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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.

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  1. d
    Danybear Jan 1, 2014 06:01 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.

    1. jw615 Jan 1, 2014 06:03 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. 4
        4Snisl Jan 1, 2014 06:08 PM

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

        1. j
          jlhinwa Jan 1, 2014 06:10 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. w
            whitewater Jan 1, 2014 06:12 PM

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

            1. a
              Anarie Jan 1, 2014 06:33 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. greygarious Jan 1, 2014 06:46 PM

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

                1. Ttrockwood Jan 1, 2014 07:56 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. n
                    ninrn Jan 2, 2014 11:17 AM

                    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 03:39 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 06:40 AM

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

                        1. re: ninrn
                          calumin Jan 3, 2014 03:21 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. weinstein5 Jan 3, 2014 07:42 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 07:20 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 04:49 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. w
                            will47 Feb 27, 2014 05:26 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. mrsleny Feb 27, 2014 05:57 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. weinstein5 Feb 27, 2014 06:08 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 2, 2014 11:56 PM

                                  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. Tripeler Mar 3, 2014 12:11 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 09:37 AM

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

                                    1. re: MplsM ary
                                      Tripeler Mar 3, 2014 04:52 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 04:50 PM

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

                                    3. 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.

                                      5 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.


                                            1. re: gourmanda
                                              powella Apr 18, 2014 04:19 PM

                                              Wow, that is good to know, gourmanda. Sorry, MpisM ary. I became soy intolerant after pregnancy so I feel your pain. I don't eat a lot of Quorn (1-2 x per month at most) but I'm so glad it's out there. It is rather disturbing to read how highly processed it is, though.

                                              1. re: powella
                                                Ttrockwood Apr 18, 2014 07:11 PM

                                                Do you ever buy field roast products? Although it is of course processed its really delicious and soy free vegan. The sausages sometimes go on sale at my market too

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