The Joy of Soy
Six easy ways to sneak soy products into your diet
We keep hearing about the power of the bean: the soybean, that is. The
American Heart Association says consuming 25 to 50 grams of soy a day can help
lower our LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) by as much as 8%.
Research has also shown promising results for soy in preventing stroke, cancer
(notably breast cancer), osteoporosis, and hot flashes.
Researchers are still debating whether it's the phytoestrogens found in soy
that promote these health benefits, or the soy protein and fat -- or both.
Either way, the bottom line is to eat soy. If you haven't been eating any at
all, several servings a week is a good start.
The good news is that soy has come a long way, baby! It's not just in health
food stores anymore, and it isn't all about tofu, either.
Here are my top six ways to get some soy.
Green soybeans, sometimes called edamame, are
found in the frozen vegetable section of your supermarket. They look like baby
limas and have a mild taste and a firm texture.
Use them in recipes as you would beans (soups, casseroles, etc.). Try
microwaving them in their shells, let cool, and eat as a snack or appetizer
(discarding the pods). Or microwave shelled soybeans, and eat them hot with
salt, pepper, and maybe a bit of butter or canola margarine. Journal 1/2 cup of
cooked green soybeans as 1/2 cup of vegetables plus 1 teaspoon fat.
Canned soybeans are found in some supermarkets.
Frankly, I haven't been impressed with the brands that I've tasted. But maybe
there's a better-tasting brand out there. Use them in place of other canned
beans: in bean salads, soups, entrees, etc. Journal 1/2 cup of canned soybeans
as 1/2 cup in the starches-and-legumes category, plus 1 teaspoon fat.
Plain tofu comes in firm, soft, lite, or silken.
There are two ways to approach tofu: hide it and hope no one notices, or
feature it as a main ingredient. I do both! Add tofu to stir fries, casseroles,
and other entrees to replace some or all of the meat. Add the soft or silken
variety to sauces, soups, smoothies, dips or spreads. Journal it in the
main-dish category as tofu without added fat. One serving is 4 ounces.
Baked tofu is available in flavors ranging from
spicy to sesame. I especially like baked tofu, mainly because it can be eaten
immediately or added to recipes without any preparation. Eat it as it is with
crackers, or add to a sandwich spread, the filling of a vegetarian burrito, or
other mixed dish or casserole. Journal in the main-dish category as tofu
without added fat. One serving is 4 ounces.
Soymilk (unflavored or flavored) is usually
available in plain, vanilla, and chocolate. Some brands taste better than
others; Silk brand is my personal favorite. Depending on how well you like
soymilk, you can drink it plain, add it to cold cereal, make oatmeal with it,
or add to coffee, shakes, and smoothies. (If you use it to make instant
pudding, use half soymilk and half cow's milk; otherwise it may not thicken
well). Journal unflavored soymilk as soy milk (in the dairy products category).
Journal flavored soy milk the same way, but add 1 teaspoon of sugar per cup of