Bird and Belle's Adventures in Marriage


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Meat Jello

Beans beans they’re good for the heart,
The more you eat the more you fart,
The more you fart the better you feel,
So eat your beans AT EVERY MEAL!

I remember singing this with my Dad and feeling like SUCH a rebel. Why? Because FART was one of the naughtiest words I knew but if Daddy was singing them with me it was both ok and hilarious.

Nearly 30 years later I still hum this little ditty while cooking beans and it always makes me smile. The difference between then and now, aside from the expansion of my naughty word vocabulary, is that I like beans. Actually, I love beans.

I could fill this entire post about the wonderful world of legumes, their nutritional benefits and the varying flavors between varieties, but I’m pretty sure our small readership would plummet.

Over the years I have become proficient at taking a bag of dry beans and turning it into a dish that even the most diehard carnivore would enjoy. It seemed logical when we started cooking chicken to apply many of the same beany principles.

For example, the broth left after cooking garbanzo beans (or chickpeas if you prefer) is a culinary delicacy. I use this garbanzo bean broth in soups and sauces and even blend it in my hummus as a way to reduce the fat without sacrificing flavor.

When Bird went to whip up a giant Crockpot of chicken stock I figured the end liquid would be similar to that of garbanzo bean broth.

Note: Bird has pointed out that while this is a syllogism, it is not “true.” It is, however, how my thought process went, which is often quite incorrect, therefore it is “true enough” to go on our Adventures of Marriage blog.

Last weekend Bird plopped the chicken carcass in the Crockpot with water, veggie scraps and fresh herbs from the garden and let it do its thing for the day.

The broth hung out in the fridge for several days until we had time to make our first chicken soup. While Bird prepared the butternut squash and onions, I pulled out the big container of broth.

“Um, let me do that…” Bird said.

“I can do it. It’s just broth and cooked chicken. I think I can handle it.”

And then I opened the lid and holy crap, what the hell was this gelatinous muck?

“Something is wrong!” I yelped. “Look at all this disgusting fat! Wait, this is not fat. What on earth is it?”

“RELAX,” Bird said. “It’s just gelatin from the bones. It will liquefy again when we heat it up.”

Cue dry heaves.

“I don’t believe you. Broth does not look like this when cold. BEAN BROTH DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THIS WHEN COLD!”

I grabbed a lone can of chicken broth and I shoved it in his ear and shook.

“See! Liquid! Something is totally wrong. This meat Jello cannot be good for us.”

Bird told me to relax and retreat while he dealt with the  muck broth.

Google search: WHY DOES MY CHICKEN BROTH LOOK LIKE BROWN JELLO

What popped up shocked me. Post after post of people lamenting at how hard it is to get their chicken broth to gel,while others boasted of the perfect recipe to achieve gelatinous broth.

Why on earth would people want this?

Google search: WHY SHOULD YOU EAT GELATINOUS CHICKEN BROTH?

I was shocked at what I learned. Basically bone broth is full of really good stuff including:

  • Cartilage which includes glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin sulfate, keratin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. Cartilage may be useful in the treatment of ailments like arthritis, degenerative joint disease, inflammatory bowel disease and lowered immune function.
  • Red bone marrow which is an important source of nutritional and immune support factors. It contains myeloid and lymphoid stem cells.
  • Glycine and proline which are important amino acids important in the manufacturing of glucose, enhancing gastric acid secretion, supporting soft and connective tissue and the production of plasma.
  • Collagen which aides in soft tissue and wound healing, formation and repair of cartilage and bone, healing and coating the mucus membranes of the gastrointestinal tract and facilitating the digestion and assimilation of proteins.
  • A whole bunch of minerals*

This is a lot of stuff that seems important for people with connective tissue disease, digestive problems and joint problems – all things that I deal with. This is also a lot of stuff that I currently take in supplement form and pay a lot of money for.

I think the most amazing thing is that all this goodness comes from the part of the chicken that most modern American families throw away. It took one Crockpot, the carcass of our Good Life Ranch chicken, some veggie scraps and a day of unattended simmering to create this nutritional powerhouse. This is the frugal gal and health nut’s dream all simmered into one pot of gross looking meat Jello.

I rushed back to the chicken to inform Bird of all my new-found knowledge.

“Did you know BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH?” I trumpeted.

“Yeah… chicken broth is really good for you. This is why we are eating it,” Bird said while rolling his eyes.

“Correction – meat Jello. Seriously, you could spread this on toast. I bet that would be super nutritious!” I said.

“That’s disgusting. Don’t do that to toast. The soup’s ready now. Let’s eat.”

I’m pleased to report that I have had three bowls of this soup since we made it on Monday. While it’s not my favorite thing (I’d take lentil soup over chicken soup any day) I very much appreciate the nutritional value and the fact that we have used every scrap of this little chicken up. Tell me, do you make stock with the bones from your meats? If so, do you have any tips or tricks to share with us? 

* All nuritional information in this post came from The Jade Institute.

*************************

Bird and Belle’s Gluten-Free Chicken Soup

This is a rough guide to our soup since I did not take any notes while cooking. I sort of feel you can’t mess up soup, even when you use meat Jello as the base!

First: Make your stock following this Crockpot stock recipe. Note: the vinegar is key in this and really helps with drawing the nutrients from the bones.

Second: Chop your veggies. We used the following:

1/2 a large butternut squash peeled, seeded and chopped

1 chopped sweet onion

several cloves of the freshest garlic you can find (Farmers’ Market garlic is the absolute best)

some chopped celery and chopped baby carrots

A couple of cups of garbanzo beans because beans are both musical and good for your heart 😉 AND bump up the protein and healthy carbohydrates in your soup

Season to your liking

Simmer until the veggies are tender

Enjoy and know you are doing something good for both your body and the environment.

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Smoothie Challenge

Growing up in Florida had tons of advantages. We had a seemingly endless summer. We had a beach. We lived in a cute little house in a neighborhood packed with kids. We had fun, creative parents. It was a good life. The one thing that was lacking, though, were visits with our extended family. Our cousins, aunts and uncles all lived a 24-hour drive north which meant that visits were few and far between.

It was not until I moved to Kentucky that we were  finally close enough to visit my extended family on a regular basis. I am constantly surprised to see the similarities between myself and these folks with whom I share genes. Not only do we favor one another, we also have a lot of common ground: particularly, my beautiful, earth-loving cousin F. As a little girl I admired F. She was pretty, care-free, hip and everything I hoped to one day become.

I remember riding with her to a thrift store, wind whipping through the windows as her car flew over the hilly northern countryside while we listened to tapes of REM. I remember writing her letters on cat stationary and receiving letters back that were written with elaborate curly lettering in bright magic marker. I also remember annoying her with my constant desire to “be friends.”

Many years later we have reunited and found that we actually have a lot in common including one huge obsession with nutrition and health. During our visit last year F. sang the praises of green smoothies. I went home excited about adding this new power food to my diet. I plopped my blender on the counter one afternoon and began to stuff it with tangerines.

“Whatcha making?” Bird asked.

“A green smoothie,” I responded as I shoved and entire head of Romaine lettuce into the blender. “I’m making enough for us both!”

“That is disgusting,” he said.

Slimer

I argued that it would be delicious and full of nutrients and then flipped the switch and watched as the oranges and lettuce were brutally whipped into one oozy green liquid like what I would expect to come from Slimer during a sneeze. Bird winced. I removed the lid, sniffed and then tried to hide my horror. It smelled disgusting. Determined, I poured two big glasses and handed one over to Bird. One sip and we knew this was a kitchen fail. It was disgusting.

I tried making a few other green smoothies and had similar results each time – they all tasted like dirt or grass. How delicious greens could yield something that tasted so much like what I believe licking a lawn mower would taste was beyond me. It seemed this health craze was not for me so I put the lettuce back where it belonged – in the salad bowl.

Last weekend Bird and I again headed north to the family farm for a reunion. On a quest for lunch variety, I asked that F. give me some pointers on green smoothie making. In particular, what can I do to make them not taste like dirt. Always eager to share her health knowledge, F. enthusiastically agreed and on Saturday we gathered around her kitchen to meet what goes down as the most amazing kitchen gadget known to man – the Vitamix.

While the men-folk cooked up some caribou and onions, the women folk started pulling out all sorts of things to blend. F prepared three blended treats for me: one delicious fruit “sorbet” and two green smoothies. She went easy on my palate with the smoothies and explained you have to work up to all greens. A little fruit here and there is good to help cut the bitterness (or lawn-mower mouth). Both of the smoothies were actually quite palatable and after three years of eating humus sandwiches for lunch my taste buds rejoiced. “Change is GOOD! Have these for lunch!” my mouth cheered.

This morning I started what is going to be a two-week green smoothie challenge during which I will make a different smoothie each day. I considered buying a recipe book with green smoothies but decided to save the $$ and instead rely on my own creativity and the Internet. I think I’ll share some of my creations here, as surely you are all just DYING to know what that green thing is that is stuck in my teeth *wink*  I will also rate the smoothies on a 1-to-5 scale, with 1 being so bad I can’t choke it down, and 5 being so good I wished I had more.

Smoothie No. 1:

1 handful organic baby spinach
4 large swiss chard leaves
1 sliver ginger
1 stalk celery
5 cubes frozen pineapple

VERDICT: I made this in the a.m. and then stored it in the office fridge until 4 p.m. today. The first right-out-of-the-fridge sip was NOT GOOD! All I tasted was celery and none of the ginger or pineapple. The smoothie then sat unloved on my desk for 20 minutes while I answered some e-mails. When I returned to it I noticed it had liquified a bit more and warmed slightly. I gave it a quick stir and then tasted again and much to my surprise it tasted better. It seems that by letting it warm slightly the ginger and pineapple flavors had a chance to really come out. I still think I would have left the celery out of this one.

RATING: 3
This smoothie was not bad. Given time to warm slightly, I think I could drink it on a regular basis, although definitely not every day.


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Project 333

Lately I’m becoming increasingly aware of the material things that surround us. It shames me to think of our daily abundance when others scrape by to meet basic needs.  It shames me to think that the money used to purchase things that ultimately do not enrich our character could have been used to fund a meaningful trip to see family and friends. It shames me to think of the resources and energy that went into creating all these things that sit largely untouched in our home.

Do all these things make me feel better? Do they make me feel stronger and more empowered? Do they improve my health? Do they make me whole? No matter how I spin it, the answer is always “no.”

But how on earth do you change 30 years of habit? How do you begin to sift though the piles of things and pare down. The thought of radically changing our lifestyle overnight is overwhelming and the possibility that it might not work is near crippling.

Instead I am taking baby steps towards this ultimate goal: I want my world to be filled with purpose, pride and efficiency.

My initial closet purge was the first step. This week I’m taking the next step by carting that box of acquaintances to the consignment shop (I have not missed them in the least) and starting Project 333.  I first read about this challenge in January and it has haunted me since. Such a noble experiment! But I could never do it… or could I? After reading 333 success stories I have decided to try.

I carefully selected 33 pieces of clothing to wear for the next 3 months. Choosing just 33 pieces was HARD and I’m still tweaking the list. Doing this in the summer is particularly challenging because my summer wardrobe has never been one that mixes and matches well. I hope that come fall I’ll be better organized and able to gather 33 pieces that can be rotated around and layered in unique ways.

Project 333 rules include accessories in the count. While ready to take next big leap towards minimal living, I’m really not ready to commit to a small handful of accessories. I am, however, going to do a Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers with my accessories to weed out things that are rarely and never worn. I know someone else would enjoy them far more than I. Maybe by fall I’ll be ready to embrace the full rules. Time will tell!

Belle’s Project 333 – Summer:

  1. black cotton dress
  2. orange sun dress
  3. tan sun dress
  4. black maxi dress
  5. black and white maxi dress
  6. multi colored maxi
  7. Anthropology dress
  8. red and white striped top
  9. pink floral button-up top
  10. white crepe top
  11. cream lace top
  12. slate blue T
  13. green floral button up
  14. white T
  15. black tank
  16. white tank
  17. olive-green tank
  18. dark blue jeans
  19. denim shorts
  20. khaki pants
  21. khaki skirt
  22. seersucker crops
  23. red skirt
  24. long teal skirt
  25. white jacket
  26. aqua sweater
  27. cream sweater
  28. pink sweater
  29. denim jacket
  30. black flat sandals
  31. white wedge sandals
  32. cream heels
  33. red flats


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Slow

Arboretum, Lexington, KY, 2010

My year of soul-searching has brought me to an interesting place this spring. As I struggle to overcome illness I find myself faced with the need to rest more and do less. For some this is easy and natural. For me it is a challenge and struggle. My weekends are typically a whirl-wind of classes, cleaning, projects and socializing. By the time Monday morning rolls around I’m worn out and in need of a weekend – but my weekend is gone. This illness has forced me to stop, think, and prioritize all aspects of my life, even the most mundane. Take last Saturday for example:

7:30 a.m. – I wanted to bake muffins, but needed to run to the grocery store for a few ingredients. Or I could have eggs and toast. I chose eggs and toast to save energy and time.

8:00 a.m. – I made my grocery list but chose to grocery shop on Sunday.

8:30 a.m. – Shower but skip doing my hair to save time and energy

9:00 a.m. – Sewing lessons (another blog post for another day!) I stayed an hour and a half longer than planned and enjoyed conversation I would have otherwise missed. While talking with my fellow student and instructor I found a new inspiration, a new challenge and a new friend. What a treat!

1:30 p.m. – Visit with the Hines while they built garden boxes and enjoyed an afternoon of sunshine.

6:00 p.m. – Carry out vegan sushi dinner as I was getting tired and chose to save my remaining energy for one last activity

7:30 p.m. – Evening walk with my wonderful husband

While this looks like a full day to many, I left a lot behind. I did not go to the party Saturday night as I was getting tired and preferred to spend time with Bird only. I did not do my laundry in favor of spending more time with our friends that afternoon. I chose to grocery shop on Sunday after yoga as the Whole Foods is on the way. I did not complete my beading project. I did not cook a gourmet meal. I did not blog.

I did, however, have a wonderful, simple day with minimal requirements and maximum enjoyment. For me, this was a different kind of day. This minimal take on my daily activities is having a bigger impact in the rest of my life than I had expected. I feel less stressed. I enjoy my time more. I notice more (a lovely sunset, a beautiful stranger). I savor more (a rare meal out, a lengthy conversation with a friend). I am not sure, but I think I might be a better wife and I know I’m a better cat mom (there has been more time for snuggling).

While it is grand to be productive, it is Divine to slow down. I challenge you, my readers, to find a way to slow down this weekend. What can you forego to make time to enjoy someone or something more? What do you notice that you had previously missed?


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the end of an era

 

Coffee from our trip to Costa Rica.

I have been downing coffee since high school. What began as a occassional cup of instant French Vanilla cappuccino grew to a monster of a caffeine addiction. There was a time in my life when I would pour four cups of coffee into a tall glass, add two to three shots of espresso and then a dash of vanilla cream. That was breakfast. The rest of the day was punctuated with cups of coffee from the office coffee pot. And I wondered why I had a hard time sleeping!

Moving to Lexington and being with Bird has been tremendously good for my health in many ways.

“Is that 16 oz tumbler filled with coffee???”

“Mmmmm, yeah…”

“Belle, that is TOO much coffee. You have a problem.”

In time I began to take these comments to heart and I actually gave up coffee in favor of a morning cup of Earl Gray tea and a little green tea throughout the day. While I missed the deliciousness of coffee, I felt amazing. My sleep was awesome, my days were full of energy. It was actually quite remarkable and I swore I would never turn back.

But then life got complicated – I was planning a wedding while working an extremely high-stress job. “I am now able to manage coffee in a responsible manner,” I announced one morning as I poured myself a respectable sized cup. It only took one sip. My “one cup” turned into “one giant cup” which turned into “one giant cup plus a small latte” and eventually into coffee throughout the day.

Last month I woke from another fitful sleep, rubbed my uveitis plagued eyes and stumbled to the kitchen to start the coffee. I watched as our gourmet coffee grounds swirled in the French press and thought – I don’t remember feeling this rotten when I was not drinking coffee. I thought about the boundless energy I had as a child – springing out of the bed at ridiculous hours (much to my parents dismay) and all the “stuff” I would accomplish.

It was time to come clean: I have a problem and the only solution is complete abstinence.

I have had lots of people look at me like I’m crazy and remind me that a cup of coffee here and there really does not hurt you. Then I remind them that a martini every now and then does not hurt you, either… unless you are an alcoholic. When it comes to coffee I am in need of meetings and support groups. There is no “moderation,” only elimination.

Rather than subject Mr. Husband and my kind coworkers to the wrath that is Belle during caffeine withdrawal, I started a caffeine taper. I reduced to two cups of coffee in the morning and two cups of green tea during the day. Then one coffee and two teas. Then one coffee and one tea. During our relaxing vacation to Florida I gave up my one coffee.

How do I feel? Fantastic. My sleep is rich and deep, my mornings are bright and my workdays are more productive. Even the cats seem to notice a change and spend more time quietly curling around my ankles than meowing loudly each morning.

To punctuate this life change I decided to sell my fancy Breville espresso maker. After just two days on Craigslist a buyer had been found – a lovely family new to Lexington and deeply in love with coffee. The perfect home for a perfect machine!

As I handed the Breville over I felt a twinge of sadness. Coffee and I have been together for many, many years. It is more than just an early morning jolt – it is a ritual. As my morning ritual wandered down the brick sidewalk I set another intention: I intend to find a new morning ritual that is just as satisfying, and much less inflammatory. I have no idea what could possibly replace coffee, but will be sure to keep you all informed when I hit upon it. In the meantime, I’m going to make a cup of decaf herbal tea to invoke some creative juices as I dive into my next big project – organizing my closet.

 

 


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Intentions, Needles

 

The fruits of my first Illustrator project.

As Euclid and I informed you all, my uveitis has returned. This round has left me frustrated and fed up with my body. Why does something I take such good care of fail me? The return of uveitis coupled with some other more personal ailments led me down the slippery spiral of “Why me?”

For the first time, I noticed that every element of my life was suffering because of this mentality. My work was lagging. My creativity was low. My yoga was unsatisfying. My walks were empty. My cooking was bland. My relationship felt stressed. Even my cats were acting more unruly than usual.

Could this frustration with my own body be creating such malaise in my surrounding world?

One of my first Sunday’s at “yoga church” the instructor wrote: “Om Ritam Namah – My intentions and desires are supported by the universe.” on a tablet.

I found this short statement tremendously profound and after class scribbled it on a piece of paper for future reference.  Om Ritam Namah. This would imply that if I truly desire and intend to take control of my body, the universe/world/God/whatever-you-call-it will support it.

After much contemplation I made a decision, no, I set an intention – I would heal. I had been doing a lot of research into natural healing in the months since the uveitis began. I read a lot of what I consider mindless dribble while looking for treatments that were natural, had some scientific backing and would complement yoga.

Acupuncture seemed to fit the bill pretty well – it was noninvasive, did not come with a host of terrible side effects, involved one-on-one work with a practitioner and many medical professionals, scientific papers, etc. have cited that, for reasons beyond their comprehension,  it appears to have a positive effect on people.

Om Ritam Namah. My intentions and desires are supported by the universe. I intend and desire to take control of this frustration and these ailments. And so I made an appointment for 3 p.m. yesterday.

My palms were sweaty as I signed the consent form and sat in the waiting room. Anyone who knows me even a little bit is WELL aware that I am not a fan of needles. I had also made the dire mistake of telling people I was going. I was met with lukewarm or ice-cold responses. One friend went so far as to lecture to me that science fixes people, not Chinese medicine. Now go take more steroids.

I tried to let these statements go but it was hard. The negative opinions swirled in my brain during the consultation making it difficult to focus. At one point I started to cry and then immediately felt anger for being so weak. This was not going well.

After an exhaustive discussion the treatment began. The first needle went in. Not bad. Another poke, and another poke. I lost count around 10. Some needles hurt, others I didn’t even feel.

I expected the acupuncturist would stay with me during the first treatment. Instead she closed the curtains and left me with all these thoughts and monsters. Panicky and negative thoughts. Worries that this was all a lost cause and that I was, in fact, wasting money. The needles were hurting. Surely this would not fix my problems. The needles hurt more. I began worrying about work. I should be editing right now. The needles around my shoulder blades began to burn. Would the needles make me bleed? Were they clean? What if this sheet draped over them made them tear my skin?

I have no idea how much time was spent worrying but at some point a strange twitching deep in my abdomen put the worry to an abrupt halt. “What on earth was that?” I muttered out loud. Was something happening? I realized that worrying this much would likely hinder any positive progress.

I closed my eyes, breathed deeply and tried to relax. I visualized the blood flowing through veins and arteries, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the points where the needles were sticking. The blood moved from the needles to the brain and signaled the release of hormones and messages to my organs. All the bodily systems began to hum and work as one unit, moving towards a common cause – my intention. I began to visualize and focus on this intention.

Gradually the needles seemed to disappear. When my mind strayed a needle would burn. I drifted into peaceful warmth that was not quite sleep but definitely not awake.

After about 75 minutes the needles were removed and I stood in the dimly lit, pale green room and mulled over the experience. Maybe this was the entire point of acupuncture – to learn to shut out the noise and focus fully on an intention. Maybe it is this silence of the mind that lets the body heal. I surprised myself by returning to the front desk and scheduling a treatment plan. If it takes needles being poked into my flesh to learn to turn off my brain, I was game. At the least, it can teach me to create silence and stillness in my very noisy mind. And maybe, just maybe, it will help me to get better.


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BBQ Seitan Pitas with Roasted Bell Peppers For My Mom

My mom is a meat and potatoes kinda gal. I am not. Food is something we have never seen eye to eye on. I can’t understand why someone would want to eat a pork chop, and she can’t fathom someone would choose to eat spelt pasta with shiitake mushrooms and vegan “cheese” sauce. What, she asks, is wrong with Velveeta?

“You have to embrace new things when you have this many allergies,” I say lightly. Challenging as my journey has been, I have come a long way in two years and am proud of my progress.

Recently my mom has found herself facing a different kind of dietary challenge – high blood pressure. Rather than swallowing a daily pill forever, she has decided to embark on her own dietary journey and learn to control it naturally. I was thrilled when she told me this. At last! We have food in common!

I’m excited for anyone who chooses to take the leap and alter their diet. When it is my own mother, though, I am ecstatic. I understand the woes of a restricted diet and am so happy that I am able to share some knowledge with my sweet mom.

I have spent the last few weeks reading labels and cookbooks in search of heart-healthy meals that my mom would also enjoy. I must admit that I am shocked that my very healthy diet is not always low in sodium. Much like dairy, sodium lurks in everything, even non processed foods. While a daily allowance of 1,500 milligrams sounds like a lot, it adds up fast and can be challenging to stay within.

Mom expressed sadness at how much sodium her regular bottled BBQ sauce has. “Oh! I make one from scratch that is sooooo good and much better for you! I’ll put together a blog post on it!” Off to the kitchen I went with my notebook in hand. A few days later I began editing photos and putting together nutrition facts and WOW what an eye opener! While this BBQ sauce is better than a lot of prepared brands, it is about the same as the expensive, organic BBQ sauces at specialty stores. You be the judge and tell me what you think? Any tips from sodium watchers on how to further lower the sodium?

Sodium content aside, this recipe is pretty darn healthy and extremely versatile. Bird and I prepare it with the vegan’s “wheat meat,” seitan. Seitan is packed with protein, low in fat and super low in sodium. It is also ridiculously, almost shamefully, easy to make. If mom feels super adventurous she can make this with seitan, or if she is not quite ready to enter the world of veganism, she can easily substitute baked or grilled chicken.

BBQ Seitan Pitas with Roasted Bell Peppers

FIRST: Make the Seitan

Fill a large stock pot with four quarts of water and 1/2 cup low-sodium tamari. This will be the stock that you cook the seitan in. The tamari gives the seitan a bit of color and flavor. If you are watching your sodium intake, you can easily leave this out and substitute four whole cloves of garlic and a bay leaf in to season the seitan.

Sticky blob is forming

While the water comes to a boil, add 1 cup warm water to 1 cup vital wheat gluten. Mix with your hand until a sticky blob forms. Add a little more water if there is still some gluten powder in the bottom of the bowl.

Knead the blob underwater a few times.

Knead the blob a few times and then fill the bowl with fresh warm water and knead the blob under water, changing the water each time it gets cloudy. I do this three to five times.

Small pieces of seitan are left to boil for one hour.

Once your blob has been thoroughly kneaded and your stock pot is boiling, break off peanut sized pieces of seitan and drop them in the water. Let the seitan boil away for one hour.

SECOND: Roast your peppers!

I love roasted red and green peppers. They are ridiculously easy to make if you have a gas stove, too. If you don’t have a gas stove you can use a grill or your oven. To roast peppers on a gas stove, first wash and dry your peppers and then trim the stem down. For this recipe I roasted one red and one green bell pepper.

The peppers are getting closer.

Fire up your burners and plop a pepper on each burner. Rotate them periodically with a pair of tongs until they are super charred.

One pepper is done!

Once soft and charred, place the peppers in a bowl and let them cool off while you prepare your BBQ sauce and slice the onions.

THIRD: Slice 1/2 a large onion.

Thinly sliced onions will compliment the thin slices of roasted peppers.

Slice half an onion into thin strips, then slice the strips in half. Set aside.

FOURTH: Make the sauce.

BBQ Sauce Fixin's

I much prefer my own BBQ sauce over anything store-bought. This way I know for sure there is nothing funky in it, no strange chemicals and I can control the amount of sodium. This recipe for  BBQ Sauce has been tweaked to lower the sodium. If you are not watching your sodium use regular tomato paste, otherwise, hunt down the no-salt paste.

Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes or so until it thickens slightly.

Mix the following ingredients in a small sauce pan and then simmer for five minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.

1 6 oz can organic tomato paste – 150 calories, 100 mg sodium
1 tsp. Dijon mustard –  0 calories, 18 mg sodium
1/4 cup dark, unsulfured molasses 168 calories, 40 mg sodium
1/4 cup reduced sodium tamari – 60 calories, 2,800 mg sodium
2 TBS apple cider vinegar – 0 calories, 0 mg sodium
3 TBS organic raw blue agave nectar (or other agave nectar) – 180 calories, 0 mg sodium
1 TBS nutritional yeast flakes – 10 calories, 0 mg sodium
1 cup water

This makes about 2 cups sauce. each 1/4 cup serving has 113 calories, 508 mg sodium

Notes about sodium: I am still shocked at how much sodium this sauce actually has. I originally made it with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, which I was certain had less sodium than tamari. Turns out, I was wrong. So this recipe calls for tamari, the picture shows Bragg’s. You choose based on your needs. Using no-sodium tomato paste would also reduce the sodium considerably. I will continue to experiment in finding an alternative to tamari and report back should I have success.

FIFTH: Finish the peppers.

Rub the charred skin off each pepper.

By now the peppers should be cool enough to handle. Using your hands, gently rub the charred skin off each pepper.

 

Beautiful roasted peppers!

Rinse the remaining flakes off and then carefully slice the peppers into thin strips.

SIXTH: Put it all together.

Using a slotted spoon, remove your seitan from the pot and set aside.

Slowly pour the sauce over the peppers and seitan.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions till translucent then add seitan, roasted peppers and the BBQ sauce. Cook until heated through.

Not the best photo but a really delicious meal!

Carefully stuff the seitan, peppers and sauce mixture into whole wheat pitas. Drizzle a little sauce over each one and serve with a side of steamed broccoli.