In an effort to reduce my meat/dairy intake, I’ve been trying to find alternatives for some of my favorite foods. While this is fairly easy to do if you’re willing to buy off-the-shelf items, it becomes a little more frustrating when you add budgeting and health into the mix. Buying vegan versions of meat and dairy items is not only extremely expensive, the foods are often full of preservatives and such. Not exactly a great trade-off in my opinion.
Problem is, a lot of the recipes I’ve found that don’t use meat/dairy substitutes are weird. I mean weird in the sense that, it’s not what I’m used to eating. I see recipes with names like “Mexican Millet” or “Jamaican Yuca Shepherd’s Pie” and want to run away screaming. I just want normal food. Is that so much to ask? I mean I like trying new things and all, but there’s a limit to what I can handle. I’ve read countless reviews on vegan cookbooks and websites but it just gets so overwhelming. So I decided I needed to start with what I know. I’m starting with the basics. Finding homemade, delicious replacements for my favorite, most frequently used ingredients.
Among the things I use the most is ground beef. It’s a staple in so many of my comfort foods. Granted, most comfort foods aren’t exactly healthy, but I think with this new veggie based substitute, they’ll be a little bit better.
A commonly used replacement for ground beef is TVP, or “Textured Vegetable Protein.” Sounds delicious, eh? I swear it’s better than it sounds. Basically it’s dried soy-based chunks. Or granules. Or whatever size/shape you decide to get. I got these because I figured they’d be closest to ground beef consistency. Now, you can buy beef flavored TVP, but I wanted something I could tailor to whatever recipe I was making. Plus, this way I can better control what’s in my food. Best part is, this stuff is super cheap. One cup of dry TVP is approximately equal to 1 pound of ground beef. Using those measurements, each pound of my ground “beef” would cost about $1. That’s right ONE DOLLAR for a pound of ground beef. Not a bad substitute, eh? Even if you are a beef eater, this is a great way to keep your grocery bill down and save your real meat budget for higher quality stuff that has more prominence in the meal, like a roast. No sense in spending $3 a pound or more for real ground beef when the flavor is just covered up by taco seasonings or hidden in a sauce. If cost wasn’t enough to convince you, TVP will keep without refrigeration making it perfect for camping or emergency food storage!
Now, I haven’t tried using this in any recipes where the ground beef is used in greater quantities such as meatloaf or meatballs, but I plan on giving that a shot soon and will keep you posted with any successful endeavors.
So, without further ado, here’s my fabulous recipe for ground “beef,” a delightful, even delicious replacement for the real thing. Enjoy!
- 1 cup TVP
- 1 cup water
- 3 to 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or Bragg’s liquid aminos)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- liquid smoke to taste, optional
Place TVP in a skillet with water and soy sauce. If any dry TVP remains, add just enough water to wet it. Cook over medium-low heat until the water is completely absorbed. Once water is absorbed, taste to make sure TVP is completely tender. If not, add a little water at a time until desired consistency is reached (about 10-15 minutes).
Add the oil, seasonings, liquid smoke & additional soy sauce to taste (if desired). Fry over medium-low heat until the chunks are firm and the mixture resembles ground beef. Stir occasionally to make sure that it cooks evenly and does not stick.
Adapted from Vegweb.com