Vegetarian Weight Loss Food: Seitan
Seitan is one of the most overlooked high-protein, low-calorie, vegetarian weight loss foods. Admittedly, if you have an intolerance for wheat gluten, this is not the food for you. However, if gluten is not an issue, definitely read on about how (and why) you can incorporate this vegetarian weight loss food into your menu.
What is seitan?
Seitan, which is also commonly referred to as wheat meat and wheat protein, is made from gluten, the primary protein found in wheat. To make seitan, wheat flour dough is washed with water until the starch has been removed, leaving behind an elastic-like mass that has the consistency and texture of meat when cooked.
When eating out, you may find that Asian restaurants in particular use seitan as a vegetarian substitute for meat not only because of its texture but because it readily absorbs flavors. Therefore, if you want a vegetarian version of hot and spicy buffalo wings, seitan can be prepared to fit the bill. Ditto for meals calling for shrimp, beef, chicken, deli meats, and more.
Seitan is a protein and weight loss powerhouse
One reason seitan is a great weight loss food is that you can get an excellent amount of protein—comparable to animal-based protein—in just three ounces. For example:
- One-third cup (3 oz) of WestSoy ground seitan provides 18 grams of protein for only 100 calories
- Three ounces of WestSoy seitan strips, which are flavored and also contain some garbanzo bean flour, provides 21 grams of protein for 120 calories
- Pacific Organic Seitan Original, also flavored and contains red beans and sprouted lentils, has 15 grams of protein per 3 ounces for 90 calories
As you can see, seitan is a protein and weight loss powerhouse. It’s a low-fat, cholesterol-free, low-calorie protein that can be part of any meal or snack.
Should you buy or make your own seitan?
If you are a first timer, you will probably want to buy seitan that has already been made and then use it in a recipe. Seitan can be found in many traditional grocery stores and in natural markets (e.g., Sprouts, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s). Some of the brands include WestSoy, Pacific, Upton’s Naturals, and Sweet Earth Natural Foods.
Personally, I have made seitan using vital wheat gluten purchased at the grocery store, and it is fun and easy and yes, a little sticky but that’s part of the fun. Basically, you add water and/or broth to the mix, add seasonings, stir, knead into a dough, and then choose your cooking method (simmer, bake, steam), based on how you want to use it.
Some excellent instructions on making your own seitan are here, and if you prefer to watch a video, check out the one below.
How to use seitan
Whether you buy seitan already ground, in strips, or in chunks, or you make your own, you can use it in recipes that call for animal-based meat in that form. For example:
- Use ground seitan as you would ground beef or ground turkey in tacos, pasta sauce, pizza topping, or stews
- Use seitan chunks in shish-ka-bobs, for beef in stroganoff, barbequed, stir fry, curry, or any recipe that calls for beef, pork, or chicken pieces
- Use seitan strips in sandwiches (e.g., veggie Reubens!), as a side dish, grilled, with veggies, and much more
Check out these simple seitan recipes ideas!
Seitan is an often overlooked vegetarian weight loss food you should consider adding to your menu. Once you discover how versatile and delicious it is, it could become a regular part of your diet.
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