Say it with me: "Say-tahn"

Herb stuffed Seitan Loaf with Mushroom Chickpea Gravy

Pet Peeve #1: Being asked if I’m anemic
Recently I was asked (again) is I was anemic because I was a vegetarian. Really people? Anemia is from a lack of iron, not a lack of meat. Soybeans, spinach, oats, and beans are just a few of a long list of non-animal items loaded with iron and my diet contains tons of each of those so no, I am not anemic.

Pet Peeve #2: Being asked if I get enough protein
A few people have expressed their grave concern for my apparent lack of protein recently. Again…really? How can people still be so naive? And everyone wonders why they are all sick. I digress… Meat is not the only thing that contains protein my loves. I can’t even stand to begin this lecture again so here is a super quick list of foods that have significant amounts of protein that are not from animals: chick peas, soybeans, lentils, kidney beans, barley, brown rice, oatmeal, wheat, wild rice, broccoli, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts….the list goes on and on.

Pet Peeve #3: People being shocked that I know the list of items I just quoted
This bothers me only because it assumes that I’m an idiot. And I am not. I have been extremely interested in nutrition for the past 6 years and in the past 2 years, as I learned the benefits of the lifestyle I now subscribe to, I have dived head first into learning. So, I don’t really care that your doctor told you to eat read meat because you are anemic. That’s not the best advice. Most of the people I share recipes and health advice with know more about nutrition than your doctor. I’m not trying to be a bitch, but it’s true.

I will stop before I climb to the top level of my soapbox and I’ll save the lecture for another day. On to something much more fun. Seitan. I did it! I made my own Seitan loaf this Thanksgiving and holy heck it was AMAZING. I’ve been a fan of veggie-meat for a while but it’s so effing expensive and I just prefer to make things from scratch anyway. (Cheaper and better for you.) I followed Vegan Dad’s recipe almost exactly with a few small changes. I wanted to use regular bread stuffing instead and I served vegan gravy with it (recipe for that later). Here is how the Seitan recipe ended up:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. vital wheat gluten
1/4 c. nutritional yeast (aka “nooch”)
1/2 tsp. garlic juice (as in from the minced garlic jar)
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. soy milk
2 tbs. canola oil
1/4 tsp. white vinegar
Prepared herb stuffing (about 2 cups)

1. Bring water to a boil in a steamer
2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl
3. In a larger bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Add dry mix to wet slowly mixing with a wooden spoon until combined.
If the dough is too wet add a little extra wheat gluten. It should feel kind of like pizza dough: soft and pliable but holding together in a big lump
4. Spread a little wheat gluten or flour on a board and transfer dough to it. Using your fingers, spread it into a rectange about 1/2 inch thick. Make sure the width will fit in your steamer!
5. Put the stuffing in a line down the center of the rectangle. Compress the stuffing with your hands so that it will form a solid center. Roll the seitan around the stuffing being careful not to create any holes. Don’t roll it like a jelly roll, fold the sides up over the stuffing and then seal the seitan. Make sure it is sealed well along the seam and the ends.
6. Transfer the roll to a sheet of aluminum foil and roll the seitan in it wrapping it like a tootsie roll.
7. Place in the steamer for 40 minutes, turning after 20. (His recipe calls for 30 minutes, turning after 15 but I accidentally forgot and it still turned out really well. I’m sure his timing works well too but I want to tell you how I did it.) Preheat the oven to 350 while the seitan is steaming.
8. Transfer to the oven and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
9. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing with a very sharp chef’s knife.
Serve with your favorite gravy

For the gravy, I really liked how Vegan Yum Yum’s Mushroom Gravy looked but I wanted something really thick so I stole the idea of adding chickpeas from PPK’s Vegan with a Vengeance. This recipe ended up being a complete on the spur of the moment deal and it turned out so delicious that I cannot wait to make it again. Enjoy:

Ingredients

1 can organic chick peas, pureed in a food processor
1 c. Cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
2 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 stem fresh thyme, leaves only
3 tbs. Earth Balance Vegan Butter
3 tbs. flour
1 c. vegetable broth
soymilk, for thinning
black pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste

1. Heat oil in skillet. Add garlic, onion, and mushrooms, and herbs. Cook until onions turn clear.
2. Transfer mix to food processor and mix until smooth and creamy
3. Using the same pan, with the heat on low, add earth balance and flour to create a roux (paste). Slowly add the vegetable broth whisking the entire time until the mixture is smooth. Turn the heat up to medium and slowly whisk in spoonfuls of the chickpea puree and mushroom puree. Go slowly until you reach the desired thickness you prefer. I used about 3/4 of each. You can use bits of soymilk to thin the gravy if you make it too thick. Season with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne to taste.

This meal turned out so delicious and extremely filling! I’m still eating it 2 days later and it’s keeping really well in the fridge. I cannot wait to make it again and to try other variations. Mr. Beagle thinks we should try to make a “ground” seitan to use for nachos and spaghetti. He also thinks that mixing in a little Italian dressing to the dough would give it a good, marinated, flavor. I cannot wait to experiment.

Get your facts straight: Seitan 101

1. Seitan is derived from the protein portion of wheat.
2. If you’ve ever eaten “mock” chicken, pork, or duck at a Chinese restaurant, you’ve eaten Seitan
3. A 100 g. serving contains 18% protein, less than 1% saturated fat, and 118 calories (half the calories of 100 g. of beef.)
4. It was developed by a vegetarian Buddhist monk as a meat substitute. It is as extremely versatile in recipes.
5. Some vegans/vegetarians don’t like it because the texture is so similar to real meat. But that makes it a wondeful stand in for those making the transition or who enjoy the thicker texture but not the cruelty/heath detriments of real meat.

Homemade Dark Hot Chocolate

At 9:35pm tonight…

Me: Are you hungry?
Mr. Beagle: No, I just ate Taco Bell. But if you wait a bit I will probably get hungry again. Why? Do you want me to cook you something? (Ladies, let’s take a second to appreciate the string of questions he asked. Le swoon.)
Me: No, it’s okay.
Mr. Beagle: What do you want?
Me: I was thinking of trying to make fried rice. We have cans of peas and carrots in the pantry.
Mr. Beagle: I don’t know how to make fried rice.
Me: Me neither. I could look up a recipe. Or we could just use yellow rice, which would be pretty good too.
-Silence for a few minutes-
Me: Nevermind, I’m not really hungry.
Mr. Beagle: Yes you are.
Mr: Yeah, but only Fatty Fat Faces eat at 9:40pm. It’s too late for dinner. (“Fatty Fat Face” is the pet name for my binge-eating alter ego. FYI.)
Mr. Beagle: You’re right. You’re gigantic. Can you move over please, you’re crushing my ribs…
Mr. Beagle: Ugh, if you’re hungry just go make something!
Me: No, it’s too late. I’m not giving in.
Mr. Beagle: What about if I go take a shower and you go to the store and get us some hot cocoa mix?
Me: Hm…or I could just make hot cocoa from scratch!
Mr. Beagle: I don’t know, I don’t think we have any milk left babe.
Me: That’s okay, I’ll make it vegan!

So he went to shower and I started looking up the basics of vegan hot cocoa. I figured I had the ingredients: cocoa, soy milk, water, sugar… seems easy enough.

After scouring google’s top hits I decided to just start experimenting based on the most commonly used measurements. After taste-testing I decided that it wasn’t chocolate-y enough or spicy enough and started my tweaking by adding some spices and extra cocoa. I also decided that I wanted it super thick. Like, Starbucks chocolate shot thick. None of that watered down, from a paper package crap for us! Here is what I came up with, which, in my opinion, is the best non-dairy hot chocolate that you will ever taste.

Ingredients:

1/2 c. hot water
5 tbs. cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
5 tbs. organic sugar
dash nutmeg
dash salt
1 1/4 c. vanilla soymilk

In a small pot combine all ingredients except vanilla soy milk. Stirring continually, bring the mixture to a low simmer until all parts are combined. Stir in the vanilla soymilk. Continue stirring until combined and hot but do not allow it to boil.

*I used Silk Nonfat Vanilla, if you use plain soy milk you will want to add extra sweetener and a bit of vanilla extract

I would love to figure out how to make this using powdered soy milk. Then I could give it away as a gift. Anyone experimented with that before? I’d love to know how it turned out for you! I also think this recipe would be amazing with a bit of peppermint extract or a bit of espresso powder. Again, it’s a very simple recipe that you can get super creative with. Let me know what you dream up!

….Soapbox rant ahead:
Repeat after me… “dairy is for big fat cows” 😉 Couldn’t resist. But seriously, are you a baby cow? No? Then it wasn’t made for you. Dairy makes you fat just like a cow, are you seeing the connection? Good, we’re making progress. Moving on…

Nom Rating:

Mr. Beagle: A
He said he would have given it an A+ if I’d added little marshmallows.

Me: A+
I’m a picky hot cocoa drinker and I’ve always hated the in-a-package-mix-with-water-and-microwave kinds. I’m more of a thick, rich, and creamy kind of hot cocoa girl and this was perfect. It was actually so decadent that I couldn’t finish my cup. It’s sure to please those who have an aversion to soymilk. Mr. Beagle won’t drink soy milk but really liked this.

In-A-Snap Cupcakes


vanilla cupcakes with chocolate peanut butter centers and swirl icicng

For the hottie totties in a hurry, I present to you a super simple, super yummy, super nothing cupcake recipe. I say ‘nothing’ because these little babies are free of all kinds of allergens such as dairy, peanuts and tree nuts. (They would be free of peanuts but I added peanut butter. So if you want peanut free, add something else instead.) I whipped these up in the spare minutes I had before heading out to a friend’s birthday party.

Before I get hate mail let me explain: yes I used a cake mix. The point of this recipe is to be quick and simple but still meet the needs of a wide variety of lifestyles. Proving that delicious, healthy, vegan, baked goods don’t need to take hours.

The great thing about these are that you could really do whatever filling/flavor you want. The cake mix is vanilla flavored so it’s basically a blank canvas for you to create on. I chose dark chocolate peanut butter just because I wanted to try it. (I’ve been seeing all these delicious specialty peanut butters on everyone’s blogs and I decided it was time for me to join the masses.)

So, this recipe is really just for inspiration. I want you to see that it is so easy to make something really delicious and a little fancy but still vegan and gluten-free. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 box Gluten Free Dreams vanilla cake mix
1 package Gluten Free Dreams vanilla icing (which ended up being more like a glaze)
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter (the brand I bought was dairy free)
Earth Balance Butter Replacement
Cupcake cups

1. Preheat the oven and line a cupcake pan with cups
2. Prepare the cake mix according to instructions
3. Fill the cupcake cups 3/4 full (this will make them rise to the perfect height for icing)
4. Drop a small dollop of peanut butter in the center of each cup and swirl it around using a toothpick
5. Bake according to instructions
6. Remove from pan and allow to fully cool
7. Using a butter knife, spread a few lines of peanut butter on the inside of an icing bag
8. Fill the rest of the bag with the vanilla icing
9. Pipe icing onto cupcakes (I used the big star tip. Since this icing is more like glaze, it will not stay standing tall. You may want to just warm it up and drizzle it over. Be creative!)

Variations:
Stawberries and Cream: Replace peanut butter with strawberry preserves and garnish with sliced berries
Hazelnut Dreams: Replace peanut butter with Nutella and sprinkle crushed hazelnuts on top to garnish
Polkadops: Drop chocolate chips into the batter before cooking and garnish the top with them
Raspberry Bites: Replace peanut butter with raspberry preserves and top each iced cupcake with a sugar dipped raspberry
…the possibilities are endless