One of the advantages of being a vegetarian is that I never have to pay the ridiculously high prices for meat. A few months into being a vegetarian I found the morning star veggie crumbles. They are in a word, amazing! They taste exactly like ground meat. The only down side to the morning star veggie crumbles is that they are on avergae 3.50 per bag (1 bag = 1 pound of "meat"). At that price I might as well buy meat. Except that I don't eat meat. So I looked at what the crumbles are made of and decided that it couldnt be that hard to recreate them. That when I was introduced to the wonderful world of TVP.
Here are the basics about TVP:
What is TVP?
TVP stands for textured vegetable protein. TVP is a food product made from soybeans. It is produced from soy flour after the soybean oil has been extracted, then cooked under pressure, extruded, and dried.
Benefits of TVP
TVP is very high in protein and fiber and has zero cholesterol.
With TVP you never have to worry about ecoli or other bacteria that is associated with cooking raw meat.
The shelf life of TVP that has been dried and stored in an airtight container is 2 years. I don't know any meat with a shelf life of 2 years!
Generally I can find one pound of dried TVP from the bulk bins for $1.49 per lb. Rehydrated TVP triples itself. So that breaks down to 3 pounds of meat for $1.49 or $.49 a pound! When Making tacos burritos or other mexican dishes I also tend to put 1 part rice to 2 parts TVP which make it stretch even farther.
How to cook with TVP
To rehydrate, add 1 cup boiling water (or stock) to 1 cup TVP and cook 6-10 minutes in the microwave. If making TVP in small batches I will add taco seasoning, powdered BBQ seasoning, garlic powder or other flavoring to the water that I rehydrate the TVP with. Usually I make TVP in large batches and freeze it once its been rehydrated so all I have to do is take a scoop from the freezer and heat it up. If I make TVP this way I cook it plain and add the seasoning as its reheating.
For meat eaters a good way to introduce TVP into your diet (and trick your family) is to mix a bit of TVP into your meat dish and gradually increase the amount until you are cooking with primarily TVP. Your family will not be able to tell the difference between ground meat and TVP, its amazing!
I hope this helped to open some minds to TVP and some people will give it a try! If you have any questions please ask!