Kitchen Experiment #5 – Italian Chili with TVP

Am I out of my mind?

My last post was about the potential harm soy can do to you – then I experiment with the stuff I just said was harmful?

What that makes me I’ll leave to you to decide, but the facts are the facts…you can reach your own conclusions.

THE EXPERIMENT: Anyway – at Whole Foods the other day I picked up a lb. of Textured Vegetable Protein in their bulk section. When they call it ‘vegetable’, they mean ‘soy’ – so why isn’t it called TSP?

Actually it is, but not usually. If you aren’t familiar with TVP, read the following about how it’s created – I’m sure your mouth will water.

TVP is made through a process known as “extrusion cooking”. A dough is formed from high PDI (Protein Dispersibility Index) defatted soy flour and water in a “preconditioner” (mixing cylinder) and cooked during passage through the barrel of a screw type extruder such as the Wenger. Sometimes steam from an external source is employed to aid in the cooking process.

Upon exiting the die, superheated steam escapes, rapidly producing an expanded, spongy yet fibrous lamination of thermoplastic soy flour which takes on the various shapes of the die as it is sliced into granules, flakes, chunks, goulash, steakettes (schnitzel), etc., by revolving knives, and then dried in an oven. Had the raw material been high in carbohydrates, extrusion cooking could have produced puffed corn curls or puffed wheat.

‘Spongy yet fibrous lamination of thermoplastic soy flour’ – boy – that sounds delicious – doesn’t it?

Anyway, as I’m sure you’re aching to try this, let me tell you what I did:

  • I took about 1-1/2 cups, put it in a frying pan, and covered with water.
  • Added a can of tomatoes
  • Added a can of olives
  • Added basil and oregano
  • Added some Tabasco sauce
  • Added some salt and pepper
  • Added some garlic powder
  • Added 4-5 dashes of Lea and Perrins steak sauce
  • Added some olive oil
  • Added a 1/4 cup of pasta sauce from a jar

Then stood back and let the thing cook – about 10 minutes. It didn’t resemble anything I’ve ever seen before – I called it ‘Italian Chili’ because the ingredients remotely suggest something like that.

After the 10 minutes, I put some on a plate, covered it with parm cheese and some ricotta on the side, stuck a spoon in and took a bite.

I thought it was pretty good, actually. TVP has no taste – it’s all about texture. After I finished my bowl, I went back for more.

A member of the Low Carb Confidential Taste Panel came home from work, looked at it and said: “Another recipe for your blog?” Despite her suspicion, she tried a small bit with rice – then went back two more times for more. I’d take that as it is edible.

THE AFTERMATH: We’re all adults here, right? Well, soon after consuming this, it became apparent that perhaps human beings are not supposed to be eating ‘Spongy yet fibrous lamination of thermoplastic soy flour’. I had eaten this stuff frequently before going low carb, so it’s been maybe 4 or 5 years since I last had it.

I had forgotten the havoc it can reek (and I am purposely using the word ‘reek’ instead of ‘wreak’) on one’s digestion.

I believe that the effect is caused by the inability to properly digest some of the components of TVP – similar to the effect beans can have on one’s digestive tract. Sulfurous gases are formed – and these, dear reader, can clear a room.

THE VERDICT: it’s a one pan meal that can be tossed together in 15 minutes, TVP is dirt cheap, low carb, high protein, and probably stores for nearly forever. I could see this as a ‘rescue meal’ – those nights where you need something quick and easy, no meat is defrosted, and you are hungry NOW.

It does need to be noted aftereffects can be troublesome for both yourself and especially loved ones. I would recommend experimenting with the use of Beano prior to trying this – and do not try this experiment prior to going to an event that will occur in an enclosed area.

Some childish part of me that enjoys pranks thinks that this would make a wonderful dish at a pot-luck dinner – the result would certainly be a conversation-starter – and filming the result with a camcorder could make a great YouTube video.

Perhaps it would even be appropriate as a dish brought to a repast – the get-together after a wake – especially if the deceased had a warped sense of humor.

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