My husband and I have not eaten meat for over two years. Instead, we use soybeans—along with raw peanuts, dairy products and eggs—as our main source of protein. Amsoy beans are our favorites since they do not have black "eyes" and their flavor is better than most commercial varieties.
We grow our own soybeans but—if you can't do the same—untreated, cleaned, certified seed beans are available for about $4.00 a bushel. Since the two of us use less than one bushel of soybeans a year, buying them is still much, much less expensive than purchasing or butchering one's own meat.
Soybeans should be soaked overnight before use. Some of the natural food authorities advise that this soaking be done in the refrigerator to prevent the beans from fermenting but any cool spot should do. Once the beans have been soaked, however, they definitely should be stored in the refrigerator until used.
Cook the beans 1 1/2 to 2 hours in salted water to which a little butter or margarine has been added. A few shakes of sea salt, hickory smoked salt or chopped onion and tomatoes adds variety.
The soybeans will be soft and tender when done. They make delicious soup; you can grind them and put them—with egg and rolled wheat flakes—in a meatless loaf that is served with tomato or cheese sauce; add them to dried fruit confections; or use them whole in "chicken salad" in place of cubed chicken.
OK. Eating soybeans is less expensive than eating meat . . . but what about health? All we can say is that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating". Our health is excellent and we're sure that (1) no fat meat and (2) plenty of whole grain cereal has a lot to do with it.
While we're on the subject of soybeans, everyone around MOTHER'S place likes to munch 'em roasted. The recipe, which we got from The Natural Foods Cookbook, goes something like this:
Put one cup of dry soybeans in a bowl, cover with four cups of water (you've got to use plenty of water because the beans will swell considerably), and soak the beans overnight in the refrigerator.
Drain off the excess liquid the next day and save it for stock. Dry the beans between a couple of towels, spread them thinly on a cookie pan and roast them in a 200° F oven for two hours.
After the two hours at 200°, put the pan under a broiler and stir the beans almost constantly (don't let 'em burn!) until they're brown.
Eat 'em hot out of the oven "as is" or shake 'em up in a jar with just a couple of drops of olive oil and a little salt. They're good cold too . . . like eating crunchy nuts. Grind the beans, if you want, and put 'em on ice cream as topping.
One final word: That last 5-6 minutes under the broiler, when roasting the beans, is—for us—absolutely essential. If you try to skip it (as I did once) the beans will have a green taste.
A final, final word: We get our beans from The Ombilical Cord in Fresno, California. I think they'll mail order most organic food products to you if you can't find a local store. Remember, though, that this is a shop that sells organic foods and not the seed beans mentioned in the piece above. Prices are higher here because the average sale is far smaller than for a dealer in untreated seed. The folks at The Ombilical Cord are honest, however, and their prices are far lower than most "health food" stores we've seen.—JS