If the word “soy” conjures up memories of dry, tasteless veggie burgers, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Soy products are healthful, abundant and relatively inexpensive. And more importantly, they taste great, too! The choices and varieties are plentiful, and the uses are limited only by available cabinet and refrigerator space.
Hesitating to take the plunge and try some soy in your diet? First, familiarize yourself with the vast array of soy products available. Several are described here. Call the companies manufacturing the products to request recipes or look in the cookbook section of a large bookstore for vegetarian cookery publications. Or, try calling the Indiana Soybean Board at (800) TALKSOY for additional information on preparing soy products and recipes.
Tofu — Sold in the produce or dairy section of your local supermarket, this white, block-shaped product will remind many of cheese in its texture, taste and consistency. Tofu is soybean curd, made by mixing hot soymilk with a coagulant.
Firm tofu: Use in stir-fry dishes, soups and stews. When mashed, it can be substituted for ricotta cheese in stuffed shells.
Soft tofu: Blend with herbs and spices for a zesty dip. Combine with melted chocolate chips for a sweet chocolate cream pie filling.
Silken tofu: Blend with frozen fruit and fruit juice for a delicious smoothie.
Tofu has a mild flavor, but will “soak up” the flavors of other ingredients in recipes, such as soy sauce, tomato sauce or pumpkin. Keep tofu stored in the refrigerator, and use by the expiration date on the package. Once opened, tofu should be used within a week. Drain off the liquid, add fresh water, and change the water daily.
Tempeh — A chewy, soft soybean cake made from fermented soybeans. This soy product can be marinated and grilled or added to stews, casseroles or chili. It has a smoky flavor and is sold in the produce or dairy section of the supermarket, or through health food stores.
Soymilk — Available in fortified versions and several different flavors, this product is sold in supermarkets in an aseptic package. Refrigerate after opening and enjoy it on cereal, in recipes, “milk” shakes and puddings. Even hot chocolate tastes great made with soymilk.
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) — This “ground beef imposter” can be used in place of all or part of ground beef in recipes, with little or no change in taste. Besides that, you will stretch your food dollar; you can expect to pay one-quarter to one-half of the cost of ground beef or ground sirloin. TVP is sold in a dry, granular form and needs only to be rehydrated with water prior to incorporating into chili, spaghetti sauce, tacos, sloppy Joes or even meatloaf. Get ready for a pleasant surprise when you sample this soy product!
Soy Nuts — This small, roasted peanut-like treat makes a healthful snack. Several flavored varieties are available through health food stores or catalogs.
Isolated Soy Protein Powder — The most highly refined soy protein, isolated soy protein powder is rich in protective isoflavones. It is a powder and is available at health food stores and through catalogs. Isolated soy protein powder can be added to baked products, puddings and “milk” shakes, to enhance nutritional value.
Soy Flour — Use soy flour in place of up to one-quarter cup of flour in baked products.