lunes, 5 de mayo de 2014

What is Gluten (for)? Seitan, the veggie meat

Quite recently I saw a cooking show where the chef mentioned an interesting ingredient while making bread: GLUTEN

Gluten free aisle in the supermarkets has become a trend nowadays for unfortunate reasons. One of it being the cause of coeliac disease and gluten intolerance becoming "popular"

It is quite alarming how more and more people claim to have some kind of intolerance to gluten...  I won´t go into details about the reasons why this is happening but let´s just say that it is a combination of genetically predisposed people who suffer from autoimmune reaction to gluten and other conditions that triggers the symptoms, such as early childhood exposure to wheat or even psychological stress.

So , what is gluten? 

It is a protein present in cereals such is wheat, barley, rye and spelt and to certain extent oats (because they tend to be processed in a non gluten free environment). 
This protein has especial properties for the food industry and when it was discovered the technologists started to experiment with it because it is a very versatile protein. It is elastic and very malleable so can be mixed with other ingredients to create new products.
That is why, now a days gluten is so commonly present in foods. We eat gluten in the majority of processed cereals , pastas, cakes, pastries, soups, prepared sauces and breads.

What is seitan?

The best example of what is a gluten derivate food, tend to be  very popular among vegetarians:


Have you heard of vegetarian meat? So this is it, really. The food industry  extracts gluten from wheat and sells it in a similar way to tofu. It does not look very appealing to be honest, but if cooked and seasoned in the right way it does the trick.

The texture is meaty and tender and the color reminds you to roast chicken. 

 Traditional recipes from Vietnam and China make their own seitan at home, in a similar fashion to tofu.
So, if you are vegetarian eat seitan, as it is an excellent source of protein (As much as beef meat) and vitamin B complex, but if you are vegetarian and have gluten intolerance don´t even try it!!

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