Posts Tagged ‘tvp’

Frugal Food: TVP – zero fat “beef”

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Where’s the beef?  Many years ago, my favorite hairdresser turned me on to Texured Vegetable Protein (TVP).  She was a strict vegetarian who gave me a great recipe for meatless tacos.  She used TVP – a dehydrated product made from defatted soy flour – to replace the ground beef.

When I tried it, I actually added the TVP to my ground beef mixture nearly doubling the recipe and LOVED it.  Here’s why I’m so passionate about TVP:

1 ) It’s healthy.  TVP has 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 2 mg sodium, 4g fiber, 3g sugar, and 12g or protein per 1/4 Cup dry serving.  It also contains 15% of your daily iron and 8% of your daily calcium.  When using it as a ground beef extender we always add 1 Cup dry TVP to 1 lb of ground beef.

2 ) It’s cost effective.  TVP can be bought in bulk from a store like Whole Foods for $1.99/lb.   In comparison, 1 lb of 93% lean ground beef sells for $3.49/lb at our local Food Lion – and that’s on sale.  Per ounce, TVP costs approx. 13 cents and the aforementioned ground beef costs 22 cents per ounce.

But how does that savings work out for cooking?  Well, 1 Cup of dry TVP weighs approx. 2.75 ounces.  At  13 cents an ounce, 1 Cup of TVP costs about 36 cents.  To equal the volume of 1 lb of cooked ground beef, which is approx. 3 Cups, you need 1 and 1/2 Cups of dry TVP.  That comes out to a grand total of 54 cents.  Meanwhile, the 3 Cups of cooked ground beef still cost you $3.49.  That’s a $2.95 savings.

3 ) It’s convenient.  TVP is a dehydrated soy product and can be stored on your shelf.  It takes a few minutes to rehydrate after boiling liquid is added and you are ready to use it.  There is no freezer storage and thawing, no bloody mess, and no greasy cooking.  We actually cook up large batches of a ground beef/TVP blend, portion it out into freezer bags, and freeze for future meals.  It’s easy to thaw and add to recipes (like tacos) on a busy night.

4 ) It doesn’t taste too bad either.  The plain TVP has what I would call a slight soy flavor, but I think I’ve been biased since I know it is a soy product.  In either case, it has a mild flavor.  I actually munch on it dry or rehydrated sometimes.  The beauty of the product is that it absorbs the flavor of whatever food it is mixed with similar to tofu.  I recently started dissolving beef bouillon cubes in the water used to rehydrate the TVP and WOW!!!  It tastes great!  My son actually prefers the bouilloned TVP over real ground beef.

This  is the dry TVP with a regular ibuprofen tablet for size comparison.

We use TVP primarily as a ground beef extender for tacos, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, hamburger helper, casseroles, chili, etc… We also use it to add protein and texture to soups and stews.  Why haven’t we swapped out the beef completely?  Well, to put it plainly, my husband is a carnivore of the beefiest kind.  He would literally yell, “Where’s the beef?” and leave the table.  Currently, I add 1 Cup of dry TVP to 1 lb of ground beef.  That is the cooked equivalent of 2 Cups of TVP to 3 Cups of ground beef.  Since I’ve been using beef bouillon to rehydrate the TVP, I’ve been increasing the TVP portions so now we are 3 Cups of TVP to 3 Cups of ground beef.  For us, it’s a good balance between cost-savings, health benefits, and flavor. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how we use TVP to extend our ground beef.

1) Measure out 1 Cup of dry TVP into a bowl.  Add 7/8 Cup of boiling liquid (water, broth, bouillon, etc…) to the bowl.

2 ) Stir well with a fork and let set for 3 – 5 minutes to rehydrate.

1 Cup of dry TVP yields approx. 2 Cups of rehydrated TVP.

3 ) Brown 1 lb of ground beef.  1 lb of ground beef yields approx. 3 Cups of cooked beef.

4 ) Mix the two together.

Either use the mixture in current recipe or freeze for future use.  We normally cook up 3 – 5 lbs of ground beef when it goes on sale.  We rehydrate 1 Cup of TVP per 1 lb of beef, mix it all up and then portion it out in freezer bags.

When I want to use it, I either pop a bag in the fridge overnight, pop a bag in warm water for an hour, or nuke it in the microwave for 4 minutes at 50% to thaw.  Either way, making spaghetti sauce, tacos, etc… during the week has never been easier.

If you would like to try TVP you can probably find it at your grocery store.  Ask the people for help as it can be stored anywhere they decide to shelve healthy/vegetarian foods.  The most popular brand by the bag is Bob’s Red Mill TVP.  It comes in a 3 lb bag and costs more per pound than buying in bulk, but is a good trial size.  I cut out the back of my first package and affixed it to my bulk container so I would have the directions and nutritional info handy.  For buying in bulk, I go to Whole Foods.  They have it in the aisle with all the bins of loose grains, beans, granola, etc… I scoop out a huge bagful and it will last us months.

If you give it a try, leave a comment and let me know how you like it!

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