Laurel recently requested an episode on seitan: What the heck is it, how does it stack up nutritionally, and how do you eat it?

Seitan is not a new thing. The word (pronounced say-tan) is Japanese and was coined just 50 years ago by one of the proponents of the macrobiotic diet. But the food it refers to has been a staple in Asian cultures for at least 15 centuries. I remember seeing it (but not buying it) at the Food Coop I belonged to as an undergraduate at Boston University. Although that was not quite 15 centuries ago, it was still long before the days of Whole Foods stores and yoga studios on every corner. Back then, food coops (and health food, in general) occupied a sort of a fringe culture left over from the Age of Aquarius.

Today, of course, minimally-processed foods and plant-based diets are relatively mainstream pursuits, so a whole new generation of hipsters and Lulu-lemon-wearing moms are getting acquainted with things like kombucha and seitan.  I talked about kombucha just last week in my Nutrition Tips for Fall. This week, I have a quick primer on seitan for you.

 

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