC I'll pay anywhere from $1.99 - $2.50 for an energy bar in a convenience store, and only slightly less if I can find someone to sell me the whole box (which is sort of rare).

So it works out to about $18 - $22.50 for me to eat 9 energy bars. So even at $6 a box plus applesauce costs, the Trailblaze bars would be cheaper here.

Of course, this is NY, so I'm sure the Trailblaze mix sells for about $8.50 + tax, lol. :-)

Starla said...

I have a little electric coffee bean grinder that I have set aside just for grinding flaxseed. I keep both the whole and ground in the freezer in Tupp. containers. I use the ground as an egg replacer sometimes and then also put a tablespoon in the blender whenever I make a smoothie.

Anonymous said...

I also use a little grinder. It's very hard to chew those little flax seeds enough to open them and release their oil. Also, I second the refrigeration/freezing idea. It's not as necessarry for the whole seeds (the seed coat protects the oil from going rancid)but very nec. for the ground seeds. But does anyone know how long they keep after grinding? I try to use them in a day or two because I don't know.

Carole said...

White bean crock stuff ... hmmm ... you're right doesn't sound quite as yummy! But it is funny!

Keep up the great work.

SaraAmarie said...

I LOVE energy bars! I have been wanting to find a receipe to make them from scratch but this mix might be just the thing!

I live in a very outdoors oriented community (mountain biking, river rafting, hiking, etc) and energy bars are between $1- $2 each (MAYBE $.99 if you are lucky.) So $5.99 for 9 bars is a good deal!

Jennifershmoo said...

Around here energy bars (not candy or granola bars, the kind with protein powder, flax, etc.) are around $2.00 each. So it seems like a good price, although I'm sure you can make them from scratch a bit cheaper.

KaiVegan said...

I love making energy bars at home, too. We also like the oat bars from Vive Le Vegan.
I have never seen mini-pitas here before. That is the neatest thing!

sarchan said...

That crock "cheese" looks like an interesting substitute for hummus. The mini-pitas are pretty fun too. Another lunch I'm envious of :)

islandgirlshell said...

I'm so glad to see someone recommending The UUC by Jo Stepaniak! I'm usually alone in my appreciation of her book.

Are the Trader Joe's pitas vegan? I seem to remember passing them by last time I was there because they weren't. I made pitas from the New Laurel's Kitchen cookbook a few years back and it was fun and easy...but not as easy as store bought! :)

Anonymous said...

actually, Merriam-Webster (m-w.com) agrees with calling this cheese b/c it resembles cheese. See below:


Main Entry: 1cheese
Pronunciation: 'chEz
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English chese, from Old English cEse, from Latin caseus cheese
1 a : a food consisting of the coagulated, compressed, and usually ripened curd of milk separated from the whey b : an often cylindrical cake of this food
2 : something resembling cheese in shape or consistency

Anonymous said...

oh -- and isn't the definition of dairy cheese NASTY! Coagulated ripened curd - yum!

Meg said...

I just got my "Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook" and "La Dolce Vegan" and I'm so excited to cook something! Thought I'd share my excitement with someone who does a "Happy Mini-Pita Dance" 'cause I'm doing a "Happy Cookbook Dance" over here in Sunny Florida! :-)

Anonymous said...

Well again that's a very non-vegan unfriendly attitude calling the definition of cheese nasty. Ripening is a historic way to make foods both more digestible and safer. I don't mean to pick and I know you're mostly vegan but I try not to talk about your vegan foods being nasty or disgusting and I'd appreciate the same consideration. I'm vegetarian and not considering becoming vegan because of the attitude I get from many vegans. (Not Jennifer!)

Anonymous said...

If you think we're bad with parsing words, check this out:
http://www.gawker.com/news/park-slope/the-park-slope-hat-spat-read-all-the-emails-166214.php

Anonymous said...

Oops, didn't fit.. after the second park-slope add the rest of the url
-hat-spat-read-all-the-emails-166214.php

Laura Linger said...

I am a recent convert to vegetarianism, with an eye for making the move to veganism. Your site may be geared toward children, but it's been GREAT for 35-year-old me! My husband and I are childfree adults, but we know plenty of folks with kids who would love this site. My sister is one of them...she is considering veggie for her family and I know that she would love to pack these lunches for her little girl. So glad that I found you. May I add you to my Links section on my blog? (It will increase your traffic; I have a pretty solid readership.)

caitlin said...

The best way to cook brussels sprouts EVER (even for those who think they hate them):
Drop them in boiling water for about a minute to blanche. Then, when cooled a little, cut them in half lengthwise and roast in a hot oven (about 375 to 400) with toasted seasame oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Stir them every 10 minutes or so until they are browned and delightful. Mm.

Anonymous said...

I wish the anonymous who takes offense at everything would go away.

I once lost a job opportunity because when they said during the interview where shall we go to lunch, I said any place I can get something vegetarian is fine with me, and the group leader went completely nuts and said I "had no right to criticize what they ate", etc. I could see the job disappearing before my eyes.

Jennifershmoo said...

>>oh -- and isn't the definition of dairy cheese NASTY! Coagulated ripened curd - yum!

Hey, it's no worse than tempeh: soybeans partially cooked and inoculated with Rhizopus oligosporus fungus, then fermented until the beans are knit together by a mat of white mycelia. Yummy!

Anonymous said...

That's the spirit! We can't put down non-vegans and expect them to join us.

Tori said...

>>"I'm vegetarian and not considering becoming vegan because of the attitude I get from many vegans."

I'm sure the dairy cows appreciate that... and the laying hens. I'm sure that your hurt feelers are more important than their short and tortured lives.
I know I sound like a jerk, and I normally wouldn't bother- but that is trivial and childish. Be Vegan if you care about animals and being compassionate, it doesn't matter if people are rude to you or not.

Amy O'Neill Houck said...

Hmm... I pretty much love anything Jo Stepniak does--and the mini pitas are a great idea.

La Tea Dah said...

Jennifer, what store did you find your mini pitas at? I'd love to try some!

Jennifershmoo said...

Hi, La Tea Dah! I found them at Fred Meyer's, on the shelf with the regular pitas. I shop there every week and had never seen them before.

red said...

thank you








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