The benefits of cooking with soy
Soy has been used in Asia for more than 5, 000 years. Proven to reduce cholesterol levels and provide a natural source of protein, soy products can easily be added to existing recipes.
WHAT IS SOY?
Soy is a naturally healthy, low-fat, quality plant-protein source which comes from soybeans. Soybeans have been grown for thousands of years and in the past decade, have become a common food and non-food additive to many products.
Originally grown in Asia for more than 5,000 years, soybeans are members of the PULSE plant family, native to tropical and warm temperate regions. The United States has been the major world producer of soybeans since the late 20th century.
The complex structure of soybean plants provides us with the ability to make hundreds of different products including non-food items like crayons, hair styling aids and conditioners, hand cleaners, flooring, candles and more.
FOODS AND SOY
Soybeans are widely recognized for their nutritional qualities. Soybeans and soy based products have proven to reduce cholesterol levels, treat kidney disease, fight heart disease, and aid in the body’s distribution and utilization of calcium, staving off diseases like Osteoporosis. Recent studies also suggest that soybeans may help to reduce the risk of cancer.
WHERE TO FIND SOYFOODS
Popular soyfoods like tofu, meat alternatives, soy sauces, flour and oils can be found in grocery stores and marketplaces. Natural health food stores offer the greatest variety of soyfoods and soy based products.
Soybean oil is one of the world’s most widely used edible oils. Consisting of 85% unsaturated fat, soybean oil is among the least fatty oils, and most recommended by healthcare professionals. Soybean oil is used in the production of liquid shortening, margarines, soft spreads and low fat spreads. It is also an additive or staple ingredient to foods such as salad dressings, non-dairy creamers, whipped toppings, ice cream, breakfast cereals, soups, frozen dairy desserts, peanut butter, sandwich spreads and snack foods.
Soy protein is being used more frequently by food manufacturers as a versatile, flavor enhancing additive. Soy protein has tremendous nutritional properties and can be found down almost every aisle of the supermarket. Soy protein is often added to baked goods, breads, pastas, meat, poultry and fish products, and milk blends.
Tofu is made by curdling hot soy milk and is also referred to as, “Soybean Curd.” It’s naturally low in saturated fat and contains no cholesterol. Tofu has a custard-like consistency and absorbs the flavors of other ingredients in recipes. Tofu can be used as an additive or main ingredient.
Soy milk is produced by grinding dehulled soybeans, mixing with water and cooking. The finished product is then filtered and sweetened. Soy milk provides a good source of thiamine, protein, iron, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. Soy milk is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol-free. Soy milk can be used in place of cow’s milk in any recipe.
Miso is fermented soybean paste. It is made from soybeans, rice or barley, salt, and water. It has a rich and salty flavor, and is used as a seasoning. Miso is an excellent way to enhance soups, marinades, dips and toppings.
Made by cooking and dehulling beans or grains, Tempeh is a cultured soybean cake. It’s tender and chewy, and is often used as a meat substitute. Tempeh can be grilled, deep fried, sauteed, steamed, baked, grated or microwaved.
Soybeans are sold in two varieties: dry soybeans and green vegetable soybeans. Dry soybeans are harvested when they are fully mature and dry, and green vegetable soybeans are harvested prior to maturity. Green vegetable soybeans are a versatile vegetable that can be eaten as a side dish or added into salads, dips and soups.
Soy cheese is made from soy milk, and has a creamy texture. It’s an easy substitute for sour cream or cream cheese in recipes.
Soy sauce is made from soybeans that have been fermented. The dark grown liquid with the salty taste is an excellent alternative to table salt. Shoyu, tamari and teriyaki are three distinct blends of soy sauces.
TIPS AND TRICKS
TRY adding soy to your diet slowly. Chunks of firm tofu can be tossed into soups and stews, meat loafs and lasagnas.
USE a tablespoon of soybean oil in place of regular cooking oils for a low fat, cholesterol free alternative. Soybean oil has little flavor, so it won’t interfere with the taste of food like other oils.
SOY MILK POWDER is an easy alternative to adding cow’s milk to baking recipes. Soy milk powder is made to be mixed with water, and stores easily in the refrigerator or freezer.
ADD soy milk, instead of cow’s milk, to creamed soups. You won’t taste the difference!
FOR AN EASY soup stock, add 1/4 cup of miso to a quart of water. For an easy low calorie broth, add 1 tablespoon to a cup of hot water.
TRY tempeh on the grill. Steam cakes, marinate in your favorite sauce, and then grill until brown.
SOY FLOUR can be used to thicken gravies and sauces or as a frying batter.