Textured Vegetable Protein, oftentimes called TVP®, is a pantry staple in my kitchen. The inspiration for writing about TVP® came when my husband found a bag of it on the counter and exclaimed, “What is that!?!?” I explained it’s what he happily gobbled down in his tacos last week and in his spaghetti tonight. I use it in many recipes where you would typically use ground beef or turkey. The only ingredient in plain TVP is de-fatted soy flour. (Don’t let this stop you from reading the rest – it’s good! Just look at the picture.)
Textured Vegetable Protein, developed in 1964, is made by rolling soybeans into flakes. The oil naturally occurring in these flakes is then removed. Additional processing transforms the flakes into little granules known as textured vegetable protein. Adding boiling water to the granules rehydrates them and makes them ready to use in your favorite recipe.
TVP® has a wonderful texture similar to cooked ground beef, but has no flavor of its own. It absorbs the flavors of the food it’s cooked with, making it perfect for dishes like spaghetti sauce and chili. Try using it in place of half of the ground beef in your favorite recipe. As you cook the TVP® with the ground beef, it will absorb the flavor of the ground beef. Many food manufacturers use Textured Vegetable Protein in their ground meat products so you’ve probably been enjoying it without even realizing it.
So why try Textured Vegetable Protein? TVP® is a great source of protein yet has little to no fat. It’s also a good source of iron, potassium, and fiber. Best of all it costs less than half as much as ground beef. But the main reason I use TVP® is that it’s super easy to have in my pantry. I can just toss some into pasta sauce or heat it up with taco seasoning and salsa for tacos. I don’t have to worry about defrosting it or using it within a few days of purchasing it. (Once rehydrated, you do have to use it within a few days like any other leftovers.)
To find Textured Vegetable Protein, look in the health food section of your local grocery store or try a health food store. If you can’t find it, there are many online stores that sell TVP®.
Here are a few delicious ways to enjoy Textured Vegetable Protein. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Spaghetti Sauce (pictured above)
In a small bowl, pour 3/4 cup boiling water over 3/4 cup TVP®. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Combine with your favorite jar (26 oz.) of spaghetti sauce. Heat to a boil and then let simmer for a few minutes. Enjoy on your favorite pasta.
Place 1 cup of TVP® in a medium size saucepan. Add 7/8 cup boiling water and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Add a packet of taco seasoning and 1/2 cup salsa. Bring to a boil and then let simmer to desired thickness.
Slow Cooker Vegetable Chili
Place all ingredients listed below in a slow cooker. Stir until ingredients are well mixed. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Enjoy!
2 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can corn, rinsed and drained
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, do not drain
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder, add more or less to taste
4 to 5 cups tomato juice, low sodium
1 cup Textured Vegetable Protein