Saturday, November 3, 2007

Vegan Comfort Food: Messy Janes

Ah, the wonders of the vegan kitchen. Whether you do it for economical, health or moral reasons, vegan cooking is one of those worlds that opens up a million different doors for the home cook once you get the hang of it. I myself tend to eat a basically vegan diet because that's all my stomach can handle (with the exception of small amounts of lean fish and seafood, I'm a pescetarian by definition), and recently Andrew has expressed interest in following me down that path. It's wonderful to have another person beside me in the same eating realm, the support and kitchen help is always appreciated in any case!

One of the cheaper staples of my diet is Textured Vegetable Protein (AKA TVP). For those of you who don't usually have this term in your cooking dictionaries (as I didn't until I got sick), TVP is a high-fiber, high-protein meat substitute made from soy flour and available in a variety of flavored and unflavored varieties, as well as different sizes, from large chunks to small flakes. Using textured vegetable protein, one can make vegetarian or vegan versions of traditionally meat-based dishes such as chili, sloppy joes, tacos or burgers. Textured vegetable protein can be found in natural food stores and larger supermarkets, usually in the bulk section (Bob's Red Mill also makes a version). TVP is also very lightweight, and is often used in backpacking recipes (About.com).

TVP is also great if you're on a diet, since it is fat free and low in calories compared to ground beef or even turkey! 1/4 cup dry TVP (equal to 1/4 lb raw ground meat when rehydrated) has 80 calories and 4 grams of fibre in it, without a trace of cholesterol, whereas the same measure of 90% lean ground beef has 200 calories, 11.3 g of fat, 73 mg of cholesterol and zippo fibre. Even 99% lean ground turkey breast (while an excellent addition to any menu, and a delicious one!) loses out in the calorie / fat war to TVP, with 120 calories, 1 g of fat and 70 mg of cholesterol without any fibre in 1/4 lb raw meat.

That said, these "Messy Janes" are not lacking in flavour at all, in fact they soak up all the delicious flavour and lock it in, making these some delicious sandwiches! I've provided a nutritional breakdown after the recipe, and some TVP guidelines too if you want them! Even if you can't part with meat for a day, replace the TVP and hot stock with 1 lb of the ground meat of your choice, brown it in the pan before adding the onions, and the taste is still there. It's a great, quick and cheap meal you can throw together on a weeknight (start-finish this took me about 20 minutes) when everything else is just too busy for words!

Messy Janes
Serves 6
1 ½ cups dry TVP granules
1 cup hot vegetable broth or water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup diet cola
2/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons mustard

  1. Place dry TVP in a bowl, pour hot liquid over and let stand 10 minutes.
  2. Cook onion in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Stir in re-hydrated TVP and remaining ingredients, blending well.
  4. Cover and cook 10 minutes.
  5. Uncover and stir, reduce sauce if necessary. Serve immediately.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 127
Total Fat: .5g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 302mg
Total Carbohydrates: 17.7g
Dietary Fiber: 4.7g
Sugars: 9.6g
Protein: 13g

Tofu Tip!
General TVP : Ground Beef ratios
3/4 cup dry TVP plus 2/3 cup liquid = 1 cup reconstituted tvp = 1/2 lb ground meat / frozen tofu
1 1/2 cups dry TVP plus 1 1/3 cups liquid = 2 cups reconstituted tvp = 1 lb ground meat / frozen tofu
2 1/4 cups dry TVP plus 2 cups liquid = 3 cups reconstituted tvp = 1 1/2 lbs ground meat / frozen tofu
On a side note, this guy deserves a medal in comfort food.

1 comment :

erin lou said...

Hi and thanks for the note! I am always excited to find people who are creative vegetarians/vegans and this recipe looks really good! I am going to try this soon!