October 12, 2009

Soy Curls vs. TVP / vegan mofo 2009

Soy Curls after soaking, seasoning and sautéing.
I've gotten a couple of questions about the differences between Butler Soy Curls and TVP. As far as I can tell, the Soy Curls are made from whole soy beans, and TVP is made from de-fatted soy flour, a by product of soy oil production. There is no fat in plain TVP. The soy flour is cooked at high pressure, extruded and dried. Some manufacturers add oils, flavorings and assorted chemicals to achieve meat-like qualities, but TVP is also available plain.

According to the Butler Soy Curl Web site:
Select certified Non-GMO soybeans grown without chemical pesticides are soaked in spring water. Then the soybeans are cooked and delicately textured after which they are dried at low temperature thus ensuring the natural goodness of the whole soybean high in fiber and omega-3. Soy Curls™ are one of the most pure, healthful products on the market containing no chemicals, additives, or preservatives.
Both products are high in protein, low in salt and relatively high in fiber, and I'm not endorsing or denouncing either one. I've never been a big user of either of these soy products. In fact, when we cleaned out the kitchen before our recent move, I found a quantity of TVP that was probably at least 10 years old. I couldn't remember either buying or using it, and it went into the compost. Processed foods like this usually make me nervous, and I tend not to eat them very often, though I agree they taste good, and are satisfying and fun to eat.

Given the convenience, good taste and texture, and nutritional profile of TVP and Soy Curls, they are probably very popular food choices. Are they healthy? Are we getting too much soy in our diet? Too much protein? Should we eat "mock" foods? I don't know, but I'd love to hear your opinion. I think I'll use Soy Curls as an "occasional" food rather than as a regular part of my diet.

Fresh food from the Farmers Market.
This is part of the haul from our Saturday farmers market trip. We went to a different market this weekend, and were pleasantly surprised by the more reasonable prices and fantastic selection. It was in a parking lot, and lacking some of the quaint charm of the market we often go to, but the vegetables, nearly all organic, were gorgeous, and the prices were better. The University District Farmers Market is Seattle's oldest and largest "farmers-only" outdoor neighborhood market (more than 50 vendors) — in operation since 1993. We were delighted to learn that this market is in operation all year! Next week I'm taking the camera.

Here's what my son whipped up for lunch.


  1. We love soy curls! The kids get so excited- like it is Christmas when I pull them out!

  2. I haven't heard of soy curls before. I generally am not a fan of meat substitutes, but I do make an exception when I make bolognaise or shepherd's pie and then I use soya mince. This is the only substitute I use. Some of the products like fake chicken slices etc would just make me sick. I add the soya more as a texture rather than a flavour, there is plenty of flavour already in the dish.

  3. I can't eat soy, so I don't have any dilemma with too much soy or fake meats. I would rather have the fresh haul from the farmers market!

  4. I agree with you--I have never seen soy curls, and I very, very rarely use TVP or any other "fake" meat product. I think a lot of people first transitioning to vegetarianism/veganism might find them useful, but I have been a vegan for so long now, it doesn't even occur to me to use them! I do enjoy TVP when I use it, but like your, I have had a bag in my cupboard for I don't know how long, and it should probably be tossed!


  5. Debra,
    They're fun to eat, I agree.

    Soya mince sounds like it might be TVP. Texture seems like the main reason to use these things.

    I'd rather have the fresh haul, too. I think I have an addiction to farmers markets.

    I think we're in agreement. My husband still buys vegan "sausage" to add sparingly to pasta sauce on occasion. I probably wouldn't buy it but I eat it when it's in a dish. And we sometimes make seitan, which can be seen as a meat substitute. Usually we just eat veggies, beans, grains and fruit.

  6. Just found a post that expresses the idea of animal food substitutes really well: http://diannesylvan.typepad.com/dancing_down_the_moon/2009/10/vegan-mofo-whats-a-mulligan-anyway.html

  7. Thanks for explaining the difference. I never use TVP, and have never tried soy curls. Although Alan is in love with seitan, I generally don't make any mock meat things. Still, I guess it's intriguing. I wonder what I'd make with it? Your dishes sounded good! So who knows.... you are so lucky to have that farmer's market! Everything here froze and got snowed on already!

  8. I love soy curls. They are extremely versatile. I substitute them for chicken and even pork and beef. I believe I could serve dishes made with soy curls instead of poultry to non-vegetarians and they would not know the difference.

    1. I love soy curls, too. You can season them any way you like, and they add a wonderful chewy texture that I sometimes miss in vegan food. And, they are a whole food, not an extracted one.


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