It’s National Soy Foods Month! But – what is soy exactly? Where does it come from? Is it safe? How do you eat it? These are all common questions when it comes to soy products – and we have the answers!
Soy is a bean in its natural form – AKA the soybean! It’s a plant that has been around for almost 5,000 years and is found most often in the cuisine of China, Japan, and Indonesia. In America, you can easily find soy foods in almost any grocery store. Most soy products are safe and can be healthy if eaten in moderation (surprise!) just like most other foods. Soy is a complete protein meaning it has all the essential amino acids.
Other Health Highlights:
High in Calcium!
High in Iron!
Here are some common soy foods:
Edamame – Can be found in the freezer section. Edamame are immature soybeans that are still in the pod. Cook as directed on the bag!
Tofu – Can be found in the refrigerator section. Be sure to check sell-by dates and expiration dates – treat it like a dairy product as you store it. It can be frozen as well and will last up to 5 months in the freezer. Drain the water first and wrap in foil before freezing. Tofu can be baked, broiled, barbecued, grilled, fried, boiled, or steamed.
Miso – Usually comes in a sealed container and requires refrigeration after opening. Miso is a flavoring made from fermented soybeans. Works great in soups and sauces and adds a cheese-like flavor.
Tempeh – Generally found in the refrigerator section. Like tofu – make sure to check sell-by dates. Tempeh can be cooked with almost any method and lasts up to 6 months if kept frozen.
Soy milk – Can be found next to cow’s milk in the grocery store – some varieties can be found non-refrigerated on the shelves. Check for sell-by dates and storage instructions.
Soy nut butter – Use and store like peanut butter!
Other soy products such as soy hot dogs and soy burgers should be limited in our diet. They are highly processed much like their meaty counterparts and don’t provide all the health benefits that the soy products listed above do. Replacing a meat dish with a soy dish a couple times a week can help manage our cholesterol and boost our calcium and iron intake.
Here is a super quick recipe that includes soybeans –
Three Bean Salad
1 cup canned black soybeans, rinsed and drained
1 – 10.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen cut green beans, defrosted
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp coarse mustard
½ tsp salt
1 tsp soy oil
Simply put everything in a bowl and toss – voila! A perfect side dish for your spring grill out!