Soy in the Kitchen
As mentioned, soy is available in a wide variety of foods. Soybeans can be eaten whole—fresh or frozen as in edamame or dried as in soy nuts. They can also be fermented to make tempeh, miso, or soy sauce, of which the latter two are used primarily to flavor various sweet and savory foods. They can be soaked, mashed, and heated to create soymilk or curdled to make tofu or bean curd. They’re processed to make oil, flour, and soy noodles. The key thing to remember about soy is that, while all soy foods are derived from the soybean, they are, except for soybeans themselves, essentially processed foods. This isn’t bad; but it does mean that you should read labels when you choose soy foods, and you will have to do some experimenting to find the soy foods you like best.
Table of Contents
A daily intake of 25 grams of soy protein is ideal. Here are some rich sources:
Four ounces of firm tofu contains 18 to 20 grams of protein.
One soy “burger” includes 10 to 12 grams of protein.
An 8-ounce glass (1 cup) of Edensoy original formula soymilk contains approximately 11 grams of protein.
One soy protein bar delivers 14 grams of protein.
One-half cup of tempeh provides 16 to 19 grams of protein.
One-quarter cup of roasted soy nuts contains approximately 15 grams of protein.
Here’s the key to shopping for soy foods: check the protein content on the label. Many people get very confused about buying soy because they try to rely on the “isoflavones” content as listed on the label. Some foods don’t list isoflavoncs. Some foods list isoflavone amounts that are not accurate. Some foods list isotlavone fortification, but we don’t recommend relying on added isoflavone in food. There simply isn’t evidence to confirm the long-term safety of isoflavone-fortified products.
In general, the best way to learn the isoflavone content of a food is to rely on the listed protein content. The protein content of the food is closely linked to the isollavone content. You can get the benefits of soy with as little as 10 grams of soy protein a day. For example, V4 cup of soy nuts has 15 grams of soy protein. While soy nuts are high in calories, most people love them and are delighted to eat a scant V4 cup while relaxing at the end of the day. That’s all it takes to get the benefit of soy!
Soymilk: Soymilk is a major source of soy protein. Soymilk is made from soybeans that have been finely ground, cooked, and strained. It comes with various additives and in a variety of flavors. It’s widely available in aseptic packages, which keep for a long time and don’t need to be refrigerated until opened. As Lorna Sass says in her excellent The New Soy Cookbook, “… not all soymilks are created equal. Tastes ranged from light, fresh and pleasantly sweet to musky, chalky, oily and intensely ‘beany.’ Color ranged from creamy white to dark caramel, with lots of shades in between.” You really have to experiment with locally available brands to find a soymilk that pleases you.
Edamame: Edamame are green soybeans still in their pods. Ideal because they’re a whole food, they are available in the frozen food section of natural food markets and many supermarkets. Boil the pods in lightly sailed water for a few minutes, then pop them right from the pods into your mouth. Edamame taste like slightly sweet lima beans. You can also find shelled soybeans frozen in bags and these are great to add to soups, pasta sauces, salads, and stews. One cup of shelled edamame has about 23 grams of protein.
Soy Protein Powder: There are two kinds of soy protein powder and. I’ll admit, it can be quite confusing when shopping for this popular additive to shakes and baked foods.
Soy protein concentrate comes from detailed soy flakes. It contains about 70 percent protein, while retaining most of the bean’s dietary fiber.
Soy Flour: Soy flour has been processed from whole ground soybeans. Use it to increase the protein content of breads, cakes, and cookies. Soy flour contains no gluten, so it cannot be used to replace the wheat flour in baking. But you can use it to supplement your other flour: in yeast-raised breads: use 2 tablespoons of soy flour per cup of wheat flour; with quick breads, you can replace up to one-quarter of the wheat flour with soy flour. You may notice that breads made with soy flour brown more quickly than those made with just wheat. One-quarter cup of soy flour has 8 to 12 grams of protein.
Tempeh: Tempeh is a soy food made from soybeans that have been cracked and inoculated with a beneficial bacterium. It is fermented and then formed into flat blocks. Sometimes grains like brown rice, barley, or millet are added. Tempeh has a meaty taste and is often used as a meat substitute in cooking. It can be marinated and grilled as well as added to stews and pasta sauces. High in protein, fiber, and isoflavones, it is usually found in the refrigerated dairy section of your natural food store or supermarket. Tempeh can be frozen and, once defrosted, must be refrigerated. It will keep for about ten days. Three ounces of tempeh, or about 1/2 cup, has approximately 16 ounces of protein.
Miso: Miso, like tempeh, is a fermented soy food. There is a wide range of misos available, particularly if you search in Asian markets. Generally a strong-tasting, salty condiment, miso is perhaps most familiar as miso soup. It docs provide soy isoflavones but, like soy sauce, its sodium content is high and thus doesn’t make a good general source of soy protein.