Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan
Recipe + Tips & Tricks

First, the back story (or scroll to recipe just below)…

I am not a huge proponent of vegan meat substitutes.  But I do crave them on occasion or need them to make a recipe seem complete, e.g. a pot pie.  And I am completely addicted to Whole Foods Buffalo Soy Bites, so I decided to make my own, though not from soy, as theirs are a bit toothsome.  Making them with my seitan creates a much more tender product.  But the flavor of my basic seitan–which is anything but basic–has been dramatically enhanced by studying their ingredient list.  The two key ingredients gleaned from their label: Liquid Smoke and Molasses.

My tips and tricks for lip-smacking seitan:

Tip 1:  SEASON.  Seitan only tastes as good as it has been seasoned, both the dough AND the stock.  Most of it is dramatically underseasoned to me.  It should be absolutely lip-smacking on its own and not dependent on a sauce or coating.  Do not be fooled into thinking you can merely season the stock, which allegedly permeates the dough as it simmers.  It does.  But not enough.

Tip 2:  INGREDIENTS. My recipe calls for a fair number of ingredients in both the dough and stock–virtually the same ingredients, save the celery, onion, and optional bay leaf in the stock–which may be a deterrent to some.  However, when something is as blank of a slate as vital wheat gluten–the main ingredient–it needs some serious, careful, and judicious balancing of flavors.  But, yes, if you are in a hurry, you may use a generic poultry seasoning in place of all of the dry spices.  It won’t be as scrumptious, but it will be good.

Tip 3:  TASTE.  Granted, seitan, even seasoned, is quite a bizarre texture before it is simmered.  But tasting it, as with anything you prepare, is completely necessary.  So, pinch off a teeny-tiny bit of the dough, rest it on your tongue, make an assessment, discard it rather than swallow it, and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Tip 4:   DON’T OVER-KNEAD.  Never knead the dough more than 3 minutes.  Recipes tend to recommend longer, but that yields an unpleasantly tough product.  Gluten develops as it is kneaded which is why wheat flour-based recipes for baked goods caution against “overbeating” the batter or dough lest  you end up with something too tough to enjoy.

Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan

Yield: 1 pint walnut-sized pieces

Note: if pressed for time, you may substitute 2 tablespoons + 1 1/4 teaspoons poultry seasoning for the all of the dried spices.

Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan Stock

3 cup water

1/4 large onion, separated into rings

3 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

Optional: 1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon all purpose seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon dried, powdered rosemary

1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 large vegetable bouillon cube (for making 2 cups broth)

1/2 teaspoon molasses (or slightly more)

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan Dough (recipe follows)

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine all ingredients, bring to a gentle boil, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Tear off slightly smaller than unshelled walnut pieces of dough and drop into simmering stock, using entire recipe.  Cover with a lid slightly ajar and simmer very gently for 45 minutes; stir occasionally (if you think of it).  Don’t worry about over-crowding.  It will puff up as it cooks, but it won’t stick to neighboring pieces.

Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan Dough

1 3/4 cups vital wheat gluten

1 tablespoon all purpose seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon dried, powdered rosemary

1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 large vegetable bouillon cube (for making 2 cups broth)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to 0taste

1 3/4 cups warm water

1/2 teaspoon molasses (or slightly more)

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

Stock (recipe follows)

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients with a fork–it helps to mix water, molasses, and liquid smoke together first–and knead for just 3 minutes directly in the bowl.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Blooming Buffalo Pasta
only 50 calories for an 8 plus oz serving!

BUFFALO PASTA–only 50 calories for an 8+ oz. serving!

Would you believe me if I told you that this 8+ ounce boel of delicioys Buffalo Pasta contains a total of 50 calories, including the pasta, the sauce, and the celery?!  And it is so filling that I couldn’t even eat it all.

The secret is in the Shirataki pasta, which is only 20 calories for 8 oz, and the delicious Buffalo Sauce made from my low calorie Blooming Platter Mayo at only 8 calories per tablespoon.

Note: while the Liquid Smoke and molasses might seem like odd ingredients, the Buffalo soy nuggets we all love from Whole Foods contains smoke flavoring and molasses powder. Even though traditional buffalo sauce contains neither, they are delicious additions.

Yield: 1 large serving (or 2 entrees with a side salad); easily multiplies

8 oz Shirataki pasta, drained, rinsed, and heated for 1 minute in the microwave for a cold pasta dish or two minutes for a warm pasta dish

1/2 cup finally chopped celery

2 tablespoons Best Blooming Platter Lo-Cal Mayo

1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

1/8 teaspoon molasses

Sea salt to taste

Whisk together the Blooming Platter Mayo, sriracha sauce, vinegar, Liquid Smoke, molasses and sea salt.   Place pasta in a bowl, sprinkle with celery, drizzle with sauce, and garnish as desired.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Pad Thai Fries with Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce
Bonus: Blooming Platter Low-Calorie Mayo

Yield: 1 serving (easily multiplies)

I have a new summer crush…

But it is less of a recipe, except for the sauce and mayo, and more of a method for creating one of the tastiest treats you will ever put in your mouth.

My scrumptious sauce, which is very low calorie, compensates for any excessive calories in the fries.  We used Kroger brand crinkle fries–it has to be crinkle in my book!–to save money and felt that the quality was on point.  No need to pay Ore-Ida prices.

And we fried rather than baked them because we just purchased a Cuisinart Mini-Fryer, exactly like the Waring Pro Fryer we have, only smaller.  Waring Pro makes the same mini-fryer but Waring was purchased by Cuisinart and, while you can still purchase both, the Cuisinart model is the newer one.  Each costs $43.95 with free shipping on Amazon.

So, while we fried–and drained/blotted–our fries to test drive our sleek little fryer, you can bake them according to package directions and still love the results.

Then, you just pile fresh ingredients on top, which we like to set up like a mini-bar:  finely shredded cabbage because we had it, though bean sprouts would be the traditional; sliced green onions; chopped cilantro; and a spritz of lime juice.  Finish with a generous drizzle of my Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce and some roasted and lightly salted peanuts and you are all set.  I like to garnish the dish with lime wedges but I inadvertently left them out in the photo.

I love eating my fries with chopsticks, though I needed a fork right at the end to scoop up every outrageous bite.

1 serving frozen crinkle fries, baked or fried according to package directions, and drained on a paper towel-lined rack set over a rimmed sheet pan (this will keep bottoms crispy)

1/2 cup or more shredded cabbage, cabbage-carrot mix, or bean sprouts

1/4 cup sliced green onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons or (much!) more Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon roasted and lightly salted peanuts

2 lime wedges

Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce

Note: make more than you need for 1 serving

1/2 cup Blooming Platter Mayo (recipe follows; you can use Vegenaise or another prepared brand, BUT keep in mind that it is 100 calories per tablespoon to my mayo’s 8)

1/4 cup Thai Chili Sauce

Optional but delicious: 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce (sold as vegetarian in Asian markets)

Optional but recommended: 1 teaspoon lime juice

Whisk together all ingredients and set aside.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Blooming Platter Low Calorie Mayo

(the BEST and so quick and easy)

Yield: 2 cups.  There are only 250 calories in the entire recipe or 8 calories per tablespoon!

1 pound Silken tofu (I used plain Nasoya brand which also sells a “Lite” and “Organic” variety)

1 tablespoon yellow or stone ground mustard

1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 very large garlic clove, cut into about 3 or 4 pieces

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Sea salt to taste

Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.  Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Southwestern Veggie-Stuffed Peppers
A Low-Cal Dish Packed with Flavor

Yield: 6 stuffed peppers

I’m not sure what I did before the “invention” of riced vegetables, but I know I didn’t eat as creatively when it came to low-calorie meals.  I am rather hooked on the riced cauliflower, riced broccoli, and riced “confetti” (usually cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots), so expect lots of new recipes this summer, in addition to those posted recently.

I think these peppers, with their teaspoon of ground cumin, are perfectly spiced.  But if you prefer to add some coriander, chili powder, and the like, by all means go for it.

Either way, you are sure to return to this easy recipe again and again.

3 large yellow, orange, or red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, and broiled a few minutes, skin-side up, until out skin chars in a few places (I try to slice through the stem with a serrated knife so that each pepper has a cute stem and nice contrast of green)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 large yellow onion, diced

1 large clove garlic, minced (I use a garlic press)

1 pound riced “confetti” cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots (you can rice your own in a food processor, pulsing until vegetables have the fine texture of rice)

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (I use Tofutti)

2 tablespoons vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti)

2 tablespoons prepared salsa (not pico de gallo)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons sour cream

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons grated vegan cheese (I use So Delicious)

Garnishes: 3 cherry tomatoes, halved, and 6 sprigs fresh basil or cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet over medium, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Add onion and saute, stirring, until softened.  Add garlic and saute, stirring, for 30 seconds.  Add riced vegetables and water and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables soften and turn translucent and most all of moisture is evaporated.  Stir in cream cheese, sour cream, and salsa, heating and stirring until cream cheese and sour cream melt.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide evenly among pepper halves in an oiled casserole dish or individual gratin dishes. Top each with 1 teaspoon sour cream and 1 teaspoon grated cheese.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until heated through.  Served garnished with a cherry tomato half and a sprig of basil or cilantro.

Peppers Prior to Popping in the Oven


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Scallion-Basil-Tomato Tarts with Popcorn-Cashew Crust

Yield: four-4 inch main dish tarts

Popcorn: it’s not just for movies anymore!

This delicious crispy crust was inspired by one of my favorite indulgences at the Naro theatre in Norfolk, VA: popcorn with nutritional yeast. The only problem is that I can’t put it on my debit card because it doesn’t meet the minimum charge amount. So, what’s a girl to do, but buy some warm cashews and sprinkle them over the top.  Hence, my crust capitalizes on all of those ingredients…except the debit card.

The filling is a simple tofu, scallion, and fresh basil mixture seasoned with garlic, Liquid Aminos, and just the right amount of lemon juice and zest for a zippy and creamy contrast to the crust.  Halved cherry tomatoes and garnishes of microgreens and a few cashew halves deliver big flavor and texture and an Instagram-worthy photo finish.

Scallion-Basil-Tomato Tarts with Popcorn-Cashew Crust

Popcorn-Cashew Crust (recipe follows)

1 bunch scallions with all but about 2 inches of green removed (approximately 6 scallions), cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup semi-firmly compacted fresh basil leaves

14 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed with paper towels and cut into hunks

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos

Zest and juice of 1 large lemon

6 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise

Garnishes: microgreens and roasted, lightly salted cashew halves, and an optional drizzle of maple syrup

Prepare crust.  Then, in the bowl of a food processor, process scallions and basil until coarsely chopped.  Add tofu, garlic powder, Liquid Aminos, and lemon zest and juice.  Process until smooth with small green flecks.  Divide mixture evenly among baked shells and gently spread to edges.  Top with 4 cherry tomato halves and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Let sit until cool enough to handle and then remove tarts from tart pans (bottoms of pans will still be attached.)  Serve garnished with microgreens and roasted and lightly salted cashew halves.  Though this may sound odd, a scant drizzle of maple syrup over the top is a delectable contrast.

Popcorn-Cashew Crust:

4 cups popcorn (I use Skinny Pop, but any vegan brand will do nicely)

1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted cashew halves and pieces

4  tablespoons coconut oil, vegan butter or, my preference, a combination, melted

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place four 4-inch tart pans with removable bottoms on a rimmed baking sheet, and set aside.  Process popcorn and cashews in food processor until very fine.  Pour in butter and/or oil, nutritional yeast, and salt, and process until mixture comes together.  Divide evenly among the tart pans and press evenly only onto the bottom.  I use a piece of plastic wrap over the surface and press with the bottom of a glass to compact the mixture.   Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the filling.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Coconut-Kale and Peanut Noodles
Only 250 Calories Per Large Serving
5 Ingredient One-Dish Meal

Yield: 2 servings

Calories: app. 250/serving (if you are starved, enjoy the whole recipe for only 500 calories!)

The truth is, I am not passionate about food in the same way as I used to be.  BUT WAIT.  Before you think, “Well I’m certainly not going to waste my time perusing the website of someone who isn’t passionate about food,” please allow me to explain.  (If you want to skip the backstory/lecture and go straight to the recipe, just scroll down a short ways.)

For most all of my life, beginning in childhood, I obsessed about food.  My restless imagination was almost never not ruminating on new recipes or new riffs on old recipes: new ways to do things in the kitchen; better ways.  My mind was like that of a slightly mad scientist, my kitchen a laboratory where I joyfully spent hours on end.  Drive time, shower time–even yoga–it was all permeated by thoughts of food.

But then my husband  died.  And all of that changed.  A lot changed.  Food was just one of the many things on the chopping block, so to speak.  I am no longer in a full-on situational anorexic phase.  But, food quickly became and remained more of a sacrament.  Exquisite tastes to be partaken in small quantities that graces life’s other moments of meaning and transition is how I think of food.  This pasta dish, enjoyed alfresca, anointed the last day of school before exam week and acknowledged my gratitude for the beautiful place where I live happily, if a bit sobered and, certainly, changed in some profound ways.

Regarding practical considerations, my husband didn’t eat the way I do and neither does my new partner of just over a year and a half.  So I really cook for one and most recipes make far more than that, either spoiling or causing me to eat out of guilt for fear of the food spoiling.  And the disquieting truth about diet is that we Americans, especially, don’t need the quantity of food–even good, clean, wholesome food–that we desire.  And that includes vegan food.  Plus, there are ways other than standing in my kitchen that I want to spend more time now, as simple and beautiful as my recently remodeled culinary space is.

Let’s be honest: nothing about a vegan diet is necessarily low-calorie or, for that matter, even healthy.  It is absent any cholesterol for sure. And it’s a whole lot better for the animals and, possibly, the planet, though the manufacturing and packaging of processed foods presents a problem.  But, unless we choose carefully, we can end up eating a shameful American diet full of fat and sugar, albeit absent of any animal products.  It appears that many vegans simply want to eat the vegan equivalent of their pre-vegan diet of fast food and high-calorie indulgences, you know, dishes like mac-and-cheese nachos with a side of tater tots.

For the animals, I am grateful that these folks have made the switch.  For ourselves, we can do better.  And to move us a little further along that path, I offer this simple, satisfying recipe for a nutritious one-dish meal that is as quick as it is low in both fat and calories.

Vegan Thai Coconut-Kale and Peanut Noodles

1/4 cup water

8 cups baby kale (substitute spinach or a combination if you desire)

1/4 cup vegan fish sauce (sold in Asian markets as “vegetarian” fish sauce or make your own)

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky works equally well)

1 8-ounce package tofu Shiratake spaghetti noodles, rinsed and drained (I use House Foods brand with only 20 calories for the entire 8 ounces, but the konnyaku type made from a yam-like tuber has 0 calories)

Garnish: 1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted cashews halves and pieces or peanuts

Optional garnish (which I love but isn’t pictured): Sprigs of Thai basil, mint, and/or cilantro

In a large skillet over medium, heat water to a simmer.  Stir in kale, 2 cups at a time, until each batch begins to wilt.  You can add it all at once, but I like the different textures derived from each handful cooking slightly less time than the one before.  Stir in vegan fish sauce, followed by peanut butter.  When sauce has come together and most of the liquid has evaporated, add noodles, and heat through, stirring to separate the strands.  Serve in bowls with chopsticks topped with cashews and peanuts and the herb of your choice.  Thai basil–so different from Italian basil–is a favorite of mine.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Bang-Bang Tofu





It doesn’t matter how you serve this dish–taco, appetizer, etc.–you will love it. In fact, you might want to just eat spoonfuls of the delectable sauce by itself.

Note:  We own a Waring Pro fryer, which is surprisingly affordable (cheap!), and I highly recommend.  

Bang-Bang Tofu

Bang-Bang Sauce (recipe follows)

Crispy Fried Tofu (recipe follows)

Optional garnishes: cilantro sprigs, lightly salted cashew halves, snipped chives or green onions; or small flour or corn tortillad and shredded cabbage if serving as tacos

To serve, either toss the cubes of fried tofu with some of the sauce and sprinkle with the garnishes of your choice; do the same, but serve in a soft taco shell with some shredded cabbage; or serve as an appetizer with a toothpick in each tofu square,  a little sauce on the side,  and the garnishes of your choice.  Be sure to prepare just before serving so that the sauce does not make the crispy tofu soggy.

Bang-Bang Sauce

2 cups vegan mayonnaise

1 cup Asian sweet chili sauce

1 tablespoon demerrera sugar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion garlic powder

1 teaspoon sriracha sauce or to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate.

Crispy Tofu

1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup unsweetened soymilk curdled with 2 teaspoons rice vinegar + 1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cornstarch

Heat 2 to 3 inches vegetable oil to 375 degrees in deep heavy-bottomed pot.  Place both the curdled soymilk and the cornstarch in separate shallow bowls. Working with 1/4 of the tofu at a time, dip the pieces first in the curdled soymilk and then coat with the cornstarch. Fry for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on oaper towels.  Keep warm in a preheated 170 degree oven (or lowest temperature).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Countdown to Your Best Vegan Thanksgiving
Five Dishes Everyone at Your Table Will Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year to be vegan. Though I am thankful every day that I chose many years ago to live more compassionately, it is during this season that I celebrate my favorite tastes and textures…and share them with you.

The mouthwatering menu I have selected for you features two entrée-like dishes, both meals in themselves because of the balance of ingredients: greens, grains, veggies and more.  So delightfully pretty, filling, and creamy are these dishes that the only side dish I recommend is a fresh bright salad that sounds some special autumnal notes in the form of dried fruits and smoked nuts.  All that remains to round out this bountiful fall feast is my late mother’s Double Cornfingers which I recommend serving in place of stuffing.  For dessert, I offer a recipe I developed for Tofutti a few years back that is a perennial favorite.  These pumpkin cheesecake bars with their streusel topping are super quick and easy but doesn’t look like it, especially when sliced and served on frilly paper doilies.

Each item listed in the menu below is linked to its recipe, and following the menu are captioned photos that will help you envision how your beautiful table will look as everyone gathers around with gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude, I am so grateful for all of you who make my platter bloom throughout the year.  With nurturing wishes to you and yours during this holiday season and always.

~Betsy DiJulio

Blooming Platter Vegan Thanksgiving Menu 2017

Butternut Squash Lasagna (with Smokey Marinara Sauce and Kale Pesto)
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Creamy Rice and Greens Stovetop Casserole
Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Figs and Dates Topped with Smoked Almonds
Sallie’s Double Corn Fingers
3-Layer Oatmeal Pumpkin Streusel Bars
Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna
Vegan Acorn Squash Stuffed with Creamy Rice and Greens Stovetop Casserole
Vegan Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Marinated Figs and Dates Topped with Smoked Almonds
Vegan Double Corn Fingers
Vegan 3-Layer Oatmeal Pumpkin Streusel Bars
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Bloomin’ Best Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower
(in Tacos or “Naked”)

Yield: 2 servings

Late to the Buffalo Cauli party, I had plenty of time to research recipes. Though I love battered and fried as much as the next gal–and even came across a battered and baked method which piqued my interest–and bevause I have no interest in a dehydrator, I decided to simply roast the cauli. Good choice.

So I carefully selected my Buffalo Sauce ingredients from a range of options, balancing my desire for a simple, quick recipe with an even stronger desire for complex, harmonious flavor notes.

The result is a mouth-explosion whose layered flavors belie the low calorie and fat count and throw-together quick prep time.  Add toppings and sauce–and a warmed corn tortilla if you like–and this is one beautiful, textural powerhouse of a meal.

My dear friend and dinner guest, Jill, confessed to not brushing her teeth Friday night before bed to “savor the flavor mix in my mouth.” I don’t necessarily recommend not flossing and brushing, but I do recommend this dish.

2 tablespoons melted vegan butter
3 tablespoons Pete’s Hot Sauce
1 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar (I use demerera)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin or curry powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Freshly ground black pepper

Condiments: shredded red cabbage, sliced celery and radishes, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, and a vegan ranch-type dressing (I use Just brand) sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Optional: 4 warmed corn tortillas

Stir or whisk all ingredients together except cauliflower, condiments, and tortillas.

Place cauliflower on metal baking sheet or roasting pan, spray lightly with cooking spray, lightly salt, and roast 10 minutes. Drizzle with sauce, toss, and roast another 10 to 20 minutes depending on preferred degree of caramelization.

Serve inside warmed corn tortillas–or not–with condiments piled on top and dressing drizzled over.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly, PDF & Email