The 2010 Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to incorporate a variety of protein foods and list soy as one of those options.
Meat, poultry, and eggs are the most commonly consumed protein foods, while seafood, beans and peas, soy products, nuts and seeds are consumed in proportionally smaller amounts.
In fact, the average American consumes only 1 to 2 grams of soy protein daily. That equates to only about 2 percent of total protein intake. I believe that tasting is believing, and that if people had the opportunity to taste soy products, they would likely be motivated to incorporate those foods in their diet.
The benefits of soy include reduced risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and some types of cancers. In terms of nutritional value, soy foods are a source of high-quality protein, unsaturated fats and phytochemicals.
Plus, most soy products are grown in the USA. In fact, the United States often ranks first in global soybean production.
You will find soy in a variety of forms at the grocery store. Here are a few examples:
• Edamame — This whole, green soybean product tastes like a lima bean. You will find edamame in the pod or shelled, either frozen or in the produce department. Add these beans to your lettuce salad, vegetable stir fry or grain side dish.
• Tofu — This product is made from curdled soymilk and is sold as firm or silken (soft). It is very bland and takes on the flavor of the other ingredients in your recipe. Firm tofu is great in a stir fry, while silken tofu is a great base for a fruit smoothie or a homemade dip.
• Soymilk — When it comes to dairy alternatives, soymilk is one of your best bets because of its comparable protein content. You won’t see the same protein levels in almond, cashew, coconut or rice milks. Soy yogurt and ice cream options are also available.
• Soy nuts — These nuts are made by roasting soybeans. They can be a crunchy addition to your homemade trail mix. Soy nut butter is also available as an alternative to peanut butter.
• Meat alternatives — You can find soy versions of everything from chicken patties to burgers to bacon to breakfast sausage to ground beef crumbles. These products are typically lower in saturated fat and cholesterol when compared to their meat counterparts. They make for quick and easy meal ideas for vegetarians.
• Soy oil — Many vegetable oils are actually 100 percent soy oil. This option provides heart-healthy unsaturated fats and has a high smoke point, which makes it safe for stir-frying.
If you’re interested in learning more about soy and tasting some of these products, then mark your calendar for our soy sampling event from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at Hy-Vee North, 500 37th St. NW, Rochester.
Creamy edamame arugula soup
1 teaspoon soybean oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cups frozen shelled edamame
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, plus additional if needed
1 cup plain soymilk
1 cup packed baby arugula leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Heat soybean oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Add edamame and broth. Simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until edamame are tender. Place in food processor and add soymilk, arugula, salt and pepper. Process 1 minute or until smooth. Return to saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until soup begins to simmer. Ladle into bowls. Top with yogurt, if desired. Thin soup with additional broth if needed.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 140 calories, 4g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 440mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 12g protein.
Source: Adapted from United Soybean Board