Veggie Might: Go Vegan—Seitan Carolina BBQ Bites

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

Vegetarians and vegans, it’s that time of year again: the one in which you stand around a spread of food, where spicy wings and barbecue pork abound, and wonder what you can eat.

Oh sure, dips are generally a safe bet—hummus, salsa, guacamole—and someone almost always sets out a platter of cruditĂ©. But sometimes we want to eat barbecue too.

Fear not, good veg. Seitan is here to liven up your Super Bowl and any other party. Not that Satan. This seitan: the wheat gluten meat substitute that’s easy to make and darn tasty.

Seitan is chewy, flavorful, and shockingly close to the real deal. (Too close for some vegheads.) Add some good ol’ Western North Carolina BBQ sauce and you’ve got football food that would make any tailgater proud.

I usually make seitan from a knead-and-boil recipe. This version, adapted, found through FatFreeVegan’s blog, is much less time-consuming and just as delicious. I also whipped up my own BBQ spice blend to give it an extra punch.

Remember the Fake Meat Novelty Warning: whenever serving fake meat, always make enough to go around. I made these seitan bites for a potluck a few years ago and they were a hit with the veg and nonveg alike. The recipe below is easily scalable.

This Super Bowl Sunday, feast in the knowledge that you, too, fair vegetarian/vegan, can have delicious barbecue. Now go forth: hang out with good friends in front of a giant television, surrounded by delicious grub you can eat with your hands.

If you like this, you might enjoy

Seitan Bites
Yields 32 pieces; approx 8 pieces per serving
Adapted from via

1 c vital wheat gluten
1/4 c nutritional yeast flakes
2 tbsp Smokey BBQ spice mix (see below)
1 c vegetable stock
canola oil

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish with oil. (Cooking spray works too.)

2) Combine vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and spice blend in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

3) Add vegetable stock and stir with a fork until combined. Dough will be pretty wet.

4) Knead for 2–3 minutes. Turn out dough into baking dish and spread evenly.

5) Cut dough into 32 pieces like this:
6) Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Coat the top lightly with a bit more oil. Then, carefully, using a spatula, flip the seitan over. Bake for 15 more minutes.

7) Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut again and serve with BBQ dipping sauce.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price per Serving
187.5 calories, 2.19g fat, 2.25g fiber, $0.66

Smokey BBQ Spice Mix
Yields about 2 tbsp

1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
scant 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all spices together and store in an airtight container until use.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price per Serving
Negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.10

Western North Carolina BBQ Sauce (vegetarian)
Yields about 2 cups
Adapted from Yadkin Co. Ladies Extension Cookbook

1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c water
1 onion, minced
2 tbsp maple syrup or molasses
1 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
2–3 dashes liquid smoke
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt

1) Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.

2) Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3) Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Pucker up and serve with fake meat of your choice.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price per Serving:
36.25 calories, .08g fat, .25g fiber, $0.18

Calculations (Seitan Bites)
1 c vital wheat gluten: 480 calories, 2g fat, 1g fiber, $1.27
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes: 210 calories, 2 g fat, 8g fiber, $1.00
2 tbsp Smokey BBQ spice mix: negligible calories, fat, and fiber per serving, $.10
1 c vegetable stock: 20 calories, .1g fat, 0g fiber, $.19
canola oil: 40 calories, 4.67 fat, 0g fiber, $.08
TOTALS: 750 calories, 8.77g fat, 9g fiber, $2.64
PER SERVING (TOTALS/4): 187.5 calories, 2.19g fat, 2.25g fiber, $.66

Calculations (WNC BBQ Sauce)
1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar: 50 calories, 0g fat, and 0g fiber, $.16
1/2 c ketchup: 116 calories, .5g fat, .5g fiber, $.37
1 onion: 20 calories, .1g fat, 1.5g fiber, $.25
2 tbsp maple syrup: 104 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, $.50
1 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.06
2–3 dashes liquid smoke: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.04
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.02
1 tsp salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.02
TOTALS: 290 calories, .6g fat, 2g fiber, $1.32
PER SERVING (TOTALS/8): 36.25 calories, .08g fat, .25g fiber, $.18