As families look for easy-to-prepare and affordable sources of protein, soyfoods are increasingly in the spotlight. The nutrition profile and versatility of this plant-based protein makes it an attractive mealtime solution, but how to cook and prepare soyfoods may have the average home cook stumped.
These days, soyfoods can be found throughout the supermarket, with protein-enriched bars, cereals and snacks becoming top sellers, followed closely by traditional soyfoods such as tofu and soymilk. But a 2013 study by Edelman Berland shows that when it comes to cooking with soyfoods, people are hesitant about the unknown.
“There’s plenty of ongoing research that illustrates the wide variety of nutrition benefits of eating more soy, but many people are intimidated by not knowing how to prepare soyfoods,” said registered dietitian and retail expert Barbara Ruhs, owner of Neighborhood Nutrition in Phoenix. “Most soyfoods don’t have very strong flavors, which is why they’re the perfect addition to most recipes and meals. My best advice is to just experiment and enjoy.”
It’s actually quite easy to incorporate tasty soy-based foods and beverages into your family’s meals and snacks. Soyfoods can be incorporated into everything from on-the-go snacks to comfort food, adding protein and cutting cholesterol for heart-health benefits in your favorite foods.
For example, tofu is so versatile you can use it instead of ricotta in lasagna or the cream in your pumpkin soup. These tips for cooking with soyfoods will help get you started:
- Use firm or extra-firm tofu for baking, grilling, sauteing and frying. For an even firmer, more meat-like texture, use a tofu press to squeeze out the moisture and allow the tofu to absorb marinade.
- When re-hydrated, textured vegetable protein (TVP), also known as textured soy protein, resembles cooked ground meat. Similarly, pre-cooked soy crumbles are perfect for chili, spaghetti sauce and tacos, and contain no saturated fat or cholesterol.
- Edamame, or young soybeans, are a fun, protein-rich snack to eat out of the shell when steamed, and can also be used instead of other beans in your favorite recipes.
- For sustained energy on-the-go, foods with soy protein such as protein bars, cereal, and shakes keep you feeling full longer.