As a mom and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I’m always trying to think of creative ways to add a few more nutrients to my family’s meals. And let me tell you, that’s not always an easy task, but I’ve managed to come up with a couple of techniques. One of those techniques includes adding soy protein at mealtimes.
What is Soy?
Soy is a high-quality protein that is part of the legume family. The protein found in soy foods provides nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Protein is vital to the human body to function and grow adequately. As protein needs evolve and change throughout the lifespan, soy protein can serve as an excellent choice.
Is Soy Good for You?
This is a common question that I receive almost daily—and the answer is, Yes! Not only is soy a nutritious food choice, but it provides several nutritional benefits, including folate, potassium, fiber, iron, and zinc, and the quality of soy protein is similar to animal protein and higher than the quality of nearly all other plant proteins. Studies suggest that soy protein and isoflavones can protect against heart disease, osteoporosis, and reduce menopause symptoms.
Soy foods can also help children meet their nutritional needs, which supports healthy growth and development. Research suggests the introduction of soy foods at an early age may decrease the chance of breast cancer later in life. It’s also a budget-friendly way to add more plant-based foods and protein into your family’s diet, making it a good choice for the whole family.
Ways to Incorporate Soy Protein
Soy protein is extremely versatile and has provided the plant protein base for meat and milk alternatives for quite some time. You can choose to use it as an alternative or you can pair it with meat and dairy products for an extra boost of nutrients. Let’s look at a few common soy-based foods and the best ways to prepare them:
-Tofu is made from soybean curd, and it’s similar to cheese in texture. It’s a source of calcium and iron, and it’s used as the main ingredient in a variety of dishes. Tofu can be prepared in a variety of ways—it can be stir-fried, baked, grilled, or used in your favorite smoothie recipes.
-Tempeh is a soy-based product that’s made by fermenting cooked soybeans and then forming the mixture into a firm, dense cake. Many versions also contain grains, beans, and additional flavorings. Like tofu, tempeh can be prepared several ways. Try cutting it into slabs and cooking it on the grill or cutting it into cubes and pairing them with your favorite breakfast dish.
-Edamame is made from green soybeans that haven’t matured just yet. They can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, steaming, microwaving, and pan-frying. The edamame pods can be seasoned, or the seasoning can be added once the soybeans are removed from the pods. Edamame can be enjoyed as a quick snack, or it can be added to your favorite casserole dish.
For more information about soy protein, visit https://sniglobal.org
This post is in collaboration with the Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI) Global, an organization leading
the way in soy and health research and education, and U.S. Soy.