April is National Soyfoods Month, making it the perfect time to discover the versatility and many health benefits of soyfoods.
Unlike many other protein sources, soyfoods are cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.
Soy is also an excellent source of healthy fats, including monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats – which makes it good for your cardiovascular system, along with the fact that it is high in antioxidants.
While evidence about the health benefits of soy protein continues to mount, the environmental benefits are becoming clear too.
Research has shown that the environmental impact of producing proteins from soybeans is low compared to proteins produced from animal sources. Researchers estimated that it takes 6-17 times more land, 4-26 times more water and 6-20 times more fossil fuel to produce an equivalent amount of protein from meat versus soybeans.
You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to incorporate these healthy and planet-friendly legumes into your diet. Why not experiment with versatile soy products such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy cheese, soy milk, veggie burgers, chickenless nuggets, corn dogs, soy oil, tamari and more this month?
The main soyfoods
Tempeh is a chunky, and tender soybean product. Whole soybeans, sometimes mixed with another grain such as rice or millet, are fermented and pressed into a cake or bar with a smoky or nutty flavor. Sliced, marinated and grilled tempeh is a great addition to soups, casseroles or chili.
Tofu, also known as soybean curd, is a soft, smooth soy product made by curdling fresh, hot soymilk with coagulant. Tofu has a mild taste and easily absorbs the flavors of marinades, spices and other ingredients. Tofu is low in sodium and rich in high-quality protein and B vitamins.
There are two main types of tofu:
Water-packed tofu comes in extra-firm, firm and soft varieties. This tofu is dense, solid and holds up well in stir fries and soups, on the grill or in dishes where tofu should maintain its shape.
Silken tofu, also called soft, silk, or Japanese-style tofu, has a softer consistency than regular tofu and will fall apart if not handled carefully. Salad dressings, sauces, and desserts often use blended or puréed silken tofu for a thick and creamy texture, serving as a stand-in for everything from soy milk to cream.
Miso is a rich, salty soy paste, primarily used in Japanese cooking. The Japanese use miso to flavor a variety of foods such as soups, sauces, dressings and marinades. Miso contains soy protein and is high in sodium.
Meat alternatives containing soy protein are used to imitate meat, such as burgers, sausages, bacon and hot dogs. Generally lower in fat than meat and either low or free of cholesterol, meat alternatives are excellent sources of protein, iron and B vitamins.
Fresh Prep soy recipe inspiration
At Fresh Prep, our in-house chefs regularly include soy recipes on our menu. Here are some of our upcoming soy recipes for April and beyond:
This might just be our new favourite way to eat tempeh! Sticky and crunchy tempeh with a bacon-inspired seasoning is layered onto romaine lettuce with our housemade plant-powered Caesar dressing! Garnished with plenty of nutrient-dense seeds, roasted chickpea croutons, crisp radishes and punchy chives.
For the spice enthusiast, this recipe satisfies the heartiest cravings. Roasted red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and harissa paste create a bold sauce, made luxurious with creamy coconut milk. Heaps of tofu and fresh spinach are added to the sauce, then it’s spooned over wholesome brown rice and garnished with cilantro.
Time to take taco Tuesday up a notch! Saucy, spicy buffalo tofu is complemented with a deliciously creamy dill pickle ranch sauce, cooling avocado, and fresh cabbage slaw, all served over warm corn tortillas. This recipe is sure to be the ‘taco’ the town.
Tofu contains a lot of water, so you’ll want to squeeze most of it out, especially if you’re baking, grilling or frying it, to promote a nice sear. To do this, place tofu in a kitchen towel and use a stack of books to gently press the water out.
5 things no one ever told you about soybeans
- Soybeans have been called “meat without bones” because, although this versatile bean is small in comparison to many other beans, it is packed with protein – 38% in fact, which is 2x as much as pork, 3x more than eggs, and 12x more than milk.
- Elevators in the Statue of Liberty are lubricated with soybean oil.
- The soybean is called the “miracle bean” because of its amazing versatility. Soybeans are used in a variety of consumer and industrial products. For example, an acre of soybeans can be used to produce 82,368 crayons.
- Soybeans are used to make a renewable fuel known as biodiesel. Compared to petroleum-based diesel, biodiesel produces fewer air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrocarbons.
- Tofu’s neutral taste makes it versatile for cooking as it takes on the flavours of the ingredients it’s been cooked or marinated in.