Friday, October 12, 2012

How to Cook with TVP

Far away in the land of vegan cooking, there lives a magic ingredient named TVP. It's texture resembles ground beef, minus the fat and cholesterol. This little gem is also chock full of nutrition like protein and even fiber. But the tragedy of this story lies in the fact that not many people know that it exists...and if they do, they often don't know how to cook with it. Well, it's time for all that to change.

The "Green Wizard of the Midwest" (aka "Me") is here to save the day and teach you how this magical ingredient can be used to "veganize" traditional dishes, thus enhancing their nutritional value and decreasing  fat content. Hopefully before we're all done, you'll be starting your "happily ever after" as you dig into a bowl of spaghetti with TVP.

Now TVP is nothing new on this good ol' green blog of mine. I posted about it several months ago in this post. But in the past few weeks, I've come to use TVP more often as my life has took for a turn for busy as I went back to my teaching job, and I just can't say enough good things about how quick, easy, and cheap this stuff is and I was determined to get the word out there about it. So I'm back again to post about TVP, and this time I'm armed with a short little video that shows just how easy it is to cook with.

Before we get started with the demo, let's learn what TVP actually is...

TVP (or it's real name: Textured Vegetable Protein...sometimes it's called TSP for Textured Soy Protein) is actually "defatted soy flour" that has been cooked under pressure and then dried. It comes in a granule/nugget-type form that looks a bit like oatmeal and when liquid is added to it, the granules "re-hydrate" and take on a texture similar to ground beef.

Sound too weird to try?  I know how you feel, I thought the same thing when I went vegan, but did you know you may be eating it already? If you look closely at the back of most veggie-meat replacements like a Boca Burger or Morningstar Farms hot dog, well, you can pretty much bet that one of the main ingredients in those "meats" is TVP.

With that in mind, one benefit of using plain TVP is that we're cutting straight to the source!
Instead of pretend "meat crumbles" with a long ingredient list (that usually includes wheat- a "no no" for me) I stick with plain ol' TVP to give me that reminiscent ground beef texture, minus all the extra sodium and preservatives. 

Health benefits of TVP: high in protein (12g in 1/4 cup dry TVP) virtually no fat, high in fiber (4g in 1/4 cup dry TVP) iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Other benefits of TVP: it's cheap! A 10 oz. pkg online costs about $3 here or you could find it at your local health food store for pretty close to that price as well. It's often found in the baking aisle.  Now by using a 1/2 cup per meal (the amount called for in this recipe) you could get about 6 meals out of that one cheap little bag! That's 50 cents per meal...quite a savings since 1 lb of ground beef or turkey would probably cost you about $1.75 or more.  Sweet!

At my local health food store, I get the Bob's Red Mill 
High Protein TVP.

When it comes to cooking with TVP, the possibilities are endless. You can use TVP to make:

Sloppy Joes...find the recipe here this "Chili Mac-style" dish (inspired by 
"Cincinnati Suburb Chili" from Vegan on the Cheap 
by Robin Robertson 

 Or burritos, or your own homemade veggie burgers, or my all-time favorite...

As a meat-less meat sauce over spaghetti.

I love this meat-less meat sauce recipe so much, I use it when
I make gluten-free, vegan lasagna.

Now I'm a fan of spaghetti in any form, but when I was looking to add a little extra protein to my usual spaghetti dish, I found a friend in TVP. As you'll see in the steps below, you just hydrate the TVP, and then stir it into the spaghetti sauce....BAM, you've got yourself one quick and easy "meat-less meat sauce".
Delicious spaghetti from this? Just wait and see!

Let's see how to make that recipe first with a video and then with pictures...

Spaghetti with Meatless Meat Sauce

All you need:
TVP, Spaghetti Sauce, Spaghetti

1. Measure out 1/2 cup TVP into a bowl.

2. Bring water to boil in a large stockpot for spaghetti noodles.
When the water starts boiling add the noodles and then
measure out 1/2 cup of the boiling water.

3. Pour this boiling water onto the TVP. *Now although the
TVP package gives measurements on how much water
to add to the TVP, I've found it works fine to just do equal
portions of water to TVP (just like you're cooking rice, so
1/2 cup TVP, 1/2 cup water).
4. Next pour your spaghetti sauce into a medium sauce pan
and turn onto Low.

5. To remove excess water from your TVP press a cloth napkin
or paper towel over the TVP until no extra water remains.
6. Now add the TVP to the sauce that has been warming, and
stir it in.  I like to put the lid on the sauce to really help the
TVP absorb the flavor.

7. Now once your pasta is done cooking, drain it, and rinse it
if necessary.

8.  When you're ready to eat, take the lid off the sauce and
prepare to serve it right onto the noodles.

Eat up!

That brings our vegan fairy tale to an end...I hope this has helped you learn a bit more about the fabulous meat-replacement, TVP.

Have you cooked with TVP before? If so, share your favorite recipe below. I would love to learn some new ones!

The End ( :

This post was also recently linked up to "Healthy Vegan Fridays" which you can find on any of these three blogs: Everyday Vegan GirlVeggie Nook, and Carrie On Vegan. So get your "vegan on" and check out some of these great recipes and vegan cooking tips!

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