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

Volume VI, Number 3 Summer 1998  

By Nancy Berkoff, R.D., Ed.D., CCE

Soybeans are a major crop in the United States. What's ironic is that livestock consume more soy than humans. This is really too bad. Soy is a "user friendly" food "that can save you from heart disease and cancer," says Dr. Mark Messina. Phytochemicals (chemicals of plant origin that have been shown to have beneficial properties) are the nutritional buzzwords of the nineties. Soy is high in phytochemicals, having isoflavones and plant estrogens, which have antioxidant characteristics and properties that seem to inhibit cancer cell growth.

Looking at it another way, eating animal protein encourages the body to excrete calcium and makes the kidneys work overtime. Populations that depend heavily on soy products for their protein have less heart disease (soy has no cholesterol) and less cancer. Research is just showing that soy may also help to inhibit bone loss, thus reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Women not wanting to take pharmaceutical estrogen to decrease menopause symptoms use soy products. If you would like to read more about soy research, the United Soybean Board has updated bulletins. You can contact them at P.O. Box 419200, St. Louis, MO 63141; 800 TALK-SOY.

Soybeans have a make-up of 26 % of calories from carbohydrate, 34 % protein, and 42 % fat (yes, soy products can be high in fat; if this is a concern, select low- or no-fat soy products). The fat content is 16% saturated, with 7 % being linolenic (the same type found in omega-3 fatty acids, which are touted as reducing heart disease). The amino acids in soy combine to make a high quality protein, which is efficiently used by our bodies. Soybeans contain soluble fiber, which helps to regulate blood glucose levels, important for diabetics.

Okay, so now you're convinced to use more soy products on your menu. Where do you begin? See the side bar on the next page for some helpful tips on equivalents, which you can choose from. One serving of protein of various soy foods according to the USDA food pyramid are as follows: 1/2 cup cooked soybeans (they're nutty and mild and good in soups, casseroles, chili or as a side dish on their own); 1/2 cup tempeh; 1 cup textured soy protein; 1/4 cup soy nuts; 1/2 cup tofu (available in different textures and fat levels); 1/4 cup defatted soy flour; 1 cup soymilk; and 2 tablespoons miso.

Next, let's give you some soy speak. Here are some of the more popular and available types of soy and information on how to use them:

* TOFU: soybean curd made from curdling and pressing hot soymilk. Can be found in regular, lowfat and non-fat varieties. Textures range from thickened milk-like all the way to cutable-with-a-knife. Soft tofu can be used in quiches, puddings, custards, sauces, and cheesecake. Firm tofu can be grilled or stir-fried, used as crumbles in tacos or entree sauces and scrambled.

Remember, tofu picks up the flavor you cook it with; so the sky's the limit. Use silken tofu instead of sour cream or mayonnaise. Tofu can replace eggs in many recipes. Tofu is available smoked, marinated, and even as a sweet custard. Don’t forget that it is perishable and likes moisture; so keep it refrigerated and covered. If you purchase bulk tofu, you will have to change the water it sits in daily until you are ready to use it.

* TEMPEH: a tender cake of fermented soybeans sometimes mixed with grains. Can be used as the "bite" in entrees. Can stand up to heat and baking. I use it in pasta sauce and chili.

* SOYMILK: available in various flavors and fat levels. Made by soaking and pressing soybeans. Naturally high in protein, but low in calcium, vitamins A, D, and B-12 unless fortified. Use wherever you'd use cow's milk. It's perishable too (unless in unopened asceptic package), so store correctly.

* SOY SPROUTS: growing shoots of soybeans. High in vitamin C and protein. Wash thoroughly before using (but don't let them sit in water because they'll become soggy and lose some of their nutrients). Use in salads, soups, casseroles, and stir-fries.

* NATTO: made of fermented soybeans (for more flavor, as soy is somewhat bland), which have been cooked and mashed. Has the texture of cheese and is great for topping soups and casseroles, rice, and veggies.

* MISO: is a paste (very salty) of fermented soybeans and grains. Miso has a nutty, smoky flavor. Used for a flavoring (a little goes a long way) in soups, sauces, marinades, and dressings.

* SOY CHEESE AND YOGURT: made from soymilk. Different flavors and fat levels are available. Some soy cheeses melt well and can be used in hot or cold sandwiches (in addition to the millions of other ways you use cheese). Use soy cheese or yogurt in place of cream cheese or sour cream. Some soy cheeses contain casein and are not vegan.

* SOY NUTS: roasted soybeans—they're good! Have a nutty, peanut flavor.

* SOY GRITS: very coarsely ground soybeans. Cooks up just like any hot cereal.

* TEXTURED SOY PROTEIN: soybean proteins are extracted and dried. Can be used as a flavor enhancer or as part of the "body" in casseroles. Pretty high in salt. Should not be used for low fiber diets (very high in fiber).

* OKARA: is soy fiber, a byproduct of soymilk. Tastes a bit like coconut and can be added to baked goods.


INSTEAD OF:                 USE:


1 ounce baking chocolate    3 ounces cocoa powder and 1 Tablespoon soy oil

1 cup cow's milk            1 cup soy or rice milk

1 cup yogurt                1 cup soft tofu, blended 

1 egg                       2 inch square of tofu, blended or
                            1 Tablespoon soy flour and 1 Tablespoon water

1 cup ricotta cheese        1 cup firm tofu, mashed

As far as nutritive value, for 3-1/2 ounces you get 206 calories from miso, 212 calories from natto, 77 from okara, 173 from whole soybeans, 450 from soy nuts, 33 from whole soymilk, 199 from tempeh, and 145 from firm tofu (the firmer the tofu, the higher the calorie content, as it becomes more concentrated).

Store dried soybeans in airtight containers in a cool, dry place and they should stay fresh for a year. Soy products can become rancid easily and will absorb flavors and odors, so keep them all stored tightly and separately. Tofu, kept refrigerated, with the water changed, if necessary, should keep for about a week (but no more than that). If you want to prepare dried soybeans, let them soak overnight (discarding the soak water may help to reduce some of the gas-producing qualities). Eight ounces of dried beans cooked in 1-1/2 cups water should yield about 2-1/4 cups cooked beans. Soybeans need long cooking (2-3 hours following soaking) or pressure cooking.

Soy products are versatile, healthy, and easy-to-use. For example, a favorite "throw together" soup of ours is made with firm tofu, soymilk, thawed frozen corn kernels, canned tomatoes, and tomato puree, which is then seasoned with curry powder and garlic. Served as is, it can be used for every diet modification except low sodium and puréed (and you can blend it for that modification). We also make a fast rice pudding with tofu, soymilk, left-over rice, dried fruit, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Start experimenting with soy products now and you'll never believe your kitchen survived without them. Here are some recipes to get you started.

Excerpts from the Summer 1998 Issue:

For the complete issue, please subscribe to the magazine. To subscribe to Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update, click here and check "Add 1 year Foodservice Update for $10 more  on whatever subscription form you choose.

Converted to HTML by Stephanie Schueler

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