Pretty much everyone associates soy with someone who doesn’t eat meat; but what exactly is soy and is it the end all be all of vegetarian fare?
The soybean is a type of plant native to East Asia and widely grown for its edible bean which has a number of uses. Uses for soybeans include soy milk, tofu, soy sauce and tempeh. The United States is the world’s top producer. Soybeans were a crucial crop in eastern Asian for centuries and remain a major crop in China, Japan and Korea. (Wikipedia)
Soy is often consumed by vegetarians as it is used as a source of non-animal protein; but is this meat substitute better for you than the real thing?
Like its meat counterpart, soy has both its beneﬁts and drawbacks.
Soybeans typically contain more dietary fat than other plants, however, the fat is mainly of healthier varieties. They have a low glycemic index and are a source of vitamins and minerals including folate, calcium, zinc and iron. (soy.com) Soybeans also contain phytochemicals (biologically active components found in plants). Isoﬂavones are phytochemicals in soybeans that are being studied in relation to menopausal symptom relief, cancer prevention, slowing or reversing osteoporosis and reducing the risk of heart disease. (healingdaily.com)
On the ﬂipside, soy allergies are fairly common. A high-consumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found in soybean oil, may increase the likelihood of post-menopausal women developing breast cancer. (The International Journal of Cancer, November 30, 2008) In a prime example of a catch-22, those same isoﬂavones being studied to help women, while showing a signiﬁcant reduced risk of breast cancer incidence in Asian populations, did not present the same in Western populations. (Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 2011)
As with many foods, the key is moderation.
According to Dr. Sam Miller, family medicine physician, nutrition aﬁcionado – and my husband, “It is a common mistake to think that protein is locked up in certain foods. Just about everything you eat has protein. Many of the health problems in our society today stem from eating too much protein and a narrow diet when what we should do is eat a variety of foods with enough protein to satisfy our basic needs.”
So by all means, enjoy your soy; but don’t forget your fruits and veggies. Life is about making informed choices and ﬁnding balance that, in the wise words of the great Goldilocks, is “just right.”
1 16-ounce block firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup diced red and green bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup sliced green onions
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Drain the tofu and crumble it, using clean hands. Sauté the garlic and diced peppers with the olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Stir in the crumbled tofu first, then add turmeric, salt, pepper, green onions and soy sauce. Cook the tofu for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Put on a corn or flour tortilla for breakfast burritos!
(Recipe from Annette Owen, FLorida Hospital, Flagler)
1 package (16 ozs.) shelled edamame (thawed if frozen)
2 green onions
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro
3 to 4 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. honey
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Combine edamame, green onions, cilantro, 3 tbsp. water, oil, lime juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor; process until smooth. Add additional water if necessary to thin out and smooth dip.
Enjoy with crackers or vegetables! Store leftover dip in refrigerator up to 4 days.
(from Fix It Quick Cooking for Kids)
Pam Ortiz Miller was born and raised in suburban New York avoiding books and writing of any kind as she preferred musical theatre where people sang you everything you needed to know. It wasn’t until she was a senior at the University of Maryland that she discovered a love of writing. Her main writing focus is poetry, however, she dabbles in short stories, news articles, screenplays and occasional angry letters to customer service reps and estranged relatives. Her latest endeavor is a blog entitled The Real Housewife of Ormond Beach chronicling her adventures in the domestic arts. Like most New Yorkers Pam ended up in Florida where she lives with her husband, three cats and a very special dog. Her hobbies include traveling, photography, cooking, cinema and getting rid of tan lines. On her off days from being a domestic diva she can be found rehabbing sea and land turtles.