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Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP): What is it?
If you’ve decided to remove animal-based products from your diet, getting protein from other sources can seem tricky, but it doesn’t have to! While meat is a commonly recognized source of protein, you still have options like beans, nuts, and lentils. Another great source you might consider is a plant-based protein called Textured Vegetable Protein, or TVP.
What is Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)?
Surprisingly, Textured Vegetable Protein isn’t actually vegetable-based. Rather, it’s a soy-based (hello legumes!) product created from man-made soy flour. The flour is produced by removing the oil through a high-pressure transformation process. Once the fat has been removed, what’s left is a protein-packed flour or paste that is then turned into meat-like shapes while hot. After it cools, it’s a light or caramel brown color, holds its shape, and is sold as granules, pellets, chunks, and flakes. The versatility makes TVP ready for any recipe you can imagine!
How Should TVP Be Used?
TVP can be used in a variety of recipes, either as the main source of protein, or to extend meat protein, such as sausage or hamburger. One thing to keep in mind when buying Textured Vegetable Protein is that it comes as a dehydrated product, meaning it needs to be rehydrated before it’s used. The good news is that TVP is basically flavorless, and easily soaks up the flavor of whatever liquid is used to rehydrate it. This versatility makes a great meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians because it provides protein and can be flavored to taste like the meat it’s replacing, or any favorite veggie-based meals.
Not only is TVP easy to season, but its texture resembles the texture of ground meat, making it ideal for a number of traditional meat dishes. Some popular vegetarian dishes that use TVP include tacos, chili, soup, and burgers. To save time, look for a pre-seasoned TVP that matches the recipe you are making.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of TVP
Textured Vegetable Protein provides many of the nutrients your body needs. Like other soy products, it is a great source of complete protein. Soy contains at least a small amount of all the amino acids your body needs to be healthy, and that it would otherwise get from animal products. It’s also a great source of iron and calcium. And for those who are conscious about their weight or calorie intake, TVP has the added benefit of being extremely low in fat and cholesterol, making it a low-calorie way to get the protein your body needs.
One downside to the lack of fat in TVP is that it’s missing the important Omega-3 fats that unprocessed soybeans usually offer. While it’s easy to see fat as the enemy, your body needs some fats to stay healthy. The Omega-3 and monounsaturated fats that soybeans provide are some of the healthiest fats you can eat. You’ll need to find other vegan sources of these healthy fats if you choose to make TVP a common source of protein in your diet.
It’s also important to remember that TVP is a highly processed food. While it’s a great source of protein and necessary minerals, processed soybeans do not provide all the health benefits of unprocessed ones. Make sure you are also eating whole, unprocessed sources of protein, as eating too much processed food can be hard on your body.
Keep your vegan or vegetarian diet packed full of vitamins and minerals with a supplement that supports your healthy lifestyle: Sun Chlorella.
One last thing to be aware of when eating Textured Vegetable Protein is food allergies. TVP is popular because it’s usually gluten-free. Most of the time, TVP is made from soy, which is fine to eat if you are gluten intolerant. Of course, this also means that those with soy allergies should avoid it altogether.
Recipes and Meal Ideas
As mentioned above, Textured Vegetable Protein looks like and can be flavored like many different kinds of meats. It’s a great option if you’re looking to replace the meat in traditional recipes. Just remember, before using it in a meal, you’ll need to rehydrate it using one cup of hot water for every one cup of TVP.
Here are some great ways to use TVP in your cooking:
Tacos: Because of its versatility, TVP can be used for any type of taco you prefer, whether that’s beef, chicken, or pork. You can even purchase meat flavored TVP if you’re looking for one of these specific types of meat. The easiest way to make tacos is to season the water you are using to rehydrate the TVP with taco seasoning. Then saute it with a little bit of oil (feel free to add garlic and onions) for 5-10 minutes, and then place it in a tortilla with the toppings of your choice.
Soup: Rehydrate one cup of TVP with water or vegetable broth for 5-10 minutes. Then saute onions and garlic in oil and add in TVP. Add in the rest of your soup broth, about 4-5 cups, and any vegetables and spices you like. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Veggie Burger: You can buy beef-flavored TVP, or rehydrate the TVP in seasoned broth to give it a ground beef flavor. You’ll want to use flakes, rather than chunks to give the burger the right texture. Recipes vary, but you’ll need to add wheat and some sort of binder to help the patty hold together. Once you’ve formed patties, you can grill and eat them on a bun with your favorite burger toppings.
If you’re looking for exact recipes, try re-hydrating it in a seasoned broth and adding it to these recipes for vegan quesadillas and macro bowls.
There’s no wrong way to enjoy textured vegetable protein, so pick your favorite recipes and get creative. Adding protein to your meatless diet just got a lot easier. And while you’re upping your protein, don’t forget to watch your vitamin and mineral intake as well. Check out what vitamins vegans are commonly deficient in.
Further reading for vegan health and nutrition: