Move over meat. Seitan will save you.

Are you looking to change up your nutrition as part of your goals this year?

Maybe you're looking to cut back on your meat consumption or to make healthier food choices?  I just want to say that even considering your nutrition is a wonderful step to treating your body well.  So, thumbs up there.

I've discovered that an easy way to change out a less desirable habit, is to exchange it for a more desirable habit.  Trying to drop something without replacing it with something else isn't fun.  So, with food, this can be to simply replace one thing with another.  An easy example of this could be replacing your diet soda with a bubbly water like La Croix or putting almond milk creamer in your coffee instead of cow's milk creamer.

How about a more difficult habit to exchange?  Meat consumption.

According to the CDC, the number one cause of death in the US is heart disease.  A quick bit of research and you will find that cleaning up your diet - and reducing your consumption of meat - could lesson the risks of heart disease substantially.  So, how do you go about making changes to this habit?  Excuse the pun, but quitting cold turkey just doesn't work for most.

Enter seitan.  No, this is not a little devil in disguise, but you pronounce it pretty much the same.  This beautiful thing is a regular in our house and can serve as a nice replacement to widen your choices - not limit or cut them.  

What is seitan?  It's basically gluten and seasonings.  Don't run away from me at the word gluten.  Unless you are celiac (and you aren't unless you've been tested by a doctor and show me the papers), gluten is fine.  The beauty of seitan is in it's simplicity.  
Seitan is high in protein (this video can explain more about complete proteins also), low in carbs, and only includes the ingredients you choose.
It has a very meat-like appearance and texture and can take on any flavor you put in it.  
It's very easy to make and you can shape it any way you like, slice it, chop it, and grill it.  
It's completely versatile.

My favorite recipe is simple, easy, and delicious.  You can swap out the seasonings for those to your liking as well.  There are many other recipes out there - from the complex, ridiculously delicious, hard to tell it isn't meat to the oil and soy free.  For now, simple is good.

I use this recipe to chop up and simmer with onions and peppers for tacos, cut it into strips for grilling, and eating it with practically anything.

Easy Baked Seitan*

2 cups (260g) vital wheat gluten
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a 8x8 cake pan.  I use parchment paper.  

Combine the gluten with the spices and whisk well.
In a second bowl, combine the broth with oil and soy sauce.  Pour the liquid mixture into the dry and knead by hand until just combined.  It will be weird.

Flatten the dough into the prepared pan and cover with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Carefully flip the seitan over, cover and bake for another 30 minutes.  

Let cool and cut into strips or chop for crumbles.  Use any way you like!

I challenge you to give this a try.  Finding alternatives that work for you can be a key to taking those small steps to a healthier lifestyle.

Seitan is at home with us.  We make tacos often (first and last pic), seitan ruebens, and seitan stir fry:
(I apologize for the quality of these photos.  I wish I had kept the originals, but they all suffer from phone/instagram size!)

*Nutritional Information:
This will vary slightly depending on the brands you choose.
8 Servings for Total Recipe
Per Serving
157 Calories
4g fat
5g carbs
25g protein
0 cholesterol, <1g saturated fat


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