The joy of soy products is that they're versatile, easy to use, and can offer significant health benefits.
Soy is associated with a number of health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of prostate cancer, fewer menopause symptoms, and decreased risk of osteoporosis. There is still dispute about the role of soy in health, particularly in the area of heart disease and breast cancer, but the fact remains that soy products are nutrient-rich foods that can promote good health. Soybeans contain complete protein, carbohydrate, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, calcium, folic acid and iron. Soy products are a high quality protein like meats and milk and are also cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.
Tofu is made from soybean curd that has been pressed into blocks. Like other soy products, tofu provides all the essential amino acids that are needed for human health, so it's a great replacement for meat in the diet. Pressing the tofu before sautéing eliminates excess moisture and helps the tofu triangles keep their firm shape during cooking.
Hot and Sour Soup
Cubes of tofu, along with egg white, provide high-quality protein in this traditional Asian soup. Dried mushrooms contribute some "meaty" flavor and texture, while garlic, green onions, cilantro and fresh ginger create a bright, fresh flavor. Although it's not considered a low-sodium soup, this version of hot and sour soup is slightly lower in sodium that the soup you'd get in a typical Chinese restaurant.
Asian Peanut Dip
Stirring silken tofu into peanut butter creates a wonderfully creamy dip that's high in protein and is a source of heart-healthy fats from both the soy and the peanut butter. Serve with dippers such as carrot sticks or apple wedges, or use it a sandwich spread.
Espresso Soy Milk Shake
Increase the nutrient power of a milk shake by using soy milk and soy ice cream in place of whole milk products. Keep in mind that soy milk has only about a quarter of the calcium of whole milk but a number of soy milks are enriched with calcium, so check the nutrition label on the container.
Bulgur Salad with Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes
Edamame are fresh green soybeans with a crisp texture and nutty flavor. They're available either fresh or frozen and in the pod or shelled. Toss them into salads to add protein and fiber as well a touch of color, or munch on these tasty beans for a healthy, low-fat snack.
Black Bean Chili
Using meatless soy crumbles in place of ground beef for chili and soup is a great way to decrease fat and increase fiber. Because this chili is packed with beans, onion, canned tomatoes, and the hearty burger crumbles, you'll never miss the meat.
Tempeh is a soy cake that's made by fermenting and pressing cooked soybeans. Nutty flavored and chewy, tempeh takes the place of eggplant in this Provencal-style dish featuring tomatoes, squash, onion, garlic and olive oil. Because of the addition of tempeh, this ratatouille is higher in protein than a traditional version and can be served as the main dish.
Seared Salmon Fillets with Edamame Succotash
Double your heart-healthy benefits with this one-dish meal featuring salmon and soy beans. Salmon is a top source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. And although researchers continue to discuss the effectiveness of soy in reducing heart disease risks, there are studies showing that the isoflavones in soy products can help reduce cholesterol.
Vegetarian Chipotle Nachos
If you're trying to eat less meat, making a simple substitution of meatless soy crumbles in place of ground beef is an easy way to start. For most recipes, you'll use the same amount of crumbles as you do of the beef, but the cooking time for the crumbles will be slightly less.
This smoothie is a nutrition superstar with soy milk, vitamin-C containing kiwifruit, and high-antioxidant green tea. It's sweetened with honey instead of sugar, and has only 1.1 grams of fat per serving. Not all soy milks are low in fat, so be sure to buy reduced-fat soy milk for this creamy drink.