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Soy or other ground beef substitute?

EWSflash Jan 1, 2014 05:57 PM

The cafeteria at work sometimes serves a vegetarian chili that I found to be really good (imagine my surprise). I know I can recreate it, but there's a ground-meat-like substance in there that lends a nice texture, and I don't recall ever having seen a ground soy or other "ground meat substitute" product at the grocery store. Have I just been missing it?
I guess I could process up some extra-firm tofu, but I know damn well they didn't do that at work, they don't make anything from scratch any more.

  1. p
    powella Mar 24, 2014 02:20 PM

    Quorn makes my favorite ground beef substitute. It is a mycoprotein (mushroom-like), and a perfect meat sub in chili or other highly spiced dishes. It is in the frozen section of my hippie-granola stores :) I can't eat soy and have never seen the seitan ground product, so this is my go-to.

    3 Replies
    1. re: powella
      Ttrockwood Mar 24, 2014 04:03 PM

      I LOVE the meatless balls that Quorn makes! I've been buying them since TJs meatless balls are still being "reformulated" and they really have a great texture and flavor, no fakey weird crap ingredients and a bizarre ton of protein. The only downside is they are pricey at my store so i keep my eyes out for sales and stock up.

      1. re: Ttrockwood
        MplsM ary Mar 24, 2014 04:58 PM

        I wish I could eat them. I snapped up Quorn when it first came to our market. Sadly I am allergic. Don't know how or why.

        It's my only food allergy (and I know how lucky that makes me!) and it's a serious and instantaneous reaction. I know I'm lucky but I wish I could eat it.

        1. re: MplsM ary
          gourmanda Mar 25, 2014 08:25 AM

          Well, according to this you are not alone.


    2. Tripeler Mar 3, 2014 01:11 AM

      Several times I have made vegetarian chili using minced black olives, and it often fools meat eaters into thinking it is ground beef. Tastes pretty good, too.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Tripeler
        MplsM ary Mar 3, 2014 10:37 AM

        Do you brown them before adding to the chili? I'm intrigued.

        1. re: MplsM ary
          Tripeler Mar 3, 2014 05:52 PM

          I sauté them just a little bit before adding to the chill.
          But whatever you do, DON'T add salt. Plenty of it in the olives, but in moderate amounts it doesn't taste overly salty.

        2. re: Tripeler
          Ttrockwood Mar 3, 2014 05:50 PM

          That's got to be a hell of a lot of olives in there.......!

        3. weinstein5 Feb 27, 2014 07:08 PM

          Upton Naturals makes an excellent ground beef substitute made out of Seitan - http://www.uptonsnaturals.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: weinstein5
            MplsM ary Mar 3, 2014 12:56 AM

            You can also make your own by putting cubes of seitan in a food processor. I start with Seitan O Greatness. Here is the original recipe transferred from the old Post Punk Kitchen forums: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe... I use different spices - sage and fennel instead of cinnamon and allspice. Sometimes a lot of chili powder. Depends on how I want to use the seitan.

            After you've made the seitan and cooled it in the fridge it's ready for the food processor. I also throw in some onion and garlic to make it a little more flavorful when pan frying for a recipe.

            This is less than half the cost of prepackaged seitan. You can decide the flavor depending on your needs.

          2. mrsleny Feb 27, 2014 06:57 PM

            If you want to stay away from soy products, try using lentils. They give a great texture when mashed up a bit. I often use it to make vegan bolognese.

            1. w
              will47 Feb 27, 2014 06:26 PM

              TVP as others have said, but I would try the things out there that don't use processed soy - some good options which are based on seitan and / or actual tofu. The Upton one mentioned is not bad, and there's a new European brand that Whole Foods sells that seems promising as well.

              Frozen tofu, as mentioned above, also has a great texture in stews, though not as literal as some of the other options.

              1. weinstein5 Jan 3, 2014 08:42 AM

                my favorite is from Upton Naturals - http://www.uptonsnaturals.com/ a seitan based ground beef/sausage substitute

                2 Replies
                1. re: weinstein5
                  ninrn Jan 3, 2014 08:20 PM

                  I forgot about Upton Naturals! If you can handle gluten well, EWSflash, this is probably the most healthy of the fake meats. It's not TVP at all, just ground up seitan, -- no sugar, no GMO's, no weird starchy fillers. Not as convincing as the junkier ones, but can hold its own in a chili. I think they make a really good seitan chorizo, too.

                  1. re: ninrn
                    relizabeth Mar 3, 2014 05:49 PM

                    I eat meat but my husband doesnt and we are both very happy with Upton's. Their chorizo is a frequent taco filling in our house.

                2. n
                  ninrn Jan 2, 2014 12:17 PM

                  My favorite fake/TVP ground beef is Smart Ground by Light Life. They have it in a lot of regular supermarkets as well as at health food stores, and they sell a bulk version to restaurants and cafeterias. In a highly flavored dish, it's almost impossible to tell it's not ground beef.

                  Vegetarian or not, TVP is basically a junk food though. It's full of processed corn, soy and sugar, and the "texturizing" of the proteins makes them almost impossible to break down in your digestive tract, so you can't really call it a protein source. If you want something that's less processed, crumbled marinated tempeh comes closer to the texture of ground meat than tofu.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ninrn
                    Science Chick Jan 2, 2014 04:39 PM

                    +1 for Smart Ground….but I guess I have to agree about the vegan "junk food" thing. I just made a chili without it for the first time, and it was actually better than with the TVP!!! There is a slightly discernible aftertaste to the product,even when masked with the potent chili flavors.

                    1. re: ninrn
                      magiesmom Jan 3, 2014 07:40 AM

                      if tofu is frozen it is much "meatier" than if not. TVP really is just junk

                      1. re: ninrn
                        calumin Jan 3, 2014 04:21 PM

                        I've made chili with the GimmeLean beef product (in a tube) from Light Life many times. I can't really taste the difference between GimmeLean chili and turkey chili.

                        There is no processed corn or sugar in GimmeLean.

                      2. Ttrockwood Jan 1, 2014 08:56 PM

                        I agree with others, most likely its tvp.
                        The tvp will absorb the flavors of the chili very well and has a very "meaty" chew.

                        1. greygarious Jan 1, 2014 07:46 PM

                          Probably TVP but possibly seitan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat_gl...

                          1. a
                            Anarie Jan 1, 2014 07:33 PM

                            The cafeteria almost certainly uses TVP. It's so inexpensive that many institutional kitchens use it in place of ground meat even in non-vegetarian dishes. But for home cooking, I would recommend the Morningstar or Boca-burger frozen crumbles. I'm not a vegetarian, but I like those better than ground beef in a lot of dishes.

                            1. w
                              whitewater Jan 1, 2014 07:12 PM

                              Trader Joe's also sells a house brand ground beef substitute, as does Lightlife.

                              1. j
                                jlhinwa Jan 1, 2014 07:10 PM

                                Morningstar has a nice product that mimics ground beef quite nicely. It is Veggie Crumbles and can be found in the frozen food section at many grocers. It cooks up like ground beef, absorbing the flavors of the dish it is used in (ie, spaghetti sauce, taco or enchilada sauce, etc.), and doesn't lose volume due to fat. I have served it to many an unsuspecting carnivore. :-)

                                1. 4
                                  4Snisl Jan 1, 2014 07:08 PM

                                  Might be TVP? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textured...

                                  1. jw615 Jan 1, 2014 07:03 PM

                                    I'm guessing that you're looking for TVP (textured vegetable protein.) It's a soy based ground beef substitute. You can sometimes buy it dehydrated in bulk at health food stores, and you can also usually find it in the frozen section with the Morningstar Farms veggie burgers and the like - typically labelled soy crumbles or something similar.

                                    1. d
                                      Danybear Jan 1, 2014 07:01 PM

                                      Look for TVP (texturized vegetable protein) preferably in a bulk store. Come sin all shapes and sizes: ground beef like, bigger nuggets for stew likeness, etc. A byproduct of making soy milk.
                                      You need to hydrate it to meat like consistency when using it.

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