Nutritionally speaking, seitan is a king of the meat-substitute domain! And yet you're probably less familiar with it than you are with tofu, Quorn or even tempeh. In both quantity and quality, the protein in seitan is similar to beef - sirloin steak and seitan both weigh up 16g of protein per 100g serving. That's twice as much protein you'll get from the same size serving of tofu, yet somehow has seitan managed to slip under the radar of the everyday eater.
But what exactly is seitan?
Otherwise known as wheat gluten, wheat meat or gluten meat, seitan is exactly that - a foodstuff made from gluten, the main protein in wheat. If you're gluten intolerant and suffer from celiac disease then this isn't the meat substitute for you as seitan is essentially 100% gluten! But if you're faddishly following a gluten-free diet in the hope that it's healthier for you, that's so 2014 and it's time to get down with seitan.
It's made from wheat! It must be full of carbs!
That's not a ridiculous assumption but it's not a correct one either. As seitan is made by removing all of the starch from the wheat (aka the carbs), it leaves only the gluten (aka the protein). Seitan lovers extol it as a nutritional powerhouse - a great source of plant protein (although not a complete protein) containing almost no fat and no cholesterol. One 100g serving of seitan has around 118 calories, 3g carbs and 24g of protein.
This all sounds a little too good to be true.
Okay, admittedly, there are a few downsides. Like everything from red meat to bananas, too much of any one thing becomes a bad thing and this applies to seitan as well. Considering that it is pure gluten, an excess of it may trigger inflammation in the body. But consumed with moderation and there are no other health dangers associated with eating seitan. It's a delicious and chewy plant protein with a texture reminiscent of meat, making it great for veggie burgers, "meat" balls, skewers, taco filling and anything else you may be craving.
Please consult your doctor/nutritionist before starting any new diet.Sumati Menda
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