Searching for a healthy vegan meat alternative? If you're switching to a plant-based diet or looking for a new source of protein to add to your weekly meals, seitan is an excellent option. Seitan, commonly referred to as "wheat meat," has been around for years and has transformed into a popular vegan and vegetarian meat option. As the name suggests, seitan is made from wheat; however, it does not share many similarities with flour or bread. When cooked, seitan takes on a similar texture and look to meat, making it the perfect substitute in various dishes. While seitan is a popular plant-based meat option, it does contain gluten and should not be consumed by those who have a gluten allergy.
What Is Seitan?
If you purchase plant-based products often, then the chances are you've tried seitan before. A popular base for vegetarian and vegan products, seitan is used to create vegetarian deli meat, bacon, ground beef and even meatless sausages. Seitan can be found in various styles, making it easy to create a vegetarian/vegan version of your favorite dishes. Most commonly prepared by hand using whole wheat flour or vital wheat gluten, the starch in seitan is rinsed away from the wheat dough, leaving behind a portion of high-protein gluten.
What Does Seitan Taste Like?
Like tempeh, seitan has a savory, meat-like taste similar to a portobello mushroom or chicken. When cooked, this mild flavor makes it easy to combine with several different ingredients and modify it to fit various cuisines. Cook up sweet, savory or spicy seitan recipes and recreate your favorite dishes like BBQ ribs and burgers. The versatility that seitan offers and its meat-like texture has contributed to its rise in popularity over the years, making it a favorite compared to other alternatives like tofu and tempeh.
How to Cook Seitan
Don’t know how to cook seitan? Whether you choose to make your seitan at home or purchase it pre-made, it's crucial that you always cook it before serving up your meal. Though seitan is ideal for vegetarian and vegan dishes, it can be used in almost any cuisine. Choose to pan-fry your seitan with some soy sauce for an Asian-inspired dish, or simmer it with curry to create delicious Indian-inspired cuisine. Seitan can be cooked in several different ways, from outdoor grilling to boiling and frying. When cooking with this meat substitute, step out of your kitchen comfort zone and add it to a variety of fun and flavorful recipes.
Using Seitan in Recipes
When preparing seitan, many of the recipes you'll make are vegetarian and vegan ones. Many plant-based meals call for seitan, similar to the way tofu is used. It can be cut into nearly any shape and modified to fit almost every cuisine. Because seitan boasts a meat-like flavor and texture, it makes for an excellent plant-based meat alternative. That being said, to properly add seitan to your dishes, you need to know how to cook it in the first place. To ensure that your seitan cooking adventures are a success, start with this Basic Seitan Recipe before adding the desired flavorings and ingredients.
Where to Buy Seitan
Don't have the time to make seitan at home? The good news is, prepared seitan can be found at nearly every health food store. If you're shopping for prepared seitan, start by looking in the refrigerated section. Similar to how tofu is packaged and sold, seitan can usually be found in a tub or sealed inside a plastic box. After discovering where this meat substitute is kept, you'll need to decide what kind you'd like to purchase. Seitan often comes in a variety of flavors and textures, and buying it with a dish in mind will help you determine which style best suits your recipe needs. Additionally, if you're having trouble finding seitan at a grocery store nearby, try doing a quick internet search. Seitan can often be purchased online as a refrigerated product or a dry mix.
Lastly, if you can't seem to find a good seitan product near you, make it yourself! Creating and preparing seitan is a straightforward process that doesn't require much time. After just a few attempts, we're confident that you'll be able to create the perfect seitan each time you make it.
How to Store Seitan
Homemade and store-bought seitan require different storing methods. If you choose to make a homemade batch of basic seitan, you'll want to place leftovers in an airtight container. Homemade seitan will keep in the refrigerator for a few days before spoiling. If you've purchased seitan at your local health food store, be sure to look at the expiration date and specific storing instructions on your packages. Prepared seitan will likely need to be refrigerated. Or, if you'd like it to keep for longer, it can be frozen for up to three months.
Seitan Nutritional Information
Still asking the question “is seitan healthy?” In short, seitan is an excellent addition to any diet. Loaded with nutritional value, just a half-cup serving of this vegan meat alternative provides about 46 grams of protein. It is also low in carbohydrates and fat, making it a favorite amongst individuals following a low-carb diet. While seitan is a great alternative to traditional meat-based meals, it lacks certain essential amino acids. This being, you'll want to combine it with other protein sources to make sure your meal is providing you with a source of complete protein.
Seitan vs. Tempeh
Though seitan and tempeh can be used in similar ways, the two ingredients are very different. One of the most significant differences is that seitan is made from wheat gluten flour, whereas tempeh is made from soy. Because seitan contains gluten, it should not be enjoyed by individuals with a gluten allergy. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, then seitan is not the meat alternative for you. Instead, we recommend munching on other plant-based meat alternatives like tofu, tempeh and legumes. Because tempeh and tofu are soy-based products, they can be enjoyed by individuals struggling with gluten intolerance. Additionally, tempeh is a fermented food, which means that it is a bit easier on your digestive system.
Can People with a Soy Allergy Enjoy Seitan?
If you're someone who is following a plant-based diet and has a soy allergy, then several popular foods like tofu, edamame and tempeh are likely off-limits. While this may limit the variety of plant-based meat alternatives you consume, it shouldn't limit your recipes. Seitan is an excellent protein source for vegans and vegetarians who are allergic to soy. Because it's made from wheat and not soy, it's okay for those with soy allergies to eat.
Benefits of Seitan
There are several benefits of adding seitan to your recipes. Continue reading to learn more about this wonder ingredient and why it should be incorporated into a healthy diet.
Seitan Is Low in Calories
Seitan is low in calories, making it a great choice of protein to add to meals if you are looking to keep things light. That being, calories are nearly the only thing seitan is low in. It's loaded with nutritional value and protein that make it a healthy addition to any recipe.
Seitan Is High in Protein
When first beginning a plant-based diet, finding a reliable and flavorful source of protein may be a bit of a challenge when making a vegan recipe. With meat entirely off the menu, you'll want to search for healthy substitutes that will provide you with enough protein to keep you healthy and strong—seitan is an excellent example of that! Just a half a cup serving provides nearly 46 grams of it!
Seitan Is Versatile
The unique texture and flavor of seitan make it easy to work it into nearly any dish. Grill it up outdoors for a BBQ-inspired meal, or crumble it up and add it to your favorite soup recipe. We're sure that no matter how you enjoy seitan, you will love it.
Seitan Is High in Vitamins
As we stated earlier, seitan boasts some pretty impressive nutritional benefits. High in vitamins B, C, calcium and iron, it's an easy way to receive a boost of nutrients without a ton of effort.
Now that you know the top seitan nutrition facts, how it's made, and the benefits of adding it to your recipes, it's time to start eating it. Whether you choose to make seitan at home or purchase it from the store, adding it to your meals is easy. Before making your first batch of seitan, we recommend finding a recipe you enjoy. Heading to the store with a recipe in mind will help ensure that you have all the ingredients and flavorings needed to make your next plant-based meal a success. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, we hope you have a healthy and happy day!
Have a seitan recipe that you'd like to share with us? We'd love to hear more about how you cook with this popular meat alternative. Let us know how you use seitan in the comments below.