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Chik Patties and TVP

Mmmmm…. Chik Patties and TVP.  If you’re like me, you probably had never heard of these two co-op delicacies until you moved into your first co-op house.  These two items are only two of a sea of faux-meat alternative protein sources that many co-opers embrace and enjoy on a regular basis, be they vegetarians, vegans, or meat-eaters. 

Amongst the plethora of alternative protein sources that CK offers, Chik Patties and TVP represent two sides of the same coin: less healthy but tasty and fast (Chik patties) and high nutritional value but difficult to prepare and less tasty.  Many factors determine whether or not an alternative protein source, just like their meat counterparts, is actually beneficial to your health.  Just because its made out of soy and vegetable instead of beef or pork does not automatically qualify a food item as “healthy.”  Vegetable products can be deep-fried, contain high amounts of sodium, and be completely removed from anything resembling what nature intended all in the sake convincing the consumer’s taste buds that “Hey, this tastes a lot like those chicken nuggets I used to get at McDonald’s!” 

Furthermore, faux meat products such as GardenBurgers, Chik’n Nuggets, and soyrizo are pricey enough that regularly ordering a wide variety of them along with the other frozen foods could break your budget if you don’t keep a tight watch on it. 

Therefore, I have found that the best way to handle the situation is to treat these products (along with their real meat counterparts) as luxury items that you may have two or three of in stock fairly regularly.  Clearly, cooks should strongly discouraged from using a case of black bean burgers as the vegan entrée option and instead steered towards the actual black beans, lentils, or other legumes complemented by a grain or other protein-containing complex carbohydrate. 

Then there’s TVP.  There’s no way this stuff is naturally occurring anywhere in the known universe.  So what makes it different from most of the other processed alternative protein sources?  TVP, or texturized vegetable protein, is defatted and dehydrated soy flour or protein.  TVP is not only high in protein, but also in fiber and isoflavones (a type of antioxidant) and low in fat and sodium. 

Finally, not only is TVP nutritionally beneficial, but it’s also inexpensive!  Way cheaper than any kind of meat or faux-meat, TVP supplies eaters of all styles with an excellent protein to fat ratio building block to create dishes around.  And creativity is key when cooking TVP.  After all, what do you think defatted, dehydrated soy flour tastes like?   Yup, you got it…. Nothing.  Using soy sauce, vegetable broth, worcestershire sauce, liquid aminos, or other flavorful liquids and lots of herbs and spices when rehydrating TVP is where you can fine tune the art of cooking with TVP.