As the plant-based movement grows, we’ve seen some wicked awesome businesses popping up. Bartleby’s is pretty new to the game (we launched on the streets of Boston in April of 2018), but we’ve already found peers who have similar missions (to do good for our bodies, the animals, and the planet; to make tasty vegan food more widely accessible). Today, we’d like to highlight three amazing providers that approach the vegan life boldly and bravely. They inspire us at Bartleby’s to keep pushing.
THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO WORSHIP SEITAN
Seitan is a great source of protein and can be a delicious part of any meal. It can easily take on different flavors and textures depending on how you prepare it. In our previous post in this series, we covered making seitan at home (it’s actually pretty easy!) and buying it pre-packaged from the store. Once you have prepared seitan in your fridge, you can turn to these fun and fresh ideas on how to sprinkle in that gluten-magic into your favorite meals.
THE WORD, THE PLANT, THE PRODUCT
Seitan originates from Japan and has been eaten for nearly 1,500 years. The word, which likely comes from the Japanese terms for vegetable and protein is pronounced “say-tan,” or sometimes as “see-tan.” Often people say “satan” by accident. That’s okay, because we love devils (have you seen our mascot?) and technically you don’t need to say seitan in order to eat and enjoy it.
Seitan is made from wheat, a plant which might first conjure up images of bread or wheatgrass shots. Seitan is special because it’s made from the natural protein found in wheat (giving it the nickname “wheat meat” or "grain meat"). This protein is known as vital wheat gluten, or just gluten for short. People who are diagnosed with Celiac disease have an autoimmune disorder that prevents them from ingesting gluten without sustaining damage to the digestive system (and this means they are unable to eat seitan). For everyone else, seitan is a good source of protein, iron, calcium, potassium, and several B vitamins, while also being low in fats and low in carbohydrates.
The process of getting the natural protein from wheat is straightforward, if a bit tedious. It’s simple enough that you can extract the pure gluten from standard all-purpose flour at home with no special equipment. Here’s a ten-minute video of a guy washing away the starch granules from regular flour to yield just the protein using just a bowl, a colander, water, and his kitchen sink.
If you’re pressed for time, don’t worry. You can just buy vital wheat gluten to make your own seitan. Bob’s Red Mill makes a wonderful Vital Wheat Gluten and your local grocery might stock it. I’ve seen the Bob’s products at most health food stores, and at the major chain groceries like Whole Foods, Wegmans, Stop & Shop, Star Market, etc.
You also have the option to buy pre-made seitan at the grocery store. It’s found in many faux meat products and is often the primary ingredient (e.g. Impossible Foods, Upton Naturals, and Field Roast use seitan as the base for many of their products). Sometimes the packaging on commercially available meat-alternatives is confusing because the product is labeled with a traditional meat name, like “sausage.” You know it’s not a sausage, but you don’t know what it is exactly, and that confusion can distract you from enjoying the food.
But now you know: seitan is the hero! Bartleby’s favorite source of natural protein, made from the friendly wheat plant, can be prepared in a variety of delicious ways with different textures and flavors. We’re keen on a savory, southern-fried version that our devils enjoy in our signature sandwiches and nuggets, but seitan works with so many dishes and cuisines. Yum!
Keep following our series and learn how to prepare seitan and make it a part of your favorite meals.
I love taking my parents out to eat whenever they come up from Florida to see me. During their last visit at beginning of July, we took an entirely vegan food tour. For this sweet couple, who only recently learned how to pronounce “vegan” correctly, it was quite the experience. They had questions for each of the restaurants and shops we visited. “Wait, there’s no butter? What about eggs? What about…” They just couldn’t believe that all the food we tried was made without any animals being involved!
Their last day in town was also a special service day for Bartleby’s. I had been hired to cater a birthday party, and decided to put my parents to work. They pulled on official Bartleby’s hats and shirts, joined me for grocery shopping, did prep work at the Food Revolution commissary, and helped me serve partygoers on site. My dad gravitated toward the fryer, and my mom assembled the sandwiches. All in all, the Kirkpatricks make a good team! I was really happy my parents could be a part of my food truck experience, and I’m grateful for such a supportive family.
Thanks to all these amazing establishments! You can see some of delicious things we ate in our “Food tour!” Instagram Story.