Want to put a little soy into your life? But not so much that it'll ruin your appetite? It's easier than you think, says Kim Galeaz, a registered dietitian and consultant with the Indiana Soybean Board.
Here are soy products that she uses and recommends:
"The plethora of tofu varieties is incredible," she says. "There are baked ones, smoked ones and flavored ones. Tofu is so versatile; you can use it in entrees, dips and desserts."
This bland product takes on the flavor of what it's mixed with. Galeaz mixes it with or without meat in frozen meal-starter vegetable packages. She also uses it in place of or to reduce the amount of sour cream and mayonnaise in dips. Sometimes she chops some up and puts it in chili along with ground beef.
Water-packed tofu can easily be frozen, thawed and used in a variety of recipes. Its texture, after being frozen, is a lot like meat. She's been known to shredit into Cajun stew.
* Soy flour.
You can substitute up to one-fourth of the total flour in a recipe with soy flour. Use only 15% soy flour if a recipe includes yeast. Soy flour can be incorporated into most existing recipes.
* Meat alternatives such as soy burgers or "crumbles."
"It's amazing how companies have worked to get these items tasty and at a point where people really do say, 'Okay, it's not a beef burger, but boy, this is really good.' "
* Soynut butter.
"It's comparable to reduced-fat peanut butter in terms of nutrition. It's a nice change from peanut butter for some people."
* Canned soybeans.
"Who wants to cook dried beans? Now you can go to the store and find canned soybeans, which are white or yellow, or the black beans."
They can be used in pasta dishes, soups and chili or even mixed with some grains and spices and served as soy burgers.
* Green sweet beans.
These immature green soybeans are now being marketed in a vegetable mix called Baby Broccoli Blend, from Freshlike. In some stores they're also available in bags by themselves for use in salads or other dishes.
* Soy cheese.
"It gives you the soy protein and isoflavones, and there are a whole slew of them, everything from cheddar to herb and spice flavors. A lot shred well and melt well and give a decent flavor."
* Soy beverage or "milk."
It doesn't taste like cows' milk but can be used anywhere milk is used. It comes in various flavors.
* Soy protein powder.
"I say to people wanting to use soy because of a very specific health need, who want to achieve the highest level of soy protein and isoflavones, your best and easiest way to get that high level is to go to soy protein powder."
A serving of it can provide 20 of the 40 grams/day of protein recommended to reduce cholesterol. It can be used in place of or in addition to powdered milk, or in breakfast drinks. Some people add it to oatmeal and fruit juices.
In comparison, a serving of tofu may give you 10 grams of protein; a cup of soy beverage, 6-8 grams; a serving of whole soybeans, up to 15 grams.
"These numbers are getting there, but they're not 40 yet. So when you eat that soy protein powder, two scoops may have 20 grams. So take that once a day and then eat other soyfoods to get your 40 grams of soy protein."
Don't give up on soyfoods if you don't like the taste of the first brand of, say, tofu or soy beverage you try, Galeaz says.
"Look around for different choices within a particular line if you're not pleased with one. You will eventually come across something you really like."