Seitan…. something i had never actually heard of until last year when i kept seeing the word and food appear in vegan groups. Not to mention lots of people talking about how seitan is a great protein source.
So let’s start off with… what even is seitan? Well it is made from gluten protein – meaning that people with celiac can’t eat it because well… it is as far from gluten free as you can get, haha. Seitan can be brought pre made from different brands which you then heat up and cook or you can make seitan yours using wheat flour and different sauces and seasonings or by using white flour which takes alot long as you need to keep washing away the starch from the flour so you are left with only the gluten. The process from white flour to seitan can take 4-6 hours or longer but is cheaper than using gluten flour which can take 1-4 hours or more, depending what type of dish you want to make! However you can get cheap gluten flour from certain bakeries!
Seitain is usually called wheat meat, wheat protein or wheat gluten and is usually a good replacement for meat because of its texture, taste and size which can vary alot. It is easier to mold and form and flavour compared to other vegan options.
What about the nutritional value of seitan? (Note, the nutritional value depends on how you cook it and what ingredients you use to marinate it!)
Well one serving (3 ounce c.a 85g) has around 20-24g protein, 2-5g carbs, 0-2g fiber and fat varies depending on if you fry the seitan or what sauces you use (same goes for carb content!). Despite seitan having alot of protein, it is not a complete protein meaning it doesn’t have all the essential amino acids (lacks lysine!). So… if seitan and rice and broccoli is the only 3 foods you eat or if you only eat lots of seitan and other grains then you might not be getting all the essential amino acids. But considering that most people eat varied, and by adding some hummus to your meal with seitan or adding a bean mix or even some lentils you will have a meal that has all your essential amino acids. (Also NOTE…. as long as you eat varied over a whole day you don’t need to eat complete protein sources every meal. However if you are serious about strength training and building muscle, then it can be good to think about but for normal people who eat varied, not so much!) Also people say seitan is a good source of iron, well 100g seitan is around 5,2mg iron and the recommendation is around 8-10mg for men and 15-20mg per day for women, so i wouldn’t say it is a great source of iron not to mention it is not as bioavailable so the absorption rate is rather low.
Another note, one thing about seitan which you might want to be vary about is the amount of sodim as it is often cooked in a broth as well as in soya and numerous other seasonings and salts. So the sodium amount can be rather high… however, as long as it is eaten in moderation it isn’t something to worry about, but maybe you shouldn’t add extra salt on top of the seitan!!
I know gluten has gotten a bad rep, but the truth is that most people don’t even know what gluten is, where it is found or what it does in the body. That is not something i am going to get into in this post, instead i can make a post about gluten another time if people are interested, but i wanted to at least mention something about gluten.
I do however need to mention that as long as you aren’t sensitive to or intolerant to gluten then it is ok to eat seitan. However i wouldn’t have it as my only protein source because too much of anything isn’t good and considering it is pure gluten, it can be good to have it as a small part of your diet but combine with other protein sources such as beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh etc 🙂
It was my first time so i of course made alot of mistakes, but hopefully if you try making you can learn from my mistakes!!! I followed THIS recipe (you should be able to google translate!). Next time i am going to try another recipe and try cooking it another way…. yesterday i just made the mix, boiled it in broth and then fried and the result was ok… but nothing like the store bought seitan i have had and it was a little too spongy for my liking.
Here are some of the mistakes and tips you can learn from me!
- You need ALOT of flavour… if you marinate the seitan it will have more flavour, but if you don’t marinate for a few hours and just make the mix at once then use more seasoning than you would think.
- I think i should have added more liquid to my mix so that it would be easier to form into shapes and maybe not as spongy or compact and hard to cut or mold.
- If you decide to boil the seitan in a broth then make SMALL pieces. The pieces will expand alot and won’t get all the flavour if its too large pieces. Also makes it easier to fry when the pieces are smaller.
- Don’t fry on too high heat… burnt seitan tastes awful. So fry on medium/low heat with lots of oil to make the exterior have a crunch!!
Hopefully the next time will be easier and i will update if the results turn out better!! But i am going to eat the seitan i made (hopefully it wont make me sick as i think some parts aren’t fully cooked!).