A Complete Guide to Textured Vegetable Protein
Next to seitan and tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP) is now one of the most popular meat substitutes for vegans and vegetarians alike. However, this “faux meat” hasn't garnered the attention it deserves, even though it's quite nutritious. Meanwhile, nay-sayers keep touting that it's just "bad news in food disguise." But, what's really the truth? If you're also wondering whether textured vegetable protein is worth the try, here's everything you need to know about this delicious “faux meat.”
What is Textured Vegetable Protein?
Also known as textured soy protein (TSP) or soy meat, textured vegetable protein(1) (TVP) is a popular meat substitute that's usually made out of soybeans. This “faux meat” is manufactured by separating the soy protein from the rest of the components and compressing it into chunks, flakes, or granules. During the final stages, the defatted protein is dehydrated and prepped for cooking. Due to its grainy texture, TVP is also used as a meat extender, which means it's added to meat-based dishes to “extend” their reach and make them a tad healthier.
Is Textured Vegetable Protein Good For You?
Some say it's a “nutritional pitfall,” while others swear by its jaw-dropping protein content. TVP has enemies and supporters on both sides of the spectrum. But, what's really the verdict? Is textured vegetable protein good for your health or not? Well, here's what research has to say.
One of the biggest benefits of textured vegetable protein is its high nutritional value. Soybeans(2) contain all eight essential amino acids, which means they are a complete protein. They are also rich in a variety of micronutrients such as fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins (including B12). These being said, it's obvious that TVP is a first-class option for vegans and vegetarians who don't get enough protein and vitamin B12 through their diet.
Research(3) also shows that, when used as an extender, textured vegetable protein reduces the sodium and fat content in meat products. That practically means that TVP can favor those who want to cut back on salt and keep their calorie intake at bay.
The biggest controversy surrounding TVP has to do with soy's conflicting lab stats. You see, soy is rich in phytoestrogens(4), a group of nutrients that mimic estrogens to the tee. According to some experts(5), that can be a bad thing as these pseudo-estrogens could mess up with a person's hormonal balance (especially women) and stir up all kinds of health issues such as weight gain and infertility. In a few extreme cases, researchers(6) also conclude that consuming soy-based products could lead to breast cancer. However, most studies debunk these findings, proving that soy products like textured vegetable protein are safe to eat. Of course, moderation never hurt anyone(7).
Considering all of the above, it's obvious that textured vegetable protein is a quite healthy alternative for those who want to cut back on meat. And that's because it's low in calories, sodium, and fat. More than that, it's a full protein, meaning it's perfect for vegans and vegetarians. But, as with every food out there, it should be consumed in moderation because of soy's known hormonal effects. And speaking of which, TVP is not recommended for people with allergies as soy is a major allergen.
How to Cook With Vegetable Textured Protein
The best thing about textured vegetable protein is that it takes on the flavor of the foods you cook it with. So, whether you make burger patties or homemade soyrizos, all you need to do for an extra flavor kick is season the TVP with the right herbs and spices. Just know that you have to rehydrate it first. To do so, just add the TVP and seven ounces of warm water to a bowl and let it sit for about 5-7 minutes. During this time, the textured vegetable protein will soak up all the water and acquire a soft, chewy texture. Once it's rehydrated, you can prep it according to the recipe.
- Tip 1: If you plan to use TVP in a savory recipe, you could swap water for vegetable broth for an extra kick.
- Tip 2: If trying to find the perfect TVP-to-spice ratio doesn't sound like you, you could always reach out to us at Mother Earth Products. We have a wide variety of flavored TVPs, from TVP chicken bits to TVP sausage bits, that could satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
3 Textured Vegetable Protein Recipes to Get Started on “Faux Meat”
1. TVP Burger Patties
- 1 cup unflavored TVP
- ½ cup steel cut oats
- ½ cup cooked beans
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp passata
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ¼ tsp cumin
- 1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp dried garlic
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- Add half a cup of warm water to a bowl along with the TVP. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes or until it soaks up all the liquid.
- Add all the ingredients (except for the TVP) in a food processor and blend until you form a thick puree. You may need to scrape down the sides between pulses.
- Then, add the TVP and pulse the mixture once again. After a while, it'll look like ground beef.
- Preheat the oven to 350oF and form patties with the “faux meat.” Place them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until they're cooked through.
2. TVP Stuffed Peppers
- 4 large bell peppers, halved
- 1 ¼ cups cooked rice
- 1 ¾ cups tomatoes, diced
- 3 tbsp dried onions
- 1 cup TVP beef bits
- ½ tbsp dried garlic
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp tomato passata
- ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
- In a bowl, add 7 ounces of warm water and the TVP beef bits and hydrate for 5-7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and sautee the garlic and the onions. Then, add the rice, tomatoes, paprika, salt, passata, jalapeno pepper, and TVP beef bits, and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350oF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the halved bell peppers and fill each one with 1-2 tablespoons of the TVP mixture.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes or until the bell peppers are fork-tender.
- (Optional) A couple of minutes before your remove them from the oven, sprinkle each pepper with grated Parmesan cheese.
3. TVP Chicken Strips
- ½ cup TVP chicken bits
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ tsp dried garlic
- 2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Add the TVP and half a cup of warm water to a bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes or until its soaks up all the water.
- Mix the breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in another bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 375oF.
- Combine the flour with the TVP to make it firmer and sturdier.
- Then, shape it into strips and toss them inside the breading bowl. Make sure each piece is coated on all sides.
- Place the strips on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes.
- Serve them as part of a sandwich, inside a salad, or enjoy as is.
Have you ever tried textured vegetable protein? We'd love to hear your experience with TVP in the comments down below!