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Archive for April, 2011

Baked Barbecue Seitan

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Seitan, aka “wheat meat,” is a vegan meat substitute made from the gluten, or protein, portion of wheat. It’s extremely flexible in both the flavoring you can impart — in that sense, it’s very much like tofu in the way it soaks up marinades and incorporates spices — and the textures you can create thru differing ratios of dry to wet ingredients and cooking techniques.

In other words, it’s a lot of fun for the creative cook! :)

There was a time when I was making and eating the stuff almost daily since it’s basically pure protein and therefore fit perfectly into my CRON (calorie restriction with optimum nutrition) regimen by providing so much proteinous bang for the caloric buck. Alas, I think I overdid it, because I eventually started to exhibit some of the classic gluten intolerance symptoms, such as the foggy head and so on.

After a long break from gluten in all forms, I reintroduced it in cereals, etc., some time back. More recently, even seitan has returned to my diet, albeit in a moderated fashion this time. Indeed, it wasn’t until a couple days ago that I broke out the bag of wheat protein isolate to once again make some homemade seitan, inspired by Easter dinner with my friends who’ve just started making their own as well.

Gone are the days of having to wash and rewash wheat flour to get to the gluten; now you can just buy it in pre-separated bags. This experimental recipe shows just how quick and easy it can be and should serve as a useful jumping off point for your own creations. Enjoy!

Dry Ingredients:

60 grams vital wheat gluten (I actually use WPI)
20 grams brewer’s yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
dash black pepper

“Wet” Ingredients:

2 oz tomato paste
2/3 cup water
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
minced hot peppers of your choosing – optional
(I used habanero, you could also use ground/powdered)

After combining the two groups in their own bowls, mix together into the bigger bowl until no dry spots remain. I refrained from kneading, so the final result was rather soft, though certainly not unpleasantly so. (Here’s one spot you could deviate by kneading a bit and/or using more vital wheat gluten for a chewier end product in either case.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread mixture into a well-oiled baking dish or loaf pan and bake for at least 35 minutes.

Allow to cool before cutting out pieces or scooping out as crumbles.

Use as a filling for burritos or a sub, with a leafy green, tomato, and a vegan mayo and/or barbecue sauce. This is a small batch, but if you make more, it’s great reheated in a fry pan for a little char.


Whole Foods != Whole Paycheck

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Note for non-programmers about the title: != means not equal

While visiting my family in North Carolina, one of the stores we stopped at a few times was Whole Foods. Not just for shopping, but we also sampled their wide array of vegan sandwich options, including a chocolate chip cookie that instantly turned into an ooey-gooey mess when taken outside to the tables where my sister and I ate lunch.

What surprised me most was its bad rap for being expensive. That may have been the case with some organic produce and name brands, but there was also an oasis for the frugal in that high-priced desert, namely, their 365 store brand.

My favorite finds were no-sodium-added cans of black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and even garbanzo beans for just 99 cents each, and Golden Flax Flakes and Oat Bran Flakes cereals, low and very low sodium, respectively (these are actual FDA definitions; see low sodium labeling guidelines), for only $3 a box!

Needless to say, I stocked up and put a few bags in the trunk of the car for the ride home. Low sodium goods like this are hard to find, and when you do, they’re usually not cheap.

Unfortunately, good ‘ole New Hampshire doesn’t have a Whole Foods (yet?), but it’s probably worth the gas money to make an occasional, carpool, drive down to Massachusetts or over to Portland, Maine for such deals.

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