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Homemade Vegetarian Meat Substitutes

Updated on July 7, 2016

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5 stars from 1 rating of Wheat Gluten Cutlets

Preparing Seitan/Veggie Cutlets

Simmer for at least an hour. The recipe says 30 minutes to an hour, but I've never got them done in less than an hour.
Simmer for at least an hour. The recipe says 30 minutes to an hour, but I've never got them done in less than an hour. | Source
Completed batch. (I know there aren't 12 - I ate one and a half for supper before I remembered to take the picture.)
Completed batch. (I know there aren't 12 - I ate one and a half for supper before I remembered to take the picture.) | Source

The Health Benefits of Wheat Gluten

While Seventh-Day Adventist physician, Dr. Harry Miller, was working in China in the early 20th century, he discovered tofu and seitan, an integral protein source in the meat-poor Chinese countryside. Being a vegetarian, Dr. Miller learned to make these foods and on his return to the U.S., he introduced them at the denomination's medical school at Loma Linda. A veggie-meat industry sprang up at Loma Linda producing canned and frozen gluten and tofu based meat substitutes. A much-needed protein source in the vegetarian diet, gluten products spread across the country and around the world along with the SDA message. It's interesting that to this day, the community around Loma Linda University has the longest average lifespan in the United States. Many of its members continue working and participating actively in their community well into their 90s and beyond.

Seitan is good stuff. You may hear some negativity about wheat gluten out there, but the stuff about it causing "wheat belly" is nonsense. It's a sales gimmick for the gluten-free products industry. Gluten free products are not necessarily bad for you and do not cause distended bellies. Big bellies are caused by over-eating and diets high in sugar and fats. The beer belly, for instance isn't caused by the grain in beer, but by the empty calories cause by sugar in beer and simple, highly refined carbs. Over-refined wheat loses the good things in it like fiber and protein. Really, the more whole wheat vs. white flour that you consume the better.

Celiac disease is a genetic allergy to wheat and wheat products and if you have Celiac disease, you certainly should stay away from wheat gluten. The gluten-free hucksters would have you believe that everyone is allergic to gluten, but it's not true.

For normal people, wheat gluten is a wonderful source of plant protein and when combined with things like corn, legumes, nuts and even cruciferous vegetables like broccoli in your diet, it gives you a complete protein. So grab a bowl of lima beans once in a while and fry up some gluten steaks with a nice barbecue sauce. You can get all the protein you need and you won't even have to murder a chicken or a cow to do it - in case you worry about that sort of thing.

Changing the Flavor

The nice thing about Seitan is that it lends itself to different flavors. Chicken seasonings makes it taste like chicken. Beef seasoning makes it taste like beef. Experiment with various seasonings mixed in with the gluten flour to give your gluten patties a change of pace.

Gluten can be prepared with Chinese food. It can be deep fried with a batter coating. I like to fry them with a dusting of flour and then pour barbecue sauce over them. It really makes for a tasty meal with mashed potatoes and a salad.

Have fun with it. If you use gluten flour, it's faster and fun, but in a pinch you can make it by washing the starch from ordinary flour until the gluten is all that's left. It's a lot of work. The advantage of gluten flour is that you can whip up a vegetarian main course in short order any time and for a fraction of the cost of prepared vege-meats.

Cook Time

Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 25 min
Yields: 12 cutlets

Ingredients for Gluten

  • 2 cups Gluten flour, (You can buy it in bulk)
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 1/4 cups Vegetable Stock (broth), I use chicken seasoning
  • 3 tbs Soy Sauce, Can use tamari or Braggs liquid amino acids
  • 1-3 tsp Olive or sesame oil, (optional - adds fat to recipe)
  • 1-2 tsp Chicken seasoning, Can sub beef seasoning or whatever you like
  • 2 cups Water, For the broth
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce, For the broth
  • 1-2 tbs Your favorite spices, For the broth


  1. Stir the dry ingredients together (garlic powder, ginger and chicken seasoning) to gluten flour in large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix all the liquids together and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix vigorously with a fork. When it forms a stiff dough knead it 10 to 15 times.
  3. Let the dough rest 2 to 5 minutes, then knead it a few more times. Let it rest another 15 minutes before proceeding. Let the dough rest 2 to 5 minutes, then knead again for about 15 seconds. Let it rest another 15 minutes before kneading and shaping.
  4. Shape the gluten into a rough log shape. Use a very sharp knife to cut the gluten into 6 to 8 pieces and stretch into thin cutlets.
  5. Bring 2 cups of water and 1/4 cup soy sauce to a rolling boil Add anything else you might want to infuse into the gluten for flavor - there's room to experiment since gluten/seitan is kind of bland on its own).
  6. Drop the cutlets into the water one at a time until you have them distributed evenly around the pot. You'll need a good sized pot by the way.
  7. Turn the heat down to low and simmer in broth for 30 to 60 minutes. They start out very rubbery, but after simmering for an hour, they become very tender and tasty.
  8. When ready, set the cutlets out on the drain board till cool. You can, at this point, either fry them up or chop them up in Chinese veggies or whatever you want to do with them. I like to freeze them in a nice Ziplock bag. Then I can get one or two out whenever I want some.
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 4 oz. cutlet
Calories 77
Calories from Fat0
% Daily Value *
Fat 0 g
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.


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