Following a plant-based diet is anything but boring. In fact, if you recently transitioned to plant-based, chances are you're trying more foods (and recipes) than ever before. Knowing what foods to substitute in to create your favorite meals might seem challenging at first. However, once you figure out a few meat alternatives that you genuinely enjoy, making vegan and vegetarian versions of your favorite dishes becomes easy.
Choosing a meat substitute that satisfies your nutritional needs and flavor preferences is key to creating a recipe that you love. Instead of filling your plates with a meat substitute overflowing with artificial ingredients and preservatives, we recommend sticking to a more wholesome choice like textured soy protein. If you have ever wondered, “How is textured vegetable protein made?” you have come to the right place. Keep scrolling as the Bob's Red Mill food experts walk you through how textured soy protein is made and the many different ways you can use it.
What Is Textured Soy Protein?
As one of the first commercially available meat replacements for vegans and vegetarians, textured soy protein is made from a defatted soy flour mixture processed into various shaped pieces and then dehydrated. Dehydrated textured soy protein's long shelf life and versatility have made it a favorite amongst plant-based cooks. To cook with textured protein, it has to be rehydrated and used as a meat replacement in many dishes.
TVP or TSP?
Textured vegetable protein is a meat substitute known by many names. Commonly referred to by its initials, TVP, is also called by other names, including textured soy protein, soya chunks and soy meat—and you'll often find it listed on food labels under all of these names. Because soy is a high-allergen food, in the U.S., all food products that contain it, including textured vegetable protein, must state that they contain soy.
How Is Textured Soy Protein Made?
Now, we mentioned that TVP is made from soy, but how is textured soy protein made? TVP is a food product produced by separating soy protein from the other elements found in soybeans. After separation, while the soy paste is still hot, it's compressed into various shapes such as flakes, chunks, nuggets and strips. Once it cools, the textured vegetable protein is dehydrated. To use it in recipes, it must be rehydrated before cooking.
What Is Textured Soy Protein Found In?
If you've been following a vegetarian diet for some time now, you've likely tried textured soy protein before. By itself, textured vegetable protein has a bland flavor, and while it can be enjoyed as is, its light flavor makes it easy to add to diverse cuisines. A common ingredient found in veggie burgers, hot dogs and many other vegetarian meat substitutes, TVP can be mixed with many ingredients and flavorings to imitate the meat products you're used to eating.
Even if you're not entirely plant-based, it's not unusual to find textured soy protein in dishes that contain meat. With a texture so close to meat, it's often added to meals like pasta as a meat extender making it appear as if the dish has more than it does.
Nutritional Information: Textured Soy Protein
Textured vegetable protein is a highly nutritious soy product. Loaded with protein and low in fat, TVP makes an excellent alternative to meat. Aside from being a vegetarian meat alternative, textured vegetable protein is also safe for those with celiac disease to enjoy as it's naturally gluten free. Our textured vegetable protein is packaged in our separate, dedicated gluten free facility at Bob's Red Mill and routinely tested for cross-contamination using R5 ELISA testing protocol to ensure its gluten free status.
While TVP may not add much flavor to your recipes, it will boost the nutritional value. Low in fat and calories, textured soy protein is an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Because soy contains all of the amino acids which the human body cannot synthesize, it's a complete protein essential to human nutrition.
How to Use Textured Soy Protein
Aside from being a common ingredient in commercially produced vegetarian meat products, textured vegetable protein is also used as a meat extender in protein patties, meatloaf, stews and soups. Additionally, it can be worked into health bars, salads, cereals, baked potatoes and stuffing as a protein additive.
For a simple way to work textured vegetable protein into your meals, use it anywhere you would use ground beef or turkey—just make sure you rehydrate it first.
Easy to prepare, TVP takes on the flavor of whatever recipe it's added to, making it an incredibly versatile addition to a wide variety of dishes and cuisine. Incorporating textured vegetable protein into your favorite recipes is a delicious and simple way to reap all of the benefits of soy.
How to Rehydrate Textured Soy Protein
To rehydrate textured vegetable protein, combine it with hot water and let it sit until the dried vegetable protein has soaked up all the liquid. Once it's rehydrated, season and cook your faux meat for delicious results. Because that taste of textured soy protein is easy to manipulate if you want to use it to make taco meat, season it with whatever you'd typically use. Once you add a tortilla and fillings like onion, tomatoes and cilantro, it's sure to be one of the most delicious tacos plates you've made!
Other Meat Alternatives
While textured soy protein is a favorite meat alternative, it's not for everyone. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based meat alternatives to choose from, a few of the most popular being tempeh, seitan, and tofu. Here's a rundown of each:
Don’t know what tempeh is made of? Our experts are here to explain. Made by fermenting soybeans in banana leaves, tempeh is a popular meat substitute that's been around since the 12th century. Its pleasant texture, mild nutty flavor, and high protein content make it a favorite amongst vegetarians and vegans.
Like tempeh, seitan has been around for a while, since the sixth century to be exact. A standard ingredient in Asian cuisine, over the years, seitan has grown in popularity and can now be found in most health food stores. Used in various vegetarian/vegan recipes, seitan has more recently been incorporated into mock meat products like crumbles, deli slices and sausages.
Tofu is yet another soy-derived meat alternative that has been deemed a superfood by the plant-based community. To make the different types of tofu, mature soybeans are pressed, turned into soybean milk, and then combined with a coagulant like magnesium chloride before being pressed into a cheese-like block. Whether you choose to order tofu at a restaurant or prepare it yourself at home, it's an excellent meat alternative that can be worked into recipes ranging from stew to stir fry.
Textured Soy Protein Recipes
Are you craving a delicious burger recipe sans the meat? Start by making these tasty, Textured Vegetable Protein Burgers. Hearty and delicious, these burgers can be combined with just about any topping to create the ideal backyard bbq dish. Grill them up and enjoy them as a weeknight meal, or save this recipe for your next gathering and impress everyone who tries it. Care to get creative? We recommend adding fun toppings like sauteed peppers, bacon, barbeque sauce and caramelized onions.
Create an entree large enough for everyone to enjoy and make this Textured Vegetable Protein Lasagna. A staple for your next vegan or vegetarian feast, this lasagna uses textured vegetable protein as a replacement for ground meat creating a meal full of flavor and nutrition. It's a dish loved by plant-based individuals and meat-eaters alike and sure to be a hit amongst guests of all ages.
Get creative in the kitchen and trade in your traditional sloppy joe recipe for this vegan version. By making these textured vegetable protein sloppy joes, you can satisfy everyone's lunch-time cravings without the ground meat. Ideal for serving a large party, this recipe makes eight sloppy joe burgers.
Make everyone's favorite delicious and meaty breakfast without the meat! This fun and flavorful recipe for Vegetarian Sausage Crumbles, it's the perfect way to incorporate all of your favorite flavors into one dish. Slightly sweet with a touch of spice, this substitute for breakfast sausage allows you to recreate all of the mouthwatering flavors that make a potato and veggie skillet a lively start to the day. Ideal for omelets, breakfast tacos or an egg scramble, you can also enjoy these sausage crumbles as we do in a skillet loaded with homestyle potatoes, diced onions, green peppers and salsa.
Now that you have a better idea of what textured vegetable protein is and how to cook with it, we're excited to see the many recipes you prepare. From meaty egg scrambles to sloppy joe sandwiches, the many vegetarian dishes you can create with textured vegetable protein are endless. We wish you a happy, hearty and healthy day from everyone at Bob's Red Mill!
Love adding textured soy protein to your recipes? Let us know how you use this plant-based meat alternative in the comments below. We can't wait to hear from you!