Soy Recipes and How-To Tips

Soy is an important part of a heart-healthy diet (it's even on Cleveland Clinic's list of top 40 power foods). Get our complete guide to including this heart-healthy food in your day.

The Cleveland Clinic, one of the top heart hospitals in the United States, includes soy on its list of the 40 most powerful foods for heart health.

"Soybeans are very heart-healthy," says Julia Zumpano, R.D., at the Cleveland Clinic. According to Zumpano, soy is:

-- a great source of protein

-- a good source of omega-3 fatty acids

-- low in saturated fat

-- virtually cholesterol-free in its natural form

-- a good source of additional fiber, especially soluble fiber, which can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration believes soy's heart benefits are so strong that it allows a health claim on labels that states "25 grams of soy protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."

Types of Soy Products

The names of various types of soy can be confusing, so we've provided a beginner's guide to choosing, storing, and eating various kinds of soy.

1. Tofu

What: Curdled soymilk

How to use: Marinate it or combine it with other ingredients as it absorbs those flavors. Add tofu to casseroles and stir-fries.

Note: Silken tofu is generally used in desserts, firm tofu in main dishes.

2. Soymilk

What: Liquid pressed from the soybean

How to use: Use in place of cow's milk.

Note: Lactose- and cholesterol-free and available in different flavors.

3. Soy cheese

What: Made from tofu

How to use: Nondairy substitute for cheese.

Note: Loses much of its nutritional value in processing but still good to use if you can't have cow's milk cheese.

4. Tempeh

What: Fermented soybean product

How to use: Often marinated, grilled, or fried as a meat substitute.

Note: Sold frozen or refrigerated.

More Types of Soy Products

Here are four more popular soy products you can enjoy on a heart-healthy diet.

5. Miso

What: Paste made from fermented grains and soy

How to use: Use as a soup base.

Note: Believed to help digestion.

6. Soy flour

What: Finely ground soybeans

How to use: Use in place of regular flour.

Note: Soy flour lacks gluten so it is not an equal substitute for wheat flour; recipes must be adjusted.

7. Soy nuts

What: Shelled soybeans that have been dried and roasted

How to use: Use in place of other nuts.

Note: Come in lots of flavors and have much less fat than other nuts.

8. Edamame

What: Fresh soybeans harvested when still green

How to use: Boiled and lightly salted, they are a great snack. Can also be added to soups and noodle and rice dishes.

Note: Frozen edamame comes shelled or in pods. Some may already be cooked.

10 Ways to Enjoy Soy

1. Pour soymilk over your cereal or use in a smoothie at breakfast. Try vanilla soymilk for extra flavor.

2. Snack on soy nuts midmorning when you crave something crunchy.

3. Toss edamame in your salad at lunch.

4. Put soy cheese on your turkey sandwich.

5. Enjoy soy yogurt with fruit for an afternoon treat.

6. Grill a meatless (soy) cheeseburger for dinner.

7. Serve sandwiches with soy crisp snack chips.

8. Top a pizza or nachos with soy cheese.

9. Use soymilk to make a creamy dressing.

10. Make your favorite cake, cookie, or muffin recipe with soymilk.

Get Your 25 Grams of Soy Protein

Research shows that eating 25 grams of soy protein a day lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol 3-5 percent. It's also believed to cause a small increase in HDL (good) cholesterol.

Not sure how to rack up all 25 grams of soy protein recommended daily for heart health? Check out these amounts, which shows the average grams of soy protein in common soy foods.

1/2 cup soy pudding
Grams of soy protein: 6 g
(Kozy Shack Soy Pudding shown)

1 serving soy chips
Grams of soy protein: 7 g
(Genisoy Soytato Chips shown)

2 soy breakfast patties
Grams of soy protein: 11 g
(Boca Patties shown)

1 soy bar
Grams of soy protein: 14 g
(Genisoy Ultra and Soyjoy shown)

1 cup fortified soymilk
Grams of soy protein: 6-7 g

1-1/4 cups soy cereal
Grams of soy protein: 7 g

1 cup soy yogurt, vanilla
Grams of soy protein: 6 g

2 tablespoons soy nut butter
Grams of soy protein: 7 g

1/4 cup soy nuts, roasted, unsalted
Grams of soy protein: 11 g

1/2 cup tofu
Grams of soy protein: 10 g

1/2 cup edamame
Grams of soy protein: 11 g

1/3 cup meatless soy, ground
Grams of soy protein: 10 g

1 soy burger
Grams of soy protein: 13-14 g

1/2 cup cooked soy pasta
Grams of soy protein: 13 g

Convenience Soy Products

Many convenience soy foods are available in the freezer section. Made with texturized vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, or a mix of both, today's versions are much improved over the odd-tasting meat substitutes of a decade ago. Just be sure to watch the sodium. If you are on a salt-restricted diet, read the nutrition label before you buy.

Three major brands make a variety of soy products for you to enjoy:

Boca
Enjoy its:

-- Breakfast Links

-- Meatless Burgers

-- Ground Burger Crumbles

-- Original Chik'n Nuggets

Morningstar Farms
Enjoy its:

-- Breakfast Sausage Patties

-- Chik'n Patties Original or Italian Herb

-- Veggie Corn Dogs

Amy's
Enjoy its:

-- Soy Cheese Pizza

-- Breakfast Burrito

-- Texas Veggie Burger

-- Macaroni and Soy Cheeze

-- Brown Rice and Vegetable Bowls

Tofu Cooking and Buying Tips

Tofu (pronounced TOE-foo) may be a more recognized name for soy, but many cooks are wary of it. Yet this versatile ingredient can take on almost any flavor.

Buying Tofu:

Tofu is widely available in supermarkets, often in the produce or dairy section. It's available in different textures (silky, firm, extra-firm) and flavors or in a seasoned, ready-to-eat form.

Using Tofu:

Pressing: Because tofu absorbs the water it's stored in, many people find it easier to use when the water is pressed out. To do this, place the block of tofu between several sheets of paper towels and then place something with weight, like a heavy pan, on top of it. Let it sit for an hour or so and it's ready to use.

Marinating: Place the tofu and the marinade in a shallow dish and let it sit in the refrigerator, either for a few minutes or up to overnight.

Tip: Thin marinades will penetrate the tofu much faster than thick marinades.

Storing Tofu:

If you only use part of a packet of tofu, what do you do with the rest? Follow these steps:

1) Drain the liquid that came in the original packet.

2) Place the tofu in a container deep enough to hold the remaining tofu with a little room to spare at top.

3) Cover the tofu with water, then close the container and place it in the refrigerator.

4) Change the water daily and use within five to seven days. To freeze tofu, remove it from the package, drain the water, and wrap it in plastic or foil. It can be frozen for up to five months.

Tip: Freezing tofu turns it beige and gives it a firmer, chewier texture.

Tofu and Eggplant

Use 16 ounces of firm tofu in this vegetarian take on meat and rice. You'll need just 30 minutes to put it together.

Hoisin-Tofu Lettuce Wraps

This is fun-to-eat finger food (a twist on some higher-fat restaurant appetizers) featuring firm tofu, pine nuts, shredded carrots, and Asian-inspired seasonings.

Cooking with Tempeh

Tempeh (pronounced tem-PAY) is a simple way to ease into using soy as a meat substitute in your favorite recipes. Tempeh can be marinated, baked, steamed, sauteed, or broiled.

Buying: Tempeh comes in one solid piece, often called a cake. It can be made with just soy or a mix of soy and grains. It's usually found in your grocer's refrigerator or freezer case. Different varieties are available, including pre-seasoned tempeh.

Using: Many people like to marinate tempeh. To do so, put in a shallow dish and cover with the marinade. Because it's fairly solid, it's best to marinate tempeh in the refrigerator overnight.

Cooking: The firm texture of tempeh makes it easy to work with. Just cut it into sticks or cubes and fry, bake, steam, boil, or grill it.

Tip: Some people find tempeh to be bitter. To reduce the bitterness, steam or blanch the tempeh in an inch of boiling water for about 10 minutes, then prepare as desired.

Storing: Store in the package in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Tempeh can be frozen for several months.

Tempeh Cobb-Style Salad

Add soy to your healthy salad with this delicious skillet-cooked tempeh topped with homemade dressing and vegetables.

Edamame-Chicken Stir-Fry

This Asian-inspired dish features 1 cup of edamame paired with chicken breast, hoisin sauce, red pepper, carrots, and rice. A dash of reduced-sodium soy sauce adds a savory finish.

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