Ojai22: Lessons Learned

Wellness, Health, Life

Posts Tagged ‘protein’

SEITAN and me [SAY-tahn]

Posted by ojai22 on January 5, 2010

So there I stood in front of the refrigerated section of the market, holding in my hand a very small bag of brownish spongy stuff. It said it was fully cooked.  Since going Macrobiotic I had heard about Seitan, but had no desire to learn about “wheat meat.”

I had heard how it was made from wheat flour, kneading and washing, etc., which sounded like more work than I wanted to tackle.  However, I decided to buy the little blob in a bag and see what I was missing.

Out of the bag came a shapeless mass of sponginess. I had no idea what to do with it. I had always skipped over the recipes for Seitan. I tried slicing it but got mostly little blobs which I put into a skillet with some oil to brown. It browned nicely so I tried a bite and never looked back. How many years have I been missing this stuff?!

Since it’s the gluten from whole wheat flour, why go through that long process of washing away the starch and bran? Why not just buy wheat gluten? I went online and found the internet is full of folks who know about buying Vital Wheat Gluten and making Seitan. Google Seitan and you not only get recipes, but forums and websites dedicated to the spongy stuff. Nobody doesn’t like Seitan.

I bought a box of Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten and found a recipe on back of the box.  I had  so much new info floating around my mind that I made some mistakes, of course. Made the entire box at once, instead of half of it. Forgot it said to start the broth cold and heat it up with the gluten in it slowly.  When I had it mixed, I dropped the slices into the hot liquid, put on the lid and walked away.

Awhile later I thought to check how it was doing. When I removed the lid there was this huge grayish thing that seemed to fill the pot, molded at the top in the shape of the domed lid.  The pot was too small for that much gluten and it was the largest pot I have. It looked like a giant monster brain. It  looked so funny I couldn’t stop laughing at it and wondered what would happen if I poked it.

I poked it. It started to shrink and break apart into slices again. I haven’t seen anything so comical in quite awhile. I  let it cook  a full hour then let it cool in the broth. Since then I have learned a bit more about it.

For sometime I made it this way –  One cup of gluten, moistened with 3/4 cup of water, minus 2 TBS, to  which I add 2 TBS of Tamari.  For the broth in which you cook it – Four cups  water to which I add 1/4 cup of Tamari.  It’s really terrific that way but I changed the Tamari to Soy Sauce for some Christmas Seitan and it was even better, if that’s possible. Now I only make it with Soy Sauce.

I’m sorry to say I got carried away with it. Loved it so much I ate it every day, when 2 to 3 times a week is enough. It’s protein, you get too much protein and your diet is unbalanced. I was experimenting with the kneading, and the resting, and the texture, that I didn’t realize I was eating too much of it and too little grains.  One day I looked around my house and wondered what happened to it. Why did I have piles of stuff stacked everywhere? Where was I going to put anything?  Of course my thinking was affected by my unbalanced diet.

The idea of Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy came out of nowhere.  I’ve read the book completely a few times   but mostly when I pick it up I turn to the chapters about New Hampshire. For me that section is worth it’s weight in gold. I even think  of that book and those chapters come to mind. As I read I  learned something about cravings which woke me up instantly:.

“The body craves what it needs to maintain life. In the body there is a  balance of mineral, protein, carbohydrate and water which it must maintain to go on functioning. For every part mineral, the body will crave seven parts protein; for every part protein, seven parts  carbohydrate; and for every part carbohydrate, seven parts water….When we eat protein, we must eat seven times that amount in carbohydrate in one form or another.”

If we don’t get those carbs, we start craving them.

As I was eating all this protein I  suddenly wanted bread. Ii just seemed to be a good thing to have. So I made biscuits – mixed the dough, kneaded, rolled it out, cut out the little round things and baked them. Then ate them like I was starved. I even ate  them with Seitan.  Also made Red Onion  and Pecan bread in the breadmaker. How good! Why ever did I stop eating bread?

A few days later I was visiting someone that had some lemon coffee  cake.  I remembered how much I loved lemon  and ate till I got sick of it.  At  Christmas I not only ate bread, but truffles – my favorite nut,  Macadamia, wrapped in chocolate, then  rolled in chopped nuts.   I thought I would let the sugar alone after the holidays, but planned to keep eating  bread.  Ha!

It had came quietly, subtlely, the idea of reading KC. Besides  the above quote I found what I needed to learn:

“…when bread can no longer satisfy  this craving, the body will demand even more extreme sources, such as sugar.”

A perfect description of what I had been going through for several weeks but my thinking wasn’t clear enough to see it.

This idea of craving being so subtle was something I didn’t know. I had always thought of cravings as something that grabbed you around the throat and shook your entire body. I hadn’t known how quiet a craving can be.  This sent me into new areas of thought….

It seems there has always been violence in and around my life as I am not separate from the world which is full of violence. Subtleties have always eluded me. There are so many kinds of violence besides the physical – emotional,  psychological, overt, covert –  anger is a form of violence before it even reaches the physical level …. all of these can easily overwhelm the subtleties of life.  Then I realized eating the foods that keep you from functioning at your best is an act of violence against yourself. The cravings I had for bread and sugar  were so subtle that I didn’t recognize them for what they were.  I finally understand  wholly that I must stay the course with the proper diet as it affects my thinking. If the body isn’t healthy, the brain can’t be healthy.  How can the Mind function clearly through a muddled brain? It can’t happen. Unbalanced eating equals unbalanced thinking. You can tell how the world eats by looking at the state it’s in.  You can start where you stand to make it better. You can only do it for yourself; you Have to do it for yourself. No one can do it for you.

You can Google Seitan and get lots of info, but here’s some things I learned-

One cup of Vital Wheat Gluten, NOT gluten flour, though I understand in some places gluten is called Gluten Flour  – 3/4 cup of water [minus 2 TBS]  with 2 TBS  of Soy Sauce. The liquid should be 3/4 cup in total. Put the Soy Sauce into the water and stir to mix well. Then add the liquid all at once. Stir quickly as this stuff is really thirsty. Put your hands in the bowl and finish mixing if necessary. Knead 3 to 5 minutes, forming the ‘dough’ into a small loaf about 6″ long. Let it rest a few minutes and repeat.

For each cup of gluten pour 4 cups of water into  a large pot. Add 1/4 cup Soy Sauce but no heat. Slice the roll of gluten into 1/2 inch slices. Sometimes I slice the loaf into 3 parts and cook it that way. Then I can lay the Seitan on a cutting board and slice it horizontally. It looks exactly like roast beef.  When the gluten is in the broth, start the heat slowly. When it begins to simmer adjust the heat if necessary to keep it simmering. Don’t boil the gluten. Let it cook for an hour, remove from heat and let it cool in the broth, then refrigerate in the broth.

Always. Use. A. Serrated. Knife. To. Slice. Gluten. Or. Seitan..

The Broth – this stuff is precious. Strain it and make soup. Drop in the veggies, then when they are done, drop in chunks or slivers of Seitan just to heat and you have a great soup. The broth also makes the best gravy you’ll ever taste. Use it on steamed veggies and brown rice. Or drop in some Seitan and pour it over a bowl of rice. Add a veggie side dish.  See how you can get carried away with this stuff?

I have found a source online for Vital Wheat Gluten. Price is good, and shipping okay. Here’s the URL:


They sell a 3 1/2 lb. can of gluten for 10.99. Shipping 4.49.

Here’s another URL where I’ve found good Macrobiotic products with reasonable prices:


Today I made an Old School Barley and Mushroom Soup for brunch. Hulled barley which I found at the Simply Natural site, fresh crimini mushrooms, carrots and onions. It had the most satisfying goodness, delicious and nourishing. But tonight I’m having Brown Rice, Broccoli – and SEITAN!

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