Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is a low-fat meat substitute. Developed by Arthur Daniels Midland Company in the 1970s, TVP is used in Third World countries as a complete protein source and in many institutions as a meat extender. TVP, unless pre-flavored, takes on the flavor of the foods it is cooked with. TVP can usually be found in most health food stores and is sold in bulk or in 1 lb. packages.
TVP is just one of several different types of vegetable protein on the market today. Other forms include wheat glutens, which can range in type from flours to meat substitute chunks. TVP is inexpensive and in many parts of the world, costs far less than beef or chicken. TVP has a long shelf life and is often used in dehydrated camping meals and military meals ready to eat (MREs).
TVP serves as a substitute for meat products or as a meat extender. For many vegans and vegetarians, TVP is a staple on the pantry shelf as it can be used for everything from chili to hamburgers. It is also used by institutions and schools in meals.
TVP is available in flakes, crumbles or chunks. It can be unflavored or is available in a wide variety of flavors including beef, chicken, ham and bacon. TVP can be cooked alone, as the meat part of chilis, soups and stews or added to ground meat to stretch the number of servings available.
All TVP has to be reconstituted before use. TVP flakes and crumbles can be reconstituted easily in sauces or soups or by adding 1 cup of hot water to 1 cup of flakes or crumbles and letting the mixture sit for five to 10 minutes. Chunks are best reconstituted using water or vegetable broth in a skillet over medium heat. TVP chunks can be reconstituted days in advance and kept in the refrigerator until needed.
TVP has zero cholesterol and is most often fortified with vitamins including B12. It is considered an excellent source of fiber and protein, while being low in sodium and fat. For every 1/4 cup of crumbles, TVP contains 59 calories, 11g protein, 7g carbohydrates and only 2g fat. TVP is high in calcium, magnesium and essential amino acids.