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What to do with Soy

Jessica Kovarik, RD, LD, Extension Associate, University of Missouri Extension


Soy contains high-quality protein, heart-healthy fiber, and is low in fat and cholesterol. In fact, these are a few of the reasons why the Food and Drug Administration approved the healthy claim “diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

In addition to soy’s heart-health benefits, adding a soyfood to your diet can also supplement or replace traditional protein foods, such as meat, in your diet. Soy protein is considered a complete protein, just like animal protein. Unlike animal protein, it contains less calories and fat, plus it contains fiber.

Another reason some people turn to soy is because allergies prevent them from enjoying certain foods. For example, there are an increasing number of soy products available to replace dairy in your diet. Foods such as soy cheese, ice cream and milk are becoming more mainstream in grocery stores.

Whatever your reason to include more soy in your diet, there are many ways to enjoy soyfoods. Soynuts, soy burgers, soy yogurt and other similar products are becoming popular, but there are some lesser-known products such as soycrisps, soybeans, tofu, tempeh and miso available on grocery shelves.

Substituting a soy product in place of a more traditional item or ingredient is an easy way to consume more soy protein. For instance, having soy burgers on hand are great for last-minute meals. To lower fat and cholesterol in a dish, add soy-based veggie crumbles to a dish instead of some or all of the ground meat in a favorite recipe. A great snack that’s easy to pack is a handful of soynuts.

Stores are also beginning to carry soy-based dairy products such as soy yogurt, soy cream cheese, soy ice cream and soy milk. These products not only have the benefits of soy, but are good for those who are lactose intolerant. Soy does not contain calcium, so look for calcium-fortified products to get benefits of both dairy and soy products.

Still want more ideas? Check out the ideas below to learn how to use new soyfoods.


How often do you eat soybeans? Like a lot of beans, soybeans are available dried or canned. Dried soybeans may take a little preparation, but both dried and canned soybeans can be a great addition to your dinner table.

When preparing dried soybeans, first remove any debris or damaged beans. Next, soak the dried soybeans in a saucepan with two to three cups of water per cup of beans. Boil the beans for two minutes. Once boiled, remove the beans from the stove and cover. Let the beans cool for two hours. Drain the beans before cooking.

Soybeans can be cooked by adding two to three cups of water per cup of beans so that the liquid is about one to two inches above the beans. Once again boil the beans. Next, reduce to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Simmer the beans for one to one-and-a-half hours so that the beans become tender. Salty or acidic seasonings should be added after the soybeans are cooked to keep the beans from becoming tough.


The next time you want something salty and crunchy, try soycrisps. Soycrisps can be a healthier choice than potato chips and contain soy protein. They are similar in appearance to ricecakes and come in a variety of flavors. Try finding them in the snack aisle at your grocery store.


When making your favorite recipe, try substituting some of the regular flour with soy flour. This is a quick way to increase the amount of protein in your diet and increases the nutritional value of your homemade products.


Tofu, which is soybean milk curd, packs all the nutritional value of soy in a form that is very versatile. Although tofu might look plain, it takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with or added to, making it a great addition to many dishes. Adding tofu to flavorful recipes increases the nutritional value and can give an old recipe a new twist. Tofu comes in different forms or consistencies: soft, silken, firm and extra firm.

Soft tofu is great for blending into recipes or using in soups. Try adding soft tofu to smoothies and sauces. Silken tofu has a creamy texture and is best in pureed recipes. Try substituting silken tofu for mayonnaise or yogurt in a recipe. Soft tufu can be scrambled together with your favorite vegetables like an omelet. Try adding turmeric, a spice, to make the dish look more yellow, like eggs. Or wrap the tofu and vegetables in a tortilla and add black beans and salsa for a new twist on burritos.

Firm and extra firm tofu are higher in protein and best used when cut into cubes and grilled. For instance, you can use tofu instead of or in addition to grilled chicken when stir-frying vegetables in your favorite seasonings. Or you can grill cubed tofu and add it with your other salad toppings.


A fermented soy product with a nutty taste, tempeh is high in protein and absorbs the flavors of the foods it is prepared with. You can find tempeh in the freezer or refrigerated section of your grocery store. When selecting tempeh, avoid blocks that contain pink, yellow or blue discoloration, as this is a sign of over fermentation. Do note, however, that tempeh may contain black or gray spots. After purchasing tempeh, it may be refrigerated for up to ten days or wrapped and stored in the back of the freezer for several months.


Soybeans still in the pod are called edamame and can be found in the freezer section of your grocery store or with other fresh produce. Edamame can be cooked and served in the pod as a side dish or snack. Some edamame comes slightly salted and can be cooked in the microwave. Other packages may need to be boiled for approximately 10 minutes (you can use slightly salted water if you prefer).


When making soup, try using hatcho miso, which is a salty fermented soybean paste with a buttery texture. You can find miso in a variety of colors, from white to brown. The lighter the miso paste, the less salty and more mellow the flavor. Lighter misos are typically used for soup, dressings and light sauces. Darker miso tends to taste saltier and have a more intense flavor and is better suited for heavy foods. Whatever the type of miso, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year in a tightly sealed container. In addition to soups, miso can also be spread onto sandwiches, used in marinades, mixed into dressings and or drank instead of your daily cup of joe.


For a handy soyfood guide, use the chart below. There are many more uses for each soyfood than what is listed below, so don’t be hesitant to try something new! With a little creativity, you just might find your newest favorite dish.


Soyfood: Use like: Try this:
Soy cream cheese Cream cheese Spread on your bagel
Soymilk Dairy milk Enjoy in your cereal, in recipes or to rehydrate
Soy cheese Dairy cheese Add to your favorite dish, such as a salad, pizza or burrito
Soy yogurt Dairy yogurt Blend frozen fruit, honey, soy yogurt and milk (dairy or soy) to make a smoothie
Soy ice cream Dairy ice cream Top with your favorite fruit
Soy burger crumbles Ground beef or turkey Use in chili or in tacos
Soybeans Beans Use soybeans when making chili, soup or stew
Soy flour Flour Replace some or all of the flour in a recipe with soy flour
Tofu Meat, beans, protein Soft:

Spread on sandwiches, blend in smoothies or soups

Extra firm/firm:

Add to stir-frys or grill to put in salads

Tempeh Meat, protein Broil to use in a Reuben sandwich or crumble to use as ground beef in spaghetti
Edamame Side dish, added into a favorite recipe Pop in the microwave and enjoy from the pod for a snack
Miso Soups base, dressing, drink Spread on a piece of bread with tahini on another slice and top with sliced avocado; use dried miso soup packets as an on-the-go coffee substitute; mix miso, olive oil, flaxseed oil, ginger and garlic for an Asian dressing

Looking for more information about the health benefits of soy? Then read The Facts About Soy.





April is Soyfoods Month. Retrieved January 4, 2008 from


Tackling Tofu. Retrieved January 4, 2008 from


Tips on Tofu. Retrieved January 4, 2008 from


WHFoods: Miso. Retrieved January 7, 2008 from


WHFoods: Soybeans. Retrieved January 7, 2008 from


WHFoods: Tempeh. Retrieved January 4, 2008 from


WHFoods: Tofu. Retrieved January 4, 2008 from



Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








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