Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the May 10, 2009 Newsletter, issued from the Siskiyou Mountains west of Grants Pass, Oregon:


Above you can see a good-tasting, soul-pleasing dish Anita prepared the other day. It contains no cholesterol, little fat, but is surprisingly high in iron, fiber and complete protein. The noteworthy thing about it is that what looks like hunks of ham or chicken breast is a special kind of textured soy called Soy Curls. The dish is completely vegetarian, so no animals were killed to produce it, and no agricultural land was wasted producing grain to feed to animals.

The importance of that last point can be appreciated by reflecting on a sentence in Eugene Odem's classic textbook Fundamentals of Ecology where it's stated that during the course of a year 20,000,000 alfalfa plants weighing 17,850 pounds are needed to fuel 4.5 cows weighing 2,250 pounds to satisfy the energy needs of a single 105-pound boy. Taking your protein from soybeans is profoundly more Earth-friendly than getting it by eating animal flesh.

Here's Anita's recipe for the above dish:



The nutritional yeast adds important nutrients, especially the B Vitamins, and is important for the taste. If you don't have yeast, an egg might be substituted. Textured soy is pretty tasteless, so seasoning is important.


Textured soy for recipes like the above can be bought in several forms at most large groceries. Usually the least expensive kind is desiccated soy sold in plastic bags. Dried, textured soy often has a bad name because some manufacturers use a sulfur-based process to remove fat from the soy, so it'll have a longer shelf-life.

It happens that one of our vegetarian friends operates a small factory here in Oregon producing what they call Soy Curls. Those are rehydrated Soy Curls in the noodle dish. They have the texture and taste of chicken breast marinated in its own juices. Soy Curls have had nothing removed from the soybean and the beans themselves are non-genetically-modified, grown without chemical pesticides and contain no preservatives or additives at all. Their taste and texture is far superior to textured soy produced by the sulfur process.

Desiccated textured soy approximately triples in weight when hydrated. That means that the 8-ounce package of Soy Curls Anita used for her noodle dish produced 1.5 pounds of soft, flavorful, chicken- breast-like textured soy.

Twelve pounds of Soy Curls (rehydrating to 36 pounds of tender soy) costs $47.95 + $10.00 shipping at http://www.butlerfoods.com/wheretobuy/orderonline.html.

More Soy Curl recipes are available at http://www.butlerfoods.com/recipes/recipes.html.