Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update

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Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update
Healthy Tips and Recipes for Institutions

Volume VIII, Number 4  Fall 2000  


Question: I'm still not clear on soy. Is it a bean or what? How can I include some soy-based foods on my menu? How can I "sell" it to my omnivore customers, so it's worth my while to have it on the menu?

Answer: Soy certainly is getting a lot of press these days; the FDA is allowing soy producers to list health claims on their soy products concerning the role of soy in reducing the risk of heart disease. The USDA is allowing school food services to substitute soy for meat in school meals. So, we're not surprised that you're getting more requests for soy foods (and we bet that your "omnivores" will be more than willing to sample new and exciting menu items). Soy comes from soybeans, and soybeans belong to the legume family, the same as lentils and peas. Fresh green soybeans (edamame in Japanese) can be steamed and eaten as a snack or used to add crunch to salads. Think edamame as a bar snack, as a fun appetizer, or as a different side dish. Cooked soybeans are available canned, in green, black, and yellow. Use them to make a fast chili, bean soup, or addition to salad bars. You can purée soybeans to form the base of a dip for chips and veggies. Ask your purveyors about in-the-pod or shelled, frozen soybeans.

Soy has been around for at least 5,000 years. Amuse your customers with a little soy history, such as sailors and traders bringing soybeans with them as they traveled around the world as early as the 1400's. The first commercial soy crop was grown in 1829. During the Civil War, soldiers used soy-beans as a substitute coffee and brewed a hot beverage from them. American farmers grow about 2 billion bushels of soybeans a year. Although there are no RDA's for soy, if someone asks, medical research suggests that 25 grams of soy protein a day may help to control cholesterol, slow bone thinning, and reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Soymilk can be drunk on its own and can be readily substituted for cow's milk. Pour it over hot or cold cereal, use it for creamy sauces and salad dressings, and in cold smoothies or hot coffee beverages. Tofu, available in different textures and flavors, can be sliced cold and put into green or pasta salads or prepared hot in stir-fries, soups, and pastas. It can also be used as a pizza topping. Tempeh (fermented soy) is firm enough to grill or roast, and its smoky flavor makes it a good alternative to beef in sandwiches, chili, soups, and casseroles. TVP (textured vegetable protein) can be formed into burgers, loaves, and roasts or crumbled into sauces or soups. Good luck and think soy!

Excerpts from the Fall 2000 Issue:

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