Let’s celebrate soy foods!

Published on: 04/21/2024

Whether in veggie burgers, smoothies or lattes, soy adds tasty plant-based goodness to your meals any time of day. In honor of Soy Foods Month, I am partnering with the United Soybean Board to share some soy love. Not only can you delight in the versatility of tofu – soft, firm or extra-firm, and tender edamame, fermented tempeh, crunchy soynuts and silky soymilk to get a good dose of high quality plant protein, but science says soy foods can benefit your health, too, by reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, breast and prostate cancer, as well as alleviating hot flashes, depressive symptoms and improving skin health.[1]

What’s at the heart of soy’s health benefiting powers? Isoflavones or specialized plant compounds that mimic the hormone estrogen and interact with estrogen receptors in the body [1] are believed to be the main health drivers inherent in soybeans. 

When it comes to macros, soybeans are uniquely different than other legumes. They are low in carbohydrates, moderately high in protein and higher in unsaturated fats than other beans and lentils. [2] Their low carb content makes soy foods a great choice for people with diabetes, plus their carbohydrates are believed to be prebiotics that feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. [3]

The quality of soy protein is like animal protein [4] and therefore it’s an ideal meat substitute. In addition, the fats in soy foods are a combo of essential fatty acids, omega-6 and omega-3 fats, which are both necessary for overall health.[5] 

The fun part is cooking with soy foods! Try these two simple and delicious soy-based recipes.

Savory Tofu and Vegetable Kabobs

Makes 8 kabobs

Ingredients

1/8 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/8 cup lemon juice 

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon sriracha 

1 teaspoon grated fresh or ground ginger

1 scallion, coarsely chopped

8 ounces extra firm tofu, cubed 

1 cup baby Bella mushrooms, quartered 

1 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds

1 cup cherry tomatoes 

Instructions

  1. To make the marinade, whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, oil, honey, sriracha, ginger and scallion.
  2. Put tofu in a shallow bowl and pour over marinade. Cover and let soak for at least an hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Meanwhile soak eight wooden skewers in water so they don’t burn under the broiler.
  4. Thread tofu and vegetables alternately onto the skewers. Brush with extra marinade. Place under a hot broiler or on the grill for about 5 minutes a side, basting occasionally.  Heat until vegetables are tender and tofu is golden brown.
  5. Serve kabobs with your favorite rice or slide tofu and veggies off skewers and put into pita pockets and top with a dollop of plain Greek-style yogurt. 

Nutrition Facts: Calories per serving: 391, Total Fat: 30 g, Saturated Fat:4.7 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 117 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 24.7 g, Dietary Fiber: 3.3 g, Total Sugars 12.4 g, Protein 10.3 g, Iron 3 mg, Potassium 485 mg  

Roasted Red Pepper and Edamame Salsa

Makes 8 – ¼ cup servings

1 red bell pepper, sliced 

2 cups shelled soybeans 

1 small shallot, minced 

1 Tablespoon crumbled feta cheese

1 Tablespoon cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put pepper on a sheet pan and place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until peppers soften and the flesh is golden brown.  
  2. In a small bowl make dressing by mixing together oil, vinegar, mustard, and oregano.
  3. In a large bowl toss together soybeans, red peppers, shallot, cheese, and cilantro. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Enjoy with whole grain pita chips or carrot chips or spoon onto grilled fish or chicken breast.     

Nutrition Facts: Calories per serving: 238, Total Fat: 11.1 g, Saturated Fat: 3.2 g, Cholesterol 11 mg, Sodium 297 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 24.7 g, Dietary Fiber: 9.3 g, Total Sugars 3.7 g, Protein 14.2 g, Iron 11 mg, Potassium 880 mg  

 References

  1. Messina M. Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 24;8(12):754. Accessed at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27886135/ on 2/8/24. 
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Version Current: September 2015. Available online: http://www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/ndl
  3. Inoguchi, S.; Ohashi, Y.; Narai-Kanayama, A.; Aso, K.; Nakagaki, T.; Fujisawa, T. Effects of non-fermented and fermented soybean milk intake on faecal microbiota and faecal metabolites in humans. Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 2012, 63, 402–410.
  4. Hughes, G.J.; Ryan, D.J.; Mukherjea, R.; Schasteen, C.S. Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid scores (PDCAAS) for soy protein isolates and concentrate: Criteria for evaluation. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2011, 59, 12707–12712.
  5. Blasbalg, T.L.; Hibbeln, J.R.; Ramsden, C.E.; Majchrzak, S.F.; Rawlings, R.R. Changes in consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the United States during the 20th century. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2011, 93, 950–962. 

Enjoy eating simply,

– Vicki

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Hi, I am Vicki. I am a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist and I want to inspire you to get in the kitchen with real food!

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