Tag Archives: made from scratch

Make it from Scratch: vegan seitan nuggets

One of our biggest strides this year has been in the “buying less processed food” department. This is an exciting development. If we learned anything when we were eating for $5 a day, it was that making things from scratch beats any coupon hands down. Look at our homemade soy milk. The numbers are in: we spend about 53¢ on a half gallon of plain organic soy milk compared to the $2.69 store bought containers. A little quick math:

($2.69 – $0.53) x 2.5 (average half gallon containers per week) X 52 (weeks in a year) = $280.80 annual savings

Just like that, we trimmed $280 from our annual grocery budget by making one grocery staple at home. The more things we start making ourselves, the more we save. Another big budget saver for us lately has been cooking big batches of beans in the pressure cooker every week instead of buying cans. Organic canned beans aren’t cheap. I haven’t done the math, but there are significant savings there. This is the financial benefits alone. We are also creating less garbage and eliminating weird chemical ingredients from our food and its packaging.

The next step is to keep trying new recipes for food made from scratch. We need to find recipes we like that are easy enough to work into our busy schedule. Yes, our time is valuable, but we’re not superheroes for spending an extra 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there in the kitchen. Or even an hour or two when you are multi-tasking a few recipes at a time and making double batches of them all to stock up the fridge and freezer.

A big budget item for vegetarians can be meat analogues. All those veggie burgers, nuggets, and sandwich slices are spendy. For our budget and our health, we try not to buy that stuff too often. It is processed food, and it is easy to fall into the trap of buying and eating it a lot when things get hectic.

When I came across Joanna Vaught’s seitan nugget recipe, I was intrigued. I’ve made my fair share of homemade seitan, veggie sausage and burgers before. Never nuggets! I loved the way she compared the nutritional values of different nuggets. Hers win! So I decided to test them out.

They were a huge hit with the whole family. We loved them. In all honesty, of course we prefer the texture and the junk-foodiness of some of the store bought veggie nuggets. We don’t allow ourselves to buy them very often, though, so homemade nuggets will be a welcome addition to our dinner schedule. The recipe really was faster than some of my other homemade seitan making experiments. I made two batches pretty quickly, and plan to make more soon to put in the freezer.

Next up: I’m going to test out a couple of Vegan Dad’s lunch meat recipes(Veggie lunch meat and Hickory Smoked Veggie Turkey). Wish me luck.

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homemade soy milk

After spending years being reluctant to own yet another single-use kitchen appliance, we finally decided to take the leap and buy a soy milk maker. We chose this machine for its ability to make raw milks, excellent reviews, and a $10 off deal. We even decided to overlook the atrocious use of comic sans on the machine’s label. I think the final push was our consumption of homemade iced soy lattes over the summer coupled with a certain teenager’s consumption of bowls of cereal drowned in soy milk (bowls plural, as in more than one per day).

Once we had our new machine, we just needed to buy bulk organic soybeans from the co-op. They look so nice in this vintage mason jar, I may have taken too many photos.

Then we had to remember to soak 3/4 cup of beans overnight for 8-10 hours. We have mostly stopped buying canned beans, so we’re really good at this step. By morning, the soybeans are more than double their size!

Then you just fill the pitcher to a line, add the soaked beans, put the top back on, plug it in and push a button. It does its thing for less than 30 minutes and beeps at you when it is complete.

This is the okara, or soy pulp, you strain off when it is done. I thought this step would be harder or messier. You really just have to stir the okara around a bit to let all the liquid drain off. The cool thing is that you can use okara to make veggie burgers or other things, so more bang for your buck. Prepare to hear the results of some okara recipe testing in the near future.

Once it is strained, voila!

Well, okay, maybe not voila. We usually buy plain soy milk instead of vanilla. One of my pet peeves is making something savory and being stuck with nothing but vanilla soy milk in the fridge. Still, even the plain stuff is sweetened and flavored. So far we’ve made 4 batches and just added about a teaspoon of sugar per cup (or less), a couple pinches of salt, and sometimes vanilla. We have deemed this more than adequate. The only thing it isn’t good enough for yet is those iced soy lattes. The flavor isn’t quite as good as store-bought. However, we are really encouraged that we have the recipe so close when we’ve been making it less than a week.

Our next experiment will be to try the recipe in this video from Everyday Dish. I have high hopes about the secret ingredient: barley malt powder.

More to come on this topic! Like a cost breakdown, and perhaps a perfected recipe in the near future.

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Filed under food