This one's for trublubyu. She asked me to tell about TVP. I must say here that I am far from being an expert. TVP stands for Texturized Vegetable Protein and is made from soy beans after they extract the oil. It is a product that I grew up on, that's how I know about it. I haven't really done any research beyond that. My mom used it as a way to save money and that's why I started using it as well. I have since learned to appreciate it for the dietary pluses. You can use it alone or mix it with other meats. I prefer to mix it about half and half. (There is a joke in our family that my mom would get the TVP ready and start cooking dinner. She'd get the froxen hamburger out of the freezer, wave it over the top of the pan, and put it back in the freezer. We'd have TVP and essence of beef. Just a joke, but we chuckle about it.) Since I mix it half and half with my hamburger or ground turkey, I get the same amount of "fill" in a dish, but half of the fat. Also, I've been told that soy helps lower cholesterol. Even if it doesn't, the lower fat intake is great for lowering cholesterol.
You can get TVP in several flavors and forms. I prefer to use unflavored flakes, but will also use the more granular form also. It's very good about taking on the flavors it is cooked with. I use about 1/2 cup to equal 1/2 pound of hamburger or ground turkey. If I have a recipe that calls for only 1/2 pound of ground something, I just use the meat and don't bother trying to use half TVP. If I need 1-1/2 pounds of meat, I use 1 pound meat and 1/2 cup TVP. I put it in a bowl and add just enough warm water to get it wet all over and then let it sit for a couple of minutes. You can supposedly add it dry to whatever meat you are cooking, but I HATE biting into something and finding a little crunchy something I wasn't expecting. Soaking it a bit beforehand prevents those unexpected surprises. Then I just add it to whatever meat I'm browning. It absorbs the rest of the juices so I don't have to drain the meat and then it tastes like the meat. (I use meat that is at least 90% lean. 93% if I can find it.) I only use it in casseroles, soups, or sauces- things it can blend in with other textures, or soften fairly well. I do not use TVP on its own (no TVP burgers, for instance, Blech!), nor do I like it mixed in with tuna. I have a memory of eating a tuna sandwich with little crunchies (other than relish) in it as a child and I just can't bring myself to try it again. Maybe someday.
Where to find it? That's usually my problem. I used to get it at the LDS canneries, but they stoped carrying it several years ago. Some grocery stores carry small packages (about 10 oz.), but it's kind of expensive. I think most health food store would carry it. I've heard there is a frozen product that is similar, but I've never tried it. I've also seen soy protein powder, but I don't know how you'd use that. Maybe in a drink? Some Sprouts in AZ carry it and some do not. You'd have to ask. As I mentioned, Sunflower Farmers Market near me just started carrying the more granular form. It cost $1.99/pound. I just bought 1-1/2 pounds and it comes to probably 3-4 cups in a pound. If I only use 1/2 cup for every 1/2 pound of hamburger, it comes out to about $0.25- $0.33 (where's that cents sign!) per 1/2 pound equivalent. That's a bit cheaper than hamburger and is better for you!
Not everyone likes it, and that's fine. I was worried about my kiddos liking it, but no one has ever said a word. I've been out of it for the past month or so and could only slightly tell a difference. Mostly, my food felt heavier in my stomach from the added meat, but that's it as far as I could tell. The amount of meat I used when I didn't have any TVP got to me more than anything else. I like being able to buy the big pack of ground beef at Sam's or Costco and have it last a couple of months. We went through it twice as fast without the TVP. I kept hearing little cash register dings in my head everytime I got out 2 packages of meat instead of 1. (Yes, I am basically cheap!)
Ok, that's about it. I hope I covered everything. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.