To be honest, I am having tons of fun with this new almost vegan diet. My motivation for finding new recipes is soaring, and you wouldn’t believe how excited I am to cook every weekend. To be frank, eating almost vegan requires a level of creativity that I have not experienced before. I liken it to learning a new language; it’s mind blowing! For so long I have had this American ideal as to what constitutes a meal. Now, I have to completely change that. It doesn’t help that there is very little information out there. I was super disappointed with PETA’s website. Given how many times I was approached at festivals and asked to go vegan, I thought that they would have tons of resources available on their website.
Well, PETA did have tons of information, however, what did the majority of their recipes entail? Highly processed soy fake meat. Thanks PETA. I would love to completely obliterate my stomach and my health by eating tons of chemicals. Just because those are vegan chemicals doesn’t mean that they are good for you.
Anyway, the library was much more helpful than any website I have discovered so far. The goldmine? Vegan Slow Cooking by Kathy Hester. Sure, many of her recipes completely lack protein (a common problem) but others are revolutionary. Like did you know you could make your own seitan? Seitan at the store may be delicious, but it often costs about $5 for two servings. That is way out of my price range. Furthermore, often times when I have eaten store bought seitan, my stomach has been terrible afterwards. Craving something more hearty than my usual bowls of warm stuff, I wanted to try following Hester’s advice. She had a recipe for homemade seitan, and paired it with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots. Can you say finger licking good? And I had high hopes that if I made my own seitan, it would be more gentle on my stomach. (Spoiler, it was!)
First, before we get into the health benefits and drawbacks of seitan, you may be wondering what seitan actually is. Seitan, far from being a new thing, was discovered by ancient seventh century Buddhist monks. Yeah, that wise man on the mountain? He was eating seitan! Who knows how they discovered it, but seitan is made by washing the starch out of wheat flour, and leaving the gluten protein behind. The texture resembles meat, and its protein content makes it delicious to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
Eeek! It’s all gluten! Super bad for you! Um, no. Gluten isn’t inherently bad for you. I discussed this before. What is bad for you is eating gluten for every single meal of the day. However, if you are vegetarian or vegan, you are (if you are doing it right) already eating many different types of gluten free meals. Having seitan once a day will not lead to gluten intolerance any more than eating strawberries every day will lead to strawberry intolerance. Just… don’t eat pounds and pounds of strawberries every day, okay? The same goes for seitan.
Making seitan at home is both easy and economical. One package of vital wheat gluten cost me $7 at the co-op, and will make about 4 batches of seitan. That’s less than $2 per batch! A batch lasts me about five meals, so that is less than $0.50 per meal. WHAT A DEAL! Following Hester’s recipe, I made my own seitan and it was both easy on the stomach, delicious, and satisfied all sorts of protein and savory food cravings. I highly recommend adding homemade seitan to your weekly diet.
This week in Updates: Jennifer Visit!
So, super exciting, Jennifer has been visiting me all week. If you do not know, Jennifer is my seven-year younger sister. She’s been my biggest admirer since she was old enough to throw up on me. We are both incredibly different. I like words and I been considered overly egg headed and mental, while she is the emotionally sensitive artistic visual one. Communicating with each other has sometimes been problematic, however we work through it all. This trip with her coming to Sacramento has really been the first time we both hung out as adults. SCARY. Living so far away from each other means that it is hard to stay current, and to really get to know each other as individuals as opposed to sisters. It has really been quite a cool experience.
The Recipe (review): Homemade Seitan with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots
For the Seitan coins:
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
¾ cup water
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp rosemary
½ tsp salt
Put the broth into your crock pot and start to heat it on high. Add the water and spices to the wheat gluten flour, and knead for about 5 minutes. Roll the seitan into a log and chop it into coins. Place in slow cooking and cook on high until they rise, about 2-3 hours. DONE.
For the carrots and mashed potatoes, make them however you like. I like putting the carrots in the oven with marjoram and olive oil at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, and the potatoes in my rice cooker with a little water and olive oil.
For the gravy:
2 cup water
1 cup minced mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Add water, cooked seitan coins, and mushrooms to crock pot and cook on low for 7-9 hours. You can also cook on high for 3-4 hours. After it is done cooking, mix in flour, salt and pepper to make the gravy. Enjoy with your mashed potatoes and carrots. YUMMY!