Playing with Seitan

Speaking for the Guiding Stars web team, working closely with Guiding Stars has had a huge impact on our eating choices and the way we think about food in general. We’ve always spent a fair amount of time cooking together outside of the office, but thinking about food through the lens of this nutritional rating system always has us wondering: “Would this recipe earn any stars? What could we do to make it healthier without compromising the taste?”

Seitan and Snow Peas
Seitan and Snow Peas / Heather Kennedy / CC BY 2.0

One of our more recent experiments was with seitan, which is basically a vegetarian meat substitute. None of us are vegetarians, but a lot of the research we come across in the course of working with Guiding Stars has persuaded us that cutting down on your meat intake (and even just your plain protein intake) is not a bad idea. Seitan is definitely primarily a protein source at almost 34 grams per serving, but as it is plant-based protein, we thought we’d give it a try.

The results were far better than we could have predicted. The texture is similar to a dumpling–a very dense, soggy bread. Because of it’s tender, sponge-like qualities, however, if just soaked up every flavor we threw at it. One thing we’ve picked up from Guiding Stars is that cooking with aromatics, herbs, and spices can help you get away from the need to add salt for flavor, so our sauce was mostly a mashup of chilis, garlic, lemon juice and ginger. The salt in the seitan was all the dish needed and the flavor was incredible.

We’ve shared the recipe we used below, and if you don’t click through to the recipe page to see the nutritional information, it’s worth noting that fiber and protein are the main positive players in this dish, which has a fairly high amount of salt. Having learned from Guiding Stars that a varied diet of whole foods is the best way to get all the nutrients you need, we’d recommend pairing a modest serving of seitan with plenty of veggies. We enjoyed it over a heaping bed of baby spinach, but the more variety of veggies you get in, the better.

Simple Seitan

Print this recipe | Get the full nutrition facts

Seitan, sometimes known as “mock duck” or “wheat meat” is a high-protein vegan dish that resembles meat in texture. You can use seitan as you would chicken or tofu and the flavors can be easily adjusted with herbs or spices to suit any dish you enjoy.

Servings: 6 (259 G)

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 40 min.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • ½ small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Directions

  1. Combine vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast. Stir in soy sauce and enough broth to form a thick dough.
  2. Knead dough until elastic and easy to handle. Shape as desired—common shapes include loaves, balls and patties.
  3. Place dough in large saucepan and add remaining broth, onion and garlic. If necessary, add enough water to cover seitan.
  4. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 to 45 minutes. Dough should be firm. Cool in broth or serve warm.
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