Happy Herbivore Blog

Beer-Simmered Seitan Carnitas (Vegan Carnitas Recipe)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

Confession: I didn't eat tofu for the first two years I was vegan. This is funny to me now, as I love the stuff (I could easily eat it at three meals a day, that is, if I wasn't so focused on eating a balanced diet!) and because I was a former tofuphobe, I've created three tutorial videos about tofu for my comrades. 

But this post isn't about tofu...it's about seitan...(seiten? I always struggle with spelling!) which took me exactly three years to try. Well, I suppose that's not completely true.

Shortly after I went vegan, I tried a "beefy seitan" recipe that was floating around the blogsphere. After traveling to no less than 3 stores to get ingredients (perhaps now it makes sense why I'm so obsessed with "every day" ingredients!) and cooking this "beefy" monster for some 10-hours...I hated it. 

Some blog friends convinced me I just needed to try another recipe, so I tried the recipe in one if Isa's books--I forget which, and it didn't come out right (my fault I'm sure, not blaming Isa's recipe) so that was it. No praising seitan for me!

Then I met seitan again, (I ordered unsuspecting) and fell head over heals:

(This is "No Name" at grasshopper---there is nothing "healthy" about it. The seitan is deep fried and then coated in a sweet sauce--but it's DELICIOUS!)

After a few happy bellies (and a move across the country--away from the above seitan dish) I tried to make my own again. It was a DISASTER -- as in splattered all over me and most of my kitchen. I'm still scratching my head on that one. 

Always the optimist, I tried a few more times, with varying recipes, until I ultimately concluded: seitan was not for me. To make anyway...

but then.... I starting writing my cookbook... and I kept thinking, wouldn't it be GREAT if I could include a seitan recipe!? I mean vegans LOVE their seitan! I shared my previous woes with my testers and many of them admitted to having the same problem -- they couldn't rock the at-home seitan either! I smelled a challenge...

A few experiments later, I mastered a chicken-style seitan...and even pot roast! Which leads me (finally!) to today's recipe.

I've mentioned once before how peculiar ideas sometimes come to me and if executed, I know they would either be fabulously awesome or disastrously gross. 

My most recent "wild" idea was to cook seitan in beer. I had wanted to cook it in a nice, dark beer -- maybe Negro Modelo, but one thing this island is sorely lacking is good beer--or even a variety of beer. Everything is of the Amstel Light and Heineken persuasion... 

I used Presidente, which comes from the Dominican Republic (I try to support my neighboring islands) -- and I'm glad I did. I think a light beer is key here--and as I was tweeting my experiment, @snarkyvegan echoed, saying it's been her experience that cooking (generally) with darker beers makes things bitter.

I started with this seitan recipe for "ribs" because I like the meaty texture you get from baking seitan, though I substituted in some chickpea flour because I thought it would give me more of a shaved meat/carnita texture. I also adapted my recipe for "mock beef broth" in my cookbook for the "wet mix" (and because I was dying to experiment with vegemite) but my regular broth recipe will do you right, too.

and then I cooked it in beer.

The result? FREAKIN' AMAZING. Not only is the flavor divine -- it really has a shaved meat... a burrito/fajita "chicken" texture... it ROCKS. I literally thought I was biting into something from Taco Bell---it was crazy!

Here are some pictures of the seitan process:

Freshly sliced after boiling in beer.

 A closer look.

Shredding/cutting pieces off.

Out of the oven -- a little crisper.

Assembling... (lettuce, tomato, whole wheat tortilla, plus I spooned some of the "cooking juices" over top)

Eat me!

Recipe:Seitan Carnitas


This slow cooked seitan has the perfect texture for carnitas or fajitas. It's juicy and tender but slightly toothsome.



Whisk vital wheat gluten, chickpea flour, 3 tbsp nutritional yeast, 2 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp garlic powder together in a bowl and set aside. Combine warm water (hot from the tap) with soy sauce, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp vegemite (or marmite or vegan Worcestershire sauce), 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp onion powder together. Pour liquid into flour mixture and stir to form a dough. If it's too dry, add another tbsp or two of warm water but becareful not to make it too wet or soggy. You want it to be firm, but pliable and moist. Knead 5-10 times then place into a large pot.

Pour beer over top (I left mine out for a few minutes, but it was still rather cool), cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add 1/2 tsp more vegemite, reduce to low and simmer until most of the liquid has absorbed, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. About 1/4 cup cooking liquid should line the bottom of the pot.

Use a butter knife (not a sharp knife) to shred thin slices off of the seitan. If the seitan is too wet or juicy for you, place slices on a cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes on each side. Be careful not to over bake the seitan -- you want it slightly firmer but not dried out and hard. (see blog post for photo tutorial).

For "carnitas" slap seitan into whole wheat tortillas with lettuce and tomatoes, and spoon residual cooking liquid over the filling.

Best of 2010

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Holiday

Top 10 of 2010! Well, doesn't this post title have a nice ring to it?

I can hardly believe 2010 is almost over! 2010 has been a crazy year for me (and Happy Herbivore)...but mostly filled with wonderful events, opportunities and new friends!

At the start of the year, I was just finishing up the recipes in my cookbook (which will finally be hitting the shelves in less than a month!) It doesn't really feel like it was that long ago... (or maybe it does!) 

I promise your patience will pay off handsomely! 

Anyway, for the last Top 10 Tuesday of 2010, here are my 10 most memorable posts this year -- thanks for spending another year with me!

-The Kitten in the Laundry Bag 

-A personal note 

-Executive Chef Happy Herbivore? 

-My Vegan Diet

-The story of my life...in my cookbook?

- HH turns 4! and a short history

- smoothies (I can't believe how these smoothies took twitter by storm!)

- vegan dogs (and homemade vegan dog food)

- memorable HH recipes 

- The inspirational interview series: Beth, the Brunks, Philip, Bethany, Carol, Laura, Chef AJ, Kate (part 1, part 2), Matt (part 1, part 2), Natala, Courtney, Candice & Megan.

(Take a trip back to the best of 2009)

I can only hope for a repeat for 2011 -- but I already know it's going to be awesome... not just because my cookbook will be making it's big debut but because of the Happy Herbivore Cruise

Vegans for Health are still Vegans.

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

A few weeks ago when I posted about my vegan diet, many of you left comments here and via twitter saying my story echoed your own journey -- that you too went vegan for health or vanity, but the reasons you continue to be vegan are varied (animal rights, humanity, environmental welfare, to name a few). It was refreshing to hear I wasn't alone... and perhaps because I took a selfish road to my own veganism, I've never cared what path anyone else took to get there.

And because the vegan community is so small, it saddens me any time I see lines drawn in the sand -- vegans claiming others are not "vegan enough" or attacking them for their choices. I, myself, have been the victim of countless attacks, especially on twitter. (Let me take this moment to say thank you to all of you who stood by me and offered support during these episodes).

I will never understand their motivations. I'm already vegan, can't they funnel that energy into something more productive? But that's not the point of this post.

Just as the vegan community was starting to heal from the ex-vegan manifestos (claiming vegan diets made them sick) a number of vegans took to twitter and their blogs to berate anyone who is a "vegan for health" and go so far as to suggest you're doing a disservice to veganism if you "convert" people based on health claims rather than animal rights.

It takes a lot to twist my panties, but my panties were twisting in fury! 

In the four years I've been vegan (happy veganniversay to me--it was a few days ago!) I had zero 'converts' when I preached animal rights. In those early months I was a vegangelical -- totally obnoxious about my veganism and animal rights, but after no one converted, and many friendships became strained, I backed off. I decided veganism would just be something I could keep in my pocket and feel good about -- my own warm fuzzy, the rest be damned... and then, something interesting happened.

By being compassionately quiet, by simply leading by example, my friends and family started becoming more interested and asked questions about veganism. Knowing that (unfortunately) most people are not moved by animal rights, I talked about the health benefits, and like magic, one by one, the majority of my friends and family members went vegan, vegetarian or adopted a semi-vegetarian diet. 

We need to look no further than my recent interview of the Brunks (or my sister, Courtney) to see how much omnivores appreciate vegan friends who don't judge them, but also how being an example, can bring about a great change in others. 

Going back to my original point: Any road that leads to someone eating less meat is a good one in my book. Whatever someones motivations are to eat vegan or more vegan meals, we ALL still benefit.Every meatless meal matters.

The big "problem" these veg*ns have with "vegans for health" or vegans using "health benefits" to draw people toward veganism is this notion that if the "convert" doesn't lose weight, they don't get healthier, etc. they will drop their veganism like hot cakes. 

Let me be the shining example that is not true. While my veganism has helped me lose weight, feel better and generally live better -- it wasn't a total solution to all my mortal woes. I still have persistant acne, severe menstrual cramps and migraines -- I had hoped veganism would take care of these "issues" for me, and it didn't, but yet here I remain...because although my veganism started from a selfish perspective, it morphed into something greater, which I think is true for a lot of people. 

Many of us come to veganism for one reason, but then find ourselves caring about the other reasons once we get here. Scott, for example, was a vegetarian for environmental reasons -- but as a vegan, he champions the health benefits--which isn't something that he cared about initially. Of course, we are also both moved by the plight of farm animals.

and for the record, "converting" people based on compassion and animal rights, as these veg*ns suggest, is no more a guarantee someone will stick with veganism. In fact, the ex-vegans who created such a stir, were all vegans strictly for animal rights--- they were abolitionists vegans. One of them even attacked me, just months ago, for not being vegan enough.

So I hope with this rather long post, I've made a point: that we should remember that we are all on the same side of the fence and the greatest lesson veganism can teach anyone is compassion...compassion for everyone.

This is my promise to you: happyherbivore.com (and the Facebook page) will always be a safe space, where anyone can feel welcomed and not judged.