Pleasant Petites is Making Organic, Gluten-Free, Vegan Desserts that Wow on Long Island

Long Islanders with dietary restrictions, rejoice! Pleasant Petites is making the desserts of your dreams right here in Amityville.

Peanut Butter Goji Berry Brownie, anyone?

You might not think you need an organic, gluten-free, vegan treat. I and my non-vegan, non-vegetarian, gluten-glugging, sugar-lusting nine-year-old boy are here to tell you that you do.

Pleasant Petites are sweet treats like Red Velvet Snowballs and Mint Chocolate Chip Snowballs and Peanut Butter Goji Berry Brownies. They are just a few bites in size, but deliver lots of crunchy, sweet, chewy flavors and satisfaction. The best part: they are hand-made right in Amityville—by a couple of devoted healthy eaters who don’t want anyone to give up the fun when they give up certain types of foods.

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Jamie Effman and Bobby Nagelberg met a couple of years ago when they were both working at Organic Corner in Massapequa, Effman as chef and Nagelberg at the juice bar. A graduate of The Culinary Academy of Long Island, Effman had changed her diet to limit gluten, meats and processed food after she developed discomfort and pain after the birth of her daughter in 2008. “My symptoms quickly subsided. By paying close attention to my diet, I was able to rectify a problem which doctors could not,” she says.

Nagelberg’s change to a vegan diet is even more dramatic. He was diagnosed with brain cancer just before he turned 21. Up until then, he had eaten a typical Western guy diet of meat, cheese and processed food.

The Pleasant Petites team: Bobby Nagelberg, Jamie Effman, and Jesse Effman (left to right)

“After years of treatments, medications, and recovery, I decided to look into things for myself,” he says. He researched healthy diets and successful cancer recovery and in 2015 became vegan. That is also when he went to work at Organic Corner and met Effman. Both of them lamented the lack of healthy desserts that kept the stuff they didn’t want out and kept the good stuff in. So they began experimenting, with Effman’s husband, Jesse Effman, joining them to take care of the website and manage the business model.

Renting time at Kitchen Co-op, the business incubator kitchen in Amityville, they played with ingredients and flavors and forms, testing their products at the farmers markets in Huntington and Long Beach. “We would ask people what they liked, what they wanted more of,” says Nagelberg. “It was great; we got real feedback direct from the customers as we created the recipes. They told us what worked.”

Red Velvet Snowballs are one of their bestsellers.

The result is a product line that is all organic and completely vegan, yet deeply satisfying. It is also mostly raw; only the nuts are roasted. “One of the unique things,” says Effman, “is they are not baked. They are mostly pulsed and pressed. We bind them with dates and other sticky fruits.” The sugar they use is unrefined.

They are also totally adorable. The snowballs are rolled in coconut flakes, the Cocoa Krunch (“It’s our take on a Kit-Kat,” says Effman) is a chocolatey crunch bar, the Lemon Bar is dainty and sweet. We are saving our NOLA Bar (granola) for our next hike. The just-enough-for-a-treat packaging makes it exactly a treat, not an overindulgent mistake you’ll regret. And the ingredients are all listed on the packaging and elaborated on on their website, so you know precisely what you’re getting. And truly, my kid loved them and thinks they are much better than the average store-bought candy bar (which, believe me, he also loves). So if the average kid thinks they are super, someone who really does have dietary restrictions will be very happy to discover these.

Pleasant Petites is making the transition from farmers markets to store shelves. They are available at Organic Corner in Massapequa (where Bobby Nagelberg still works), The Book Revue in Huntington and Sherry’s Market in Babylon as well as other places around the island. For a complete listing, check the Pleasant Petites website.

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Natalia de Cuba Romero writes from her home in Massapequa Park, and chronicles simple seasonal recipes for the produce she gets as a Restoration Farm member at hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com. She is a full-time lecturer at Nassau Commmunity College.