Soy could help make your diet more healthful

January 06, 1998|By Lynn F. Little

Soy could help make your diet more healthful

Your favorite recipes for spaghetti sauce, chocolate cream pie and onion dip have something in common. You can make them more nutritious by replacing their meat or dairy ingredients with foods made from soybeans.

Why eat soy? If you have been trying to make your diet more healthful, soy may be just what you are looking for. Soy products are rich in protein and many are high in calcium and iron. Here are some common soy foods and suggestions for using them in your meals:

* Soybeans. Any recipe that includes beans can include soybeans.

* Tofu. Tofu has a soft, cheese-like texture and comes in extra firm, firm, soft and silken varieties.

* Textured Soy Protein. This protein has a meaty texture and a mild taste that absorbs seasonings.

* Tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay). Tempeh has a chewy texture and a rich, unique flavor that some find similar to that of mushrooms. It is high in fiber.


* Soy milk. You can buy low-fat soy milk, as well as soy milk that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. It also is available in flavors such as chocolate and vanilla. Use soy milk as you would regular milk - pour it over cereal or use it to make cream sauces or baked goods.

* Isolated soy protein. You can dissolve this flavorless powder into drinks, sauces, pasta fillings and soups.

Because soy foods are cholesterol free, they are a healthy alternative to meat and dairy products. In addition, soy foods usually contain less fat than meat and dairy products. Research suggests that eating two to three servings of soy each day can help lower your cholesterol level.

There are other benefits from using soy products. Experts have found that people who eat large amounts of soy products have a lower risk of breast, colon and other cancers.

It is not always easy to eat a healthful diet, but soy can help.

By experimenting with soy foods, you might find that you do not have to give up the foods you enjoy most.

Silken Shake

1 package silken tofu

3 cups strawberries*

2 cups cranberry juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons sweetener

Using a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth. Serve cold. Serves 2 (298 calories, 0 cholesterol/serving). *Note: Any fresh or frozen fruit can be substituted for strawberries.

Stir-Fry Vegetables and Tofu

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon oil

1 slice fresh ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger)

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 package (10.5 ounces) firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup chopped cabbage*

1/2 cup sliced onion*

1 cup sliced carrots*

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets*

Crushed hot peppers

Combine soy sauce and water; add cornstarch. Heat oil until hot in a large frying pan. Add ginger and garlic. Heat one minute. Add cubed tofu and stir-fry until light brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Add vegetables and stir-fry 5 minutes. Add tofu to vegetable mixture; stir cornstarch mixture and pour over tofu and vegetables. Stir until sauce thickens. Add crushed hot peppers to taste. Serve with rice. Serves 4 (138 calories, 0 cholesterol/serving). *Note: Vegetables can be substituted to meet your preferences.

Maryland Cooperative Extension Service's programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

Lynn F. Little, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences Cooperative Extension Service, University of Maryland

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