In the mood for brats.

21 Feb

No, I'm not talking about my children, although they do fit that description some days!
I'm talking brats — those tasty grilled sausages that are a staple of summer cookouts and Super Bowl parties. Unfortunately, store-bought brats are far from healthy. The average pork or beef brat has 300 calories, 15g of protein, 25 grams of fat and 700mg of sodium! 
I couldn't find a vegan brat recipe, but I found a recipe online for vegan sausages and it had a ton of good reviews so I decided to give it a try today.  I made the recipe exactly as written and the reviewers were right — these are really good. The texture is "freakishly sausage-like," as the author states. The end result is very much like Italian turkey sausage. I say "turkey" because it wasn't as greasy as a pork sausage. Even Madison thought it tasted just like "the sausage in our Thanksgiving stuffing" — which I make with Italian turkey sausage. She liked it. Brady tried a bite, too, and said it tasted just like sausage only too spicy for him (it has crushed red pepper flakes in it).
Besides being yummy, these are healthy! The recipe makes 6 bun-length sausages and each link has 164 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 23 grams of protein and 278mg of sodium. And if that's not enough to convince you, making them with this recipe came to about $3 per pound. Not bad.
Here's the original recipe:

The next time I make this version I'm going to increase the oregano and black pepper. I thought it needed more. I might also add a dash of salt substitute. Another note: if you follow his directions, he says to get your steaming apparatus ready and bring the water to a full boil first because the rest of the recipe comes together quickly. He's right — the recipe does come together quickly, but rolling them into links isn't as easy as it sounds. After 10 minutes of measuring ingredients and mixing, it took me a good 15 minutes to get them shaped right and rolled in foil. By then, my boiling water was almost gone. My advice would be to mix everything together and then bring the water to a boil while you roll and wrap the links. Also, you need to steam them for 30-40 minutes, so make sure you have plenty of water in your pot so it doesn't boil away before you're done steaming.
After the success of this recipe, I decided to try making beer brats from scratch with no meat. I started with the above recipe, but changed all the seasonings to ones more typical of brats (thanks, Mom, for looking that up for me!). Then I used a couple cans of beer to steam them with. They look pretty good, but the true test will be tomorrow night. I'm planning on grilling a couple for dinner when Jason gets home from his guys' camping weekend. I'm going to top them with kraut, grilled onions and peppers, and all the usual toppings. If it passes the "hubby test," I'll post the recipe tomorrow.

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