For the Love of TVP

tvpA long, long time ago, for a recipe far, far away, I searched high and low for an elusive ingredient: TVP. Having just begun my frugal journey, I had heard about this awesome vegetarian substitute for meat. It provided the protein and taste of meat, and yet it was much, much cheaper. It sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, none of the stores in my neck of the woods knew anything about it. I became disheartened, thinking that my burgeoning love affair with TVP would meet an end before it had even begun.

And then I asked about it in our local health food store. They directed me to the dry goods aisle, where I found a bin full of what appeared to be dry cereal. I purchased a small quantity, hoping that it would allow me to make frugal, protein-filled meals for my family.

My relationship with TVP grew but also met some bumpy spots. Here are some things that I discovered as I substituted TVP in my recipes:

  • Using TVP is quite simple. As I said, it appears to be a dry cereal, and so you will need to soak the TVP in hot water to reconstitute it before you add it to something like a meatloaf. It is perfect to use in soups, though, as the process of cooking the soup will give the TVP time to plump up.
  • Plain TVP can be flavored by using sauces or condiments. However, I have found that getting it to take on and keep that flavor can be difficult. Despite my use of spices and flavorings, everything still turned out bland.
  • Although I thought that the granola recipes using TVP would be great, they weren’t. My family couldn’t stomach the granola no matter how sweet it was. I decided to stick with oat-based recipes from then on.

Although my impression of TVP was a bit mixed at that point, I still continued to use it. Then something happened that would forever change my relationship with TVP. I found flavored TVP online. It was a gamechanger. This TVP was much easier to use and required no addition of spices or condiments. Too, it helped me to create tastier meals for my family.

Whether you add TVP to meat to extend its use or make a recipe all vegetarian, TVP can be a useful ingredient to have on hand in your pantry. It is a frugal way to add protein to your family’s meals, and it can be stored easily in its dried form. Maybe you too will find a love of TVP!

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