Textured vegetable protein, or TVP, is a highly concentrated mixture made from soy flour. It’s very easy to cook, has virtually no taste and has no fat. Doesn’t sound very appetizing, right? Actually, that’s far from the truth.
I’m a big fan of using vegetable protein in place of ground beef , turkey or chicken. TVP is most often made from high protein content soy flour, but it can be made of cotton seeds, wheat or oats. The mixture is extruded, and becomes a spongy mass that is then cut into chunks, nuggets or grains. These shapes are then dried. TVP is approximately 50% protein before rehydration.
When reconstituted, the TVP can be mixed with ground beef, turkey or chicken with a ratio as high as 3:1. The TVP takes on the flavor of the meat that it is mixed with and makes a fantastic filler. It’s very inexpensive and can be shelf stable for up to a year. These qualities make TVP a staple for those who follow a vegetarian, and in some cases, vegan, lifestyle. For those who are trying to lose weight, the reality that it is fat and cholesterol free make TVP a dream come true.
Morningstar Farms is one of the most widely known companies to offer a line of vegetarian “faux” meat products that use TVP. Among the products are bacon and sausage substitutes, corn dogs and my personal favorite, crumbles. I mix the crumbles in when I make chili, spaghetti sauce or tacos, and not one person can tell. Once, I replaced all of the ground beef in my chili recipe with TVP crumbles, and my 6’3″ biker brother-in-law ate three bowls…and then proclaimed it the best chili he ever had.
For those who are trying to eat less meat, lower fat or attempting a vegetarian lifestyle, vegetable protein is right up your alley.