Saturday, May 15, 2010

Black Eyed Pea and Seitan Sausage in Cajun Sauce

As usual the hubby and I discuss our weekend dinner plans in the morning while we are having breakfast. This morning Tyler Florence was making gumbo and that had me thinking about Cajun food. I decided to combine the concept of gumbo and jambalaya and make a dish that was both vegan and healthy.

Most gumbos are thickened using a brown roux. I didn’t want to use that much flour. The longer you cook a roux the less thickening ability it has. Brown roux contains a lot of flour that isn’t actually thickening the dish. I knew I wanted to use something other than flour to thicken the sauce. I used a little cornstarch instead. While it is still starch, and therefore can elevate your blood glucose, my recipe uses much less than the traditional versions so I thought it was a good compromise.

Instead of making this dish with a bunch of meat analogs I decided to focus on beans and veggies with a few seitan sausages as a condiment. This dish can be made with any veggies you like. I used what I had on hand. The sauce is what gives this dish its Cajun flavor. Black eyed peas were used because they always make me think of Southern food, and today was the running of the Preakness. Blacked eyed peas and black eye Susan’s, see the connection? Okay, it was weak, but I tried, LOL. While I added carrot to the dish it is not traditional but I like the flavor, texture and beta carotene it adds. The actual recipe can be found further down in this post.

My Food Today:

Oddly I am getting used to documenting what I eat all day long. It still feels a little strange to be sharing so much information. But if it gives anyone ideas for things to make it has served the purpose. I hope that you all see that I only cook once a day (microwaving oatmeal or leftovers doesn’t count, LOL). By making extra servings of dinner for lunch the next day we can have healthy food without me spending much time in the kitchen. I do make nut cheese, hummus or dressings on the weekend, but those last all week and only take a few minutes of actual work.

You may have noticed that I am not making as much seitan as I used to which is intentional. I felt as though we were eating too much of it, and it is a processed food (just look at the gluten). We have not eliminated seitan but I am trying to hold our consumption to a few servings a month max. Time will tell if this habit will stick. Dan loves my seitan so I may have to give in and make it more often if he starts requesting.

10:00am – Breakfast

½ cup oats
1 cup water
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
Sprinkle cinnamon
1 banana, sliced
1 rounded tablespoon reduced fat peanut butter

We start our mornings later on the weekend than during the week. We also like to have more indulgent breakfasts on the weekend. Today we decided to have our favorite oatmeal variation of peanut butter and banana. This oatmeal is so good. If you really want to take it over the top add a little jelly to the top.

1:00 pm – snack

Double green tea (2 bags) with ascorbate C added at the end since Vitamin C is heat sensitive
1 cup frozen grapes

3:00 pm – lunch/supper

Black eyed pea and seitan sausage in Cajun sauce (recipe later in this post)

5:00pm - snack

Double green tea (2 bags) with ascorbate C added at the end since Vitamin C is heat sensitive

7:30pm – dinner

1 cup beet greens and 1 cup of collard greens julienned which I wilted
½ cup cooked millet (Dan’s favorite whole grain)
½ serving fennel and red lentil sauce (from last night)
A few cherry tomatoes for garnish
Splash of red wine vinegar to wake up the flavor of the greens and sauce

When we are eating leftovers I like to serve them a little differently so that we don’t get bored. Since I thought we needed the calories I put the sauce from yesterday over a little millet. I added the wilted greens for extra nutrition. Cherry tomatoes were added for temperature variation and for the pop they have under your teeth.


I had mentioned a few weeks ago that we have changed dinner with the parents to a late lunch or supper instead. This works out better for everyone. Dan and I consider it lunch and can eat another meal later in the day. My parents, who go to bed with the chickens, make this their last meal of the day. It works out better in terms of eating for us, but it does cause me to start cooking earlier in the day. I may need to start prepping on Friday to make these meals a little easier to deal with. If I find something that works well I will let you know. I suspect I will need to start meal planning, at least on the weekend. Can you tell I am struggling with that concept? But it makes sense so I am going to give it a try, again. ;-)

This dish is only mildly hot. I think as written this could be served to almost anyone. Even my mother didn’t find it too hot. Of course I would prefer it to be spicier but it is a good base for all tastes. Here is what I did:

Black Eyed Pea and Seitan Sausage in Cajun Sauce
Serves 4

Topping Ingredients:

1 cup black eyed peas (dry)
3 cups of water to soak the peas
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely minced (about 2 cups)
1 cup celery (or fennel), roughly chopped
1 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup water to sauté the aromatics
2 cans rotel tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Cayenne, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems (or ¾ teaspoon dried thyme)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons corn water (or as much as is necessary to achieve the thickness you desire)
½ pound seitan sausage, thinly sliced (2 links of tofurky sausage would be a good substitute for homemade)
2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish
¼ cup fresh parsley or spinach, minced for garnish (more is great if you want more vitamin K)

Rice Ingredients:

1 ½ cups brown rice
3 cups water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced


Combine the beans and water and soak overnight or quick soak by bringing the water to a boil then turning off the heat and allowing the beans to soak for an hour. Then cook until the beans are tender.

Combine the rice, water and garlic and cook according to the rice package directions. Fluff with a fork after the rice has stood covered for 10 minutes once the rice has absorbed the water. This extra 10 minutes allows the rice to finish steaming resulting in grains that are more separate.

Water sauté the onions, garlic, celery and bell peppers until lightly cooked, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining topping ingredients including the beans but not including the cornstarch, seitan sausage, green onions and parsley garnish. Cook until the flavors have married, at least 15 minutes but thirty is better. Add the cornstarch slurry (a little at a time) and the seitan sausage and cook to thicken the sauce and warm the sausage. Remove the bay leaves. Add the greens just before serving. You can place them on top or you can stir them into the dish.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 619.85
Calories From Fat (12%) - 75.88

Total Fat - 8.37g
Saturated Fat - 1.11g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1009.25mg
Potassium 0 1123.85mg
Total Carbohydrates - 105.05g
Fiber - 13.54g
Sugar - 8.75g
Protein - 32.15g


This is an easy meal that was enjoyed by healthy vegans and unhealthy omnis alike. As I have said before it is difficult to think of new dishes my parents will enjoy that Dan and I also consider healthy enough for us to eat. Soups, stews, salads and anything served over rice seem to work for everyone. My husband thought this was “perfect” which think was a stretch. But we all agreed that I was good. My father is from Houston so he likes Southern food and the spicier the better. My mother is another story entirely. She thinks black pepper is spicy. This dish is mildly spicy. If this were just for Dan and I the heat level would have been turned up. Overall this dish hits all the flavor notes of Cajun food. I would suggest you increase the heat.

Each serving of this meal contains approximately 2,400IU of vitamin A, 195mg of calcium, 8.5mg of iron, 345mcg of folate, 130mg of vitamin K, 480mg of phosphorus, 220mg of magnesium and 22mcg of selenium. The protein content of this meal is higher than most I think because it included both beans and seitan. However the sodium is a little high even though I didn’t add any. This was due mostly to the Rotel tomatoes which contain over 1,200mg per can. Canned tomatoes are frequently high in sodium so you need to be aware of that when planning your meals for the day.

The one thing about this meal that stood of for me was how filling it was. One big bowl of this and you are more than satisfied.

Fun Facts Friday Follow-Up:

I wanted to thank all of you that are playing along with fun facts Friday. I am enjoying reading your answers. My intention for this was to get to know each other a little better by including questions about things most of us don’t think of often but which gives insight into what we think. If any of you have suggestions for future questions please let me know. I have started compiling a list of ideas. This concept may go on for many months at the rate I am writing questions. I hope you are all enjoying the answers as much as I am.

Unrelated notes:

Dan and I were moving slowly today. On Saturday we tend to sleep until we wake up instead of using the alarm clock since it is our only day to do that. Dan managed to get in a little sci fi time while I worked on this post. Overall it was a fairly relaxing day. The weather was very cooperative today. There was a light breeze and the temperatures were in the upper 70’s. It has been a lovely temperate spring day. The felines enjoyed hanging out in the windows today with their fuzz blowing in the breeze.

Tomorrow morning will start early with a trip to the farmers’ market. I will see if I can get any pictures. The market is under an elevated road so the light isn’t the best. But if I get some good shots I will share them in the morning along with what we bring back. We are both looking forward to having local organic produce in the refrigerator. I really love our organic CSA as well as all the wonderful local produce that is available at the market.

I hope you all had a great Saturday. Talk to you tomorrow.


  1. There's nothing wrong with a slow Saturday! Love the oatmeal of course. Can't go wrong with bananas and peanut butter. Dinner looks great. I need to try this one. Of course, I still need to make my own seitan...but that's beside the point ;-)

  2. Heather,

    That is our favorite weekend oatmeal. I know you understand why. ;-)

    When I saw the protein content on dinner I thought you would be right there to try it, LOL. Tofurky sausages have a good protein content I would go with that since it is so much easier.

    talk to you later,

  3. Oh thanks for that suggestion. I like those, the only thing I hate is the sodium content. We do have a package though...

  4. Heather,

    That was the brand I used before I started making my own. They do have a good flavor and texture. Since many food manufacturers are lowering sodium maybe Tofurky will follow the crowd. :-)


  5. I love oatmeal and peanut butter's one of my favorites. The cajun dish looks good too, sounds really satisfying.

    If I'm in a pinch, I use Field Roast vegan sausages...they are pretty close to homemade seitan in terms of texture and ingredients...the Italian ones are pretty good.

    Love the image of your kitties sitting in the sun with their fur tufting in the breeze.

    Have fun in the garden!

  6. What do you know--I'm making gumbo today, too, for Sunday dinner. Mine is more traditional. Of course okra can give you some of the thickening without the flour, or in addition to it. :-) I understand wanting to cut way back on that and the oil, but a little roux can go a long way, and it imparts a special flavor, especially if you drop the veggies in it to brown a bit before adding the liquid ingredients. The onion, bell pepper, celery, and okra all benefit from this treatment.

    Please take my thoughts as just plain sharing rather than making suggestions, as I am usually in awe of your creations. :-)

  7. Rose,

    Oatmeal and pb is great isn't it? It is definitely my favorite oatmeal combination. Have you tried adding jelly?

    Thanks for the tip on the Field Roast sausages. I will keep that in mind the next time I run out of homemade seitan sausage.

    I thought about getting a picture of them in the window, but laziness won out and I didn't do it. I will try to get a good pic soon. ;-)


  8. Cindy,

    I have made gumbo the traditional way in the past. But I just can't allow myself to use all that flour any longer. Once I understand the health consequences of things I am almost incapable of allowing myself to indulge, except for rare treats. For me those treats are homemade ravioli and bread. My husband has good reason for nicknaming me "the Nutrition Nazi". ;-)

    I took your suggestion in the spirit in which you intended. :-) You had no way of knowing why I made the change or if I had made the traditional version before.

    hope you are having a good weekend,

  9. loved the ice cream scoop shaped pb! i seriously thought it was ice cream! i saw what you wrote to me on your last post, ill look forward to seeing what you get at the csa. how fun that you get to choose!

  10. Michelle,

    I used a 1/2 tablespoon measure and loaded it up with peanut butter. Dan got a loaded tablespoon, which is what was pictured. I am such a food geek, LOL. I like how it looks like ice cream too.

    We just got back from the farmers market and bought stuff in addition to our CSA stash. I took a few pictures while we were there. Now I need to write the post.

    talk to you later,


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