Tag Archives: seitan

kitchen successes & failures

I found myself with a strange craving for eggs the other day. I found this exceptionally bizarre because I really don’t find myself craving anything from my “pregan” days–not even cheese (though you’ll see below that I do tend to use daiya liberally nonetheless).

Not only did I want eggs, I wanted an omelette. A quick google search landed me on a potential recipe–basically, tofu scramble using silken tofu rather than extra firm–but it warned about the trickiness of flipping the “omelette” and keeping it all in tact. Silly me, I tried anyway. Here is the succession of my failure. I aptly refer to this as the tofu omelette mess:

Luckily, I don’t have too many kitchen catastrophes. I replaced tofu with seitan in my simple stir fry recipe and the results were sensational:

I’m a busy vegan lady and I don’t always have time to prepare everything from scratch. Luckily,it’s gardein and daiya to the rescue! Behold, “chicken” tender lettuce wraps with slices of daiya havarti (my number one most favoritest cheese substitute thus far):

So, that’s what I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks. How about you?

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spicy spaghetti

Some things are meant to be simple. Like Friday night dinners.

Thin spaghetti tossed with canned tomato sauce, crumbled “Italian sausage” seitan, and plenty of garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, and black pepper.

Simple is a relative term…if only I can learn to heat pasta sauce without the tomato bubbles spitting fury all over my stove.

To make up for the absence of a real post, please enjoy one of my kitties really enjoying putting-away-groceries time. What a helper!

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lettuce eat!

I tried to think of a cutesy name for my most recent creation–lettuce wrap burritos–but “lettuce” and “burrito” just don’t meld well. Letturito just doesn’t do it for me. Fortunately, what this dish’s name lacks in creativity is more than made up for in big taste. Mmm, low(er) calorie burritos encased in crisp romaine lettuce, what could be better?

The romaine I used was a little bit unruly, as you’ll see in the photos. Turning Veganese posted a recipe utilizing the same concept and I think they’re onto something over there–cabbage might be the way to go! I do ❤ romaine, though…

Vegan Lettuce Wrap Seitan Burritos
1 package Upton’s Naturals chorizo-style seitan
1 tsp vegetable oil
3 large romaine leaves
1 cup basmati rice
1 handful finely chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 can pinto beans
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 tomato, chopped
Sea salt, cumin, Tofutti sour cream, and/or taco sauce, all to taste!

In case you don’t see a theme with my recipes, I don’t like messing around. I’m impatient. I don’t like to juggle too many ingredients. It should be no surprise that this is simple to throw together. The only wrench that could be thrown in the plan is that you can’t locate chorizo-style seitan. Soyrizo is an alternative–or if you’re feeling ambitious, season your own seitan to taste chorizo-y! (It should go without saying that I am not that ambitious, so you’re on your own with that one.)

1. Prepare cilantro-lime rice. Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup basmati. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the 10 minute mark, add finely chopped cilantro and lime juice, stir, cover, and cook for 2-5 more minutes. Optional: add sea salt, like I did. I love sea salt.
2. Prepare beans of choice. I accommodated the boyfriend’s request to use pinto today but I’d normally opt for black beans. I boiled my pinto beans with cumin, salt, and pepper for 10ish minutes. I don’t really know how you’re supposed to prepare canned beans but this is what I did and it worked.
3. Finally, prepare seitan. Warm oil in a frying pan. Add seitan and crumble. Fry for about 5 minutes or until heated through.

Load up your lettuce leaves with rice, beans, seitan, and all the toppings–I opted for tomato and onion, with some hot sauce and Tofutti sour cream on the side for dipping.

Dig in!

they were easier and less messy to consume than they appear!

close-up. mmmm.

This yielded: three lettuce wraps for me, one burrito as big as your head for the boyfriend, and plenty of leftovers to satisfy one or two more meals. Isn’t it nice when something so simple yields enough for leftovers?

Happy Friday!

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philly cheeze “steak”

Do you ever crave comfort food on Mondays? I know I do–which isn’t saying much, because it seems that I crave comfort food always.

I’ve never eaten a philly cheesesteak, so in all likelihood, the recipe below will bear zero resemblance to any philly cheesesteak you’ve ever eaten. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe my instincts were spot on and your bad vegan self can get down with cheesesteak once again! Regardless of how cheesesteak-y this meal truly was, I can tell you one thing: it was delicious.

I told my boyfriend that this recipe came to me in a dream, which is only half a lie: I was daydreaming about food at work and then this pang for something–I wasn’t quite sure what–hit me. Suddenly, A1 steak sauce sounded divine.

But steak sauce! you cry. That’s not vegan! In fact, it is. Though many steak sauces use Worcestershire, which isn’t vegan, this one does not. I’m finding more and more that the seasonings, rubs, and sauces we use to prepare meat–the very tastes I have always associated with meat–are incredibly meat, dairy, and egg-free much of the time.

I first discovered this when I had to try my hand at making a homemade taco seasoning because the storebought seasoning packet contained a milk derivative. I had no idea, before that fateful day, that I could season soy crumbles with anything to make them taste so meat-like. And then the light bulb turned on. Much like we season veggies to taste good, we season meat. Honestly, a decaying slab of dead flesh couldn’t possibly taste good without help. This sounds like a no-brainer, but for years, the tastes of certain spices and sauces were the taste of meat to me. I couldn’t tell you anymore what meat in its unseasoned state tastes like. Taco meat tastes like cumin. Steak tastes like A1, or cracked peppercorn. I’m starting to have some fun in the kitchen with this concept. A1! Not just for steak anymore!

Maybe what I created in the kitchen tonight was more of a simple “steak” sandwich, but I used a heaping amount of cheeze so I’m going with the philly cheesesteak theme.

Philly Cheeze Seitan
serves 2

2 sub rolls
1 package seitan
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 yellow onion, or onion of your choosing, sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp veg oil for frying
a generous dose of A1 steak sauce
a generous amount of Daiya pepperjack cheeze
approx. 1 tbsp Vegenaise, spread on one side of each sub roll

Preheat oven to 400. Slice sub rolls in half lengthwise and set them aside on a pan. Slice your veggies and warm your oil in a frying pan. Sautee green pepper and onion in oil and garlic for a few minutes. Add crumbled (or sliced) seitan and continue to fry.

Add as much A1 as your heart desires.

When veggies are to your liking and seitan is heated through, scoop onto one side of each sub roll.

Add as much daiya as your digestive tract can handle.  Bake for 5-10 minutes until daiya is melted.

Spread a thin layer of vegenaise on the top portion of each bun, cut in half, and chow down!

Instead of the cheeze + vegenaise combo, you can be more ambitious than I was and turn your daiya into a cheeze sauce. You just need a little bit of earth balance, a little bit of plain soy milk, and a lot of cheeze.

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scramble in the morning, scramble in the evening…

scramble at supper time… when tofu’s in your scramble, you can eat scramble any time!

I’m well aware that tofu scramble is a tried-and-true, and frankly, quite boring meal. Every vegan has their tofu scramble. Ho hum, nothing new here. I know this, yet I am going to write about tofu scramble for at least the second time, because I have recently discovered a product that takes tofu scramble from drab to fab!

I have already written about the fantastic health food store I stumbled upon last weekend, The Fruitful Yield. I had to make my second trip today because I needed a few things–and really, I just wanted to explore again. It’s amazing how I intend on picking up one item and I walk out with a full bag-o’-stuffs. It’s just hard to resist temptation when they have so many items I haven’t found anywhere else. I picked up three (THREE!) packages of the Upton’s Naturals seitan because at $3.09 a pack (I think prices went down?), it’s just impossible to beat. West Soy retails around here for about $7 per pack. I cannot resist a delicious, locally-owned company that puts out a wonderful seitan for over half the price. Just can’t do it!

I also walked out with cultured almond milk yogurt, pepperjack daiya (which I absolutely didn’t need, but it was there…and I’ve never seen it before in the flesh!), and two larabars (also didn’t need…but my boyfriend seemed pretty excited about the find so it was hard to say no). My total was only $20. I think that’s pretty rad. They also have vegan parmesan which I resisted the urge to buy–but good to know that it’s there! I find new things each visit I make.

The second grocery store we went to had more fantastic deals like 4 for $5 mangos, 3 kiwis for $1, discount walnut halves, the list could go on. I’m a very happy vegan today. I also recently stumbled upon a local farmstand that is open on Saturdays starting in May. The only Farmer’s Market I know of is only held on Fridays, which is a major bummer considering it’s a one block walk from me and I never get to check it out because of my work schedule. But finding this farm is really great news. I can’t wait to check out some locally grown organic veggies in just a month!

So let me get back to my point: this Upton’s Naturals chorizo-flavored seitan is what has taken my tofu scramble from drab to fab. I have made two scrambles this week, which shouldn’t be surprising if you’ve been following this blog–I tend to overdo foods I love, and seitan has quickly become one of my favorite meat replacements. I am guilty of frequently eating tofu scramble for dinner and then reheating the leftovers for breakfast (sometimes for a few days, depending on how much I cook at any given time). I’m a big advocate of planned leftovers. It makes the next day so easy! Completely takes the stress out of figuring out your meals for the day.

Without further ado, I call this simple scramble the This Is My Everest Seitan Scramble.

serves 3-4, or more!

1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 package Upton’s Naturals chorizo-style seitan
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 crown broccoli cut into florets
1/4 to 1/2 yellow onion, diced
4-5 squirts Braggs liquid aminos
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp veg oil, for frying
optional: baby spinach leaves or other green leafy veg

You know the tofu scramble drill: warm your oil, fry your veggies and seitan for a few minutes, crumble the tofu, spray your Braggs, add your seasonings, and fry until your veggies are at desired consistency (I like mine slightly crisp) and tofu is heated through and uniformly seasoned. Tada!

pre-tofu. I won’t lie to you, I nearly considered eating as is because the seitan is that good

the turmeric and nooch give it that yellowy egg-like color

If you’re a single person like myself, you’ll have leftovers for the next several breakfasts. If you’re feeding others, this should satisfy a family of four. My boyfriend doesn’t like his veggies as crisp as I like mine, so the good news is this scramble is all mine. 🙂

it’s even carnivore-approved!

I’m thoroughly convinced my cats don’t even know what meat is. Whenever my boyfriend does happen to eat meat here and tries to give the cats a taste, they just sort of look at it and push it around with their paws. However, whenever there’s seitan in the house, they know something’s up! That’s how meat-like this product is. The texture is the best part: if you’ve ever eaten true Wisconsin cheese curds, it’s kinda like that. It almost squeaks when you bite into it. It’s a very appetizing texture. Don’t take it from me, though! Eat some seitan already! Your tummy will thank me.

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happy accidents

When I came to WordPress this morning to scribble down my most recent post, I didn’t intend for it to turn into what it did. I actually had much more to write about in the vein of positivity, and since I’ve had a couple of hours to relax, think about things, and take a nice walk, I’m going to do just that!

Don’t you love happening upon wonderful things accidentally? Like window shopping on a whim and stumbling upon a rustic antique or a beautiful piece of jewelry you otherwise wouldn’t have found? Yesterday, by complete happenstance, I came across my new favorite grocery store. It’s called The Fruitful Yield and it’s Chicago-based, but they also have an online store (check it out!) We had already completed the week’s grocery shopping and then had a few other errands to run. We found ourselves about 10 minutes from my place at Target, and we saw a sign for The Fruitful Yield. My ears perked up. I’m always interested in finding new health food stores because Whole Foods is such a hike (and so expensive). There is another local health foods store but their prices are very expensive (moreso than Whole Foods, I think) and it’s very small, so their selection isn’t the best. I usually only buy things like seitan and agave nectar there because my local grocery store is actually pretty great with vegan items. They carry Earth Balance and have a nice selection of natural/organic foods, so I try to get most of my items there. But, still, another health foods store? I had to check it out.

When we pulled into the parking lot I could see tons of people inside, which was surprising because when we frequent the other health foods store I mentioned, we’re usually the only customers. We stepped inside and the first thing I noticed were aisles upon aisles upon aisles of supplements. I later found out, from talking with the clerk who rang us up, that they started as a supplement shop and then expanded to more of a grocery store with 11 Chicagoland locations. This particular store opened in October and he said they’re getting newbie customers on the daily. I was first looking for a vegan multivitamin but was quite overwhelmed by all of the other supplements, so I decided to just browse the remainder of the store, unsure of what I’d find. Every time I turned a corner, there was more to see. They have quite an expansive selection. Tons of gluten-free items. Tons of vegetarian and vegan items. I wasn’t going to pick anything up until I saw a dark chocolate/salted almond candy bar. Of course I couldn’t resist. From there, I happened upon a jar of virgin coconut oil. This has been on my radar for a while but I couldn’t get excited about paying $10 for it. At this store, however, the coconut oil was $7.99. I picked it up and said to my boyfriend, “We may as well…I mean, it’s right here.” The true test, I knew, would be the cold section. My local grocery store doesn’t carry any soy yogurt, nor do they carry the So Delicious! cultured coconut milk I love so dearly. Well, The Fruitful Yield had both of those things. Picked them up. By this time, I was cursing myself for not picking up a basket or a shopping cart because both of our arms were getting quite full.

The only place I’ve found seitan in my area is Whole Foods and the other health foods store we go to. They’ve only carried West Soy brand and the prices are around $7.00/pack. This is expensive and I’ve started to consider trying to make my own seitan at home as a result. We both agreed that if they happened to have seitan, we’d get a few packs. They did, in fact, have seitan–but not West Soy. They had a different brand called Upton’s Naturals (a Chicago-based brand) and each pack was only $3.99. Um, yes please. We picked up a “regular” flavor and a chorizo flavor, which I plan to stick in my next tofu scramble. They had daiya, tofutti products, tofutti pizza for crying out loud! They had not only the Amy’s cheeseless pizza, but also the Amy’s “cheeze” pizza, which I did not know existed. I decided I’d already picked up enough vegan junkfood/convenience foods for the time being, but it’s so wonderful to know that this resource exists in my community! If they had a bigger produce section, I’d say I could do almost all of my shopping there. It was a wonderfully pleasant experience. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when we left. They had so many items and made my grocery shopping efforts so simple. I usually go to 3-4 stores to get everything I need and that’s a pain in the ass. Now I know I can just shop there in addition to my regular grocery store. That will cut my time in half. And the prices, for the most part, were incredibly reasonable.

They’re even hiring for a smoothie bar/sales clerk position at another location nearby. I almost considered applying for the part time position because a) it would be nice to have some supplemental income and b) I think it would be a blast.

So now my question to you all is, what do you do with coconut oil? I’ve read a lot about it but I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I know it’s a great skincare product but I’m more interested in cooking with it than anything else. Can anyone shed any light?

What’s the happiest accident you’ve ever stumbled upon in the way of shopping (or otherwise!)?

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food, guilt, and glory

I’ve been feeling a little guilty about what I’ve been eating lately, and with good reason. My cooking has gotten lazy and sloppy. I haven’t had one of my green smoothie breakfasts in a few weeks. I’ve been forgetting to sprinkle ground flaxseed on my oatmeal. I’m pretty much the worst vegan. I feel especially bad when I see posts like this where the fruit and veggies look so good but I can’t pinpoint why I’ve stopped trying. I had a great time acquainting myself with all sorts of new meals when I first went the vegan route but it seems like now, all I have any interest in eating is vegan cupcakes, fried seitan, and carbs. Whoops.

So in an effort to change all that… I went to the store today and picked up a bunch of fresh produce with great intentions to cook some delicious meals this week. However, the grocery store is out of kale. It seems like every time I have plenty of kale at home, so do they. But then when I show up, kaleless, requiring a bunch of it, it’s all gone. Ugh. Stupid.

Since I haven’t been eating the most balanced meals, I don’t have a whole lot of food to report from the past week…but I will share the few pictures I do have.

I discovered that I have an affinity for the Indonesian Peanut Sautee at Noodles & Co so I tried to recreate it at home. This wasn’t exactly a home run. I used rice noodles, broccoli, green beans, red and green bell peppers, water chestnuts, tofu, bean sprouts, and a bottled peanut satay sauce. The sauce was not great. I am in search of a spicy peanut stir fry sauce I can make it home on the cheap & easy. If you can address this need of mine, lemme know!

On my way home from work the other day, I received email notification that one of the lovely ladies over at Turning VEGANese had posted this and thought, man that sounds good. I skimmed the post at stop lights and decided to make a pitstop at the grocery store to pick up some peppers. I stuffed mine with arborio rice, kidney beans, lightlife protein crumbles seasoned with homemade taco seasoning, and I baked in the peppers for about 30 minutes, topping with some daiya cheddar for the last 5 or so minutes. It was delicious.

The rest of the food this week that goes unpictured was mostly takeout. I hate myself for that. I also made some more buffalo fried seitan on Friday because I like to treat myself on the weekend and that has quickly become one of my favorite meals. I also, against my better judgment, picked up one of these at the grocery store and made it for lunch:

Was this worth the 7.79 I spent on it? Um, hell yeah. I’m ashamed that I succumbed to paying that much money for pizza, but damn it if it wasn’t delicious. I had never had any of the Amy’s Kitchen products and I can now say with certainty that I know what all the fuss is about! I chalked this up to a need for some major comfort food after a very odd and offputting craving for mac & cheese. I used to love cheese and I think I pretty much ate it every day at some capacity while I was a vegetarian. Since adopting a vegan diet, I have had zero cravings for cheese (despite occasionally using daiya and teese…but honestly, I have not once really NEEDED cheese)…until today. I wanted it in the worst way. So I got this Amy’s pizza and it, in all its cheeseless glory, completely satisfied me.

My boyfriend and I went for a nice 30 minute walk this morning as the weather is just gorgeous. Thank god, it dipped down into the 60s this weekend. I was getting really tired of the 80 degree March days. It is just the perfect temperature for open windows. No sweat or misery today, and the sun is shining.

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food & friends

As I mentioned in my last post, there was a lot of food made for my small gathering of four last night. I made salsa, quinoa black bean dip, buffalo fried seitan with vegan ranch, four individual-sized pita pizzas, cookies, and my friends brought a veggie tray with hummus. I thought for sure I would have a ton leftover. I should’ve known better! There was virtually nothing leftover aside from some quinoa black bean dip and a few cookies. The veggie tray was mostly finished off, but I sent what little was left home with my friends last night. The most satisfying part is that my friend’s husband, an omnivore, ate almost ALL of the buffalo seitan and vegan ranch. He loved it! That, to me, is the biggest compliment. He also loved the vegan cookies. I’m so pleased!

I meant to take a picture of ALL the food but unfortunately, in my haste, I didn’t capture it all. I do have a few photos though…

fresh salsa (I used this recipe minus the serano chiles)

quinoa black bean dip (I used this recipe and served cold)

rocky road cookies (I used this recipe and subbed in macademia nuts in place of peanuts)

Unpictured: four pita pizzas, buffalo fried seitan with vegan ranch, veggies, hummus, and of course, beer.

I may have eaten two cookies for breakfast this morning. But then we went on a 35 minute walk so I don’t feel too bad. It’s been about four days of lots of good food (too good) so it’s back to the grind tomorrow. If only food wasn’t so darn tasty!

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(Wheat) meat & potatoes, green smoothies & more!

It’s been a big weekend of food experimentation at chez moi. It has become a weekend tradition to use Saturday afternoon to complete what my boyfriend so lovingly refers to as “the grocery tour.” You see, Whole Foods is quite a distance away but there are several smaller health food stores with less of a selection. And then there’s that whole I’m-on-a-budget thing, so I try to buy as much as I can at the big box stores. It’s not uncommon to stop at three (or four!) stores to stock up on weekly necessities. Yesterday was Jewel, Fresh Market and a local health foods store. I spent a ton of money! And I got tons of things I’ve never eaten, much less prepared…like kale! And brussels sprouts! And seitan! We also bought a new blender. The blender I’d been using is a hand-me-down that must be 15 years old. It was time for an upgrade! And since, sadly, a Vitamix is out of the question, I settled on taking a risk with buying a Magic Bullet. Yes, an “As Seen on TV” item. What is the world coming to? My coworker swears by it and honestly, anything would be an upgrade compared to the sad excuse of a blender sitting in my cabinet collecting dust. But more on that later!

The pièce de résistance of the weekend was my first rendez-vous with seitan. I borrowed this recipe because I was incredibly intrigued and I knew my boyfriend would approve. He loves buffalo wings and I knew, if I could pull it off, he’d love it. The risk was preparing roasted red potatoes and brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts get a bad rap and since I’ve never in my life eaten them, I was sure I could beat the odds and make them delicious. I don’t think I succeeded. I quartered the potatoes and mixed them with the brussels sprouts in EVOO, sea salt, pepper and garlic, cooked for 30 minutes at 400, and the potatoes were delish–but the sprouts left a lot to be desired. I don’t think I necessarily prepared them badly. And I don’t think it was the taste that necessarily turned both of us off. It’s just the texture. Not a fan of the mushy interior. But I did choke down about 3, which is more than I can say about the boyfriend!

The seitan, on the other hand, was a huge hit. I can’t believe how close to the texture of actual chicken seitan is. I’d never eaten it before and it was quite shocking. I had my doubts when I opened the package–the stuff doesn’t look too appetizing, but when all was said and done, it was very tasty!

Other notable finds from yesterday’s “grocery tour” include biscoff cookies, which I’ve been in constant pursuit of since early January (and I’m super excited to find that they have a coffee stand on Pier 39 in San Fran because we’ll be taking a vacation there at the end of April), and a spicy cayenne Theo bar! I’d only been able to find the salted almond previously. Next up will be the coconut Theo bar and then my chocolate fix will be satisfied. 🙂

This morning, I broke out the new Magic Bullet to prepare my first-ever green smoothie. Because the Magic Bullet is so small, you can only prepare one drink at a time. My boyfriend wasn’t very interested in the green part so I modified his recipe–no kale, and he doesn’t do well with citrus fruits so I nixed the orange from his too. Mine was about half a pear, about a quarter of an apple, a few sections of an orange, some kale, about half a banana, and 1/2 cup almond milk. I originally picked up some West Soy soymilk because it was on sale but after opening it and seeing the color/smelling the scent, I quickly opted out of that. It smelled awful and looked even worse. So, the before picture is a bit misleading:

I also didn’t wind up using that much kale since only one of the smoothies wound up being of the green variety.

The result was interesting. I wasn’t quite as impressed with the Magic Bullet as my coworker is. The kale never blended smoothly so there were chunks of it in the finished product. The taste wasn’t bad–I didn’t mind it much at all, in fact–but the texture wasn’t very appealing. I blended and blended and blended some more and it still never really was smooth. And since my boyfriend didn’t want anything of color added to his, his finished product was the color of flesh which doesn’t scream “yum!” to me.

I do feel very healthy after having consumed that as a substitute to my morning coffee! It wasn’t a total meal replacement, I’m embarrassed to admit…I did wind up eating a small bit of hashbrowns as well. 😛

All in all, it was a satisfying weekend of yummy, new foods. Today will be another lazy Sunday capped off with my yoga + book club. I missed class last week because of some bizarre stomach pains/chest pains that I think were just the result of acid reflux. Blah. I feel guilty for missing class so I’m going to really try to make the most of tonight’s class.

Did you eat anything tasty this weekend?

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