TVP for MVP (Most Valuable Protein)!

Tofu and beans. Beans and tofu. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan—or simply trying to eat less meat—you may feel like you’re in a protein rut. Let’s face it…quality protein sources for people who are trying to avoid meat can feel limited. That’s why I like textured vegetable protein (TVP), which is also sometimes referred to as textured soy protein. TVP provides some variety in a bean and tofu-filled world!

Textured vegetable protein. Photo by arievergreen / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What is TVP?

TVP is defatted soy bean flour, a byproduct of extracting soy bean oil. On its own, TVP has a bland, slightly bean-like flavor, but it will soak up flavors from the ingredients with which it’s prepared. When cooked, it has a meat-like texture, making it an excellent substitute for ground meat or a great protein-boosting addition to ground meat.

What are the health benefits of TVP?

Since it contains all nine of the essential amino acids we must obtain from food, TVP is a complete protein. It contains no fat, cholesterol, or saturated fat. It’s low in calories but filling, so you don’t need to consume a lot to feel full. TVP is also high in fiber, making it a heart-healthy food.

Where can I find TVP?

You can find TVP in the dried goods section of most grocery stores. It often comes in a lightweight bag (the most common brand is Bob’s Red Mill) and looks like little tan nuggets.

How to cook with TVP

There are a ton of ways to prepare TVP, but it all starts with rehydrating. I use 1 cup of TVP to 7/8 cup of liquid (such as water or broth). Simply bring a pot of liquid to a boil, add the TVP, turn off the heat, and cover for 10 minutes.  

Personally, when I go on a camping trip with a lot of hiking involved, I take a cup of TVP and mix it with instant oatmeal for a more filling, high-protein breakfast. TVP is so lightweight and easy to cook that it makes great camping food that will give you energy for the rest of the day.

We recently prepared this TVP meatloaf for our vegetarian clients. I hope you enjoy it! 

TVP Meatloaf
by Kevin Giles
Serves 8-12

  • 3 cups textured vegetable protein granules
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or rice flour)
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Kitchen Bouquet (optional)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a saucepan, bring low sodium broth to a boil. Mix TVP into broth and let it sit till liquid has been absorbed and TVP looks light and fluffy.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms. Saute vegetables until soft, then remove from heat and let cool.

Once cooled, mix in eggs, flour, and seasonings. The Kitchen Bouquet, a browning and seasoning sauce, is optional and will provide a more meat-like appearance.

Generously spray a loaf pan (9×5-inch works best) with cooking spray. Add the meatloaf mixture, making sure to pack it so it fills evenly and flat. Top with ketchup and bake for 40 minutes.

Kevin Giles 150x150

Kevin Giles is Project Angel Heart’s modified meals assistant. Kevin grew up in Dallas, Texas, where he spent most of his time working in kitchens and attending a technical high school that taught culinary arts. In 2011, Kevin made the move to Denver to attend Johnson & Wales, and graduated with his degree in culinary nutrition in 2015. Kevin enjoys spending time snuggling with his two cats and going to the gym.