NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


| Share

Soy - More than Beans?

Soy – More than Beans?


            Soy is a plant native to Asia and has been a staple in the Asian diet for more than

5,000 years. However, large-scale soybean cultivation did not start in the U.S. until around World War II. Today, the Midwestern U.S. produces about half of the world’s supply of soybeans. The popular bean is found in a wide variety of food products from tofu to infant formula, as well as nonfood products such as shampoo, diesel fuel and cosmetics.

            Soybeans are the only vegetable that contains all eight essential amino acids to make it a complete protein.  Edamame refers to soybeans that are harvested when still green and sweet. They are high in fiber and protein and have no cholesterol, contrary to meat products. Edamame can be found shelled or unshelled, frozen or fresh, and take little preparation. Simply boiling or roasting the beans for 15 minutes can create a tasty main or side dish to any meal.

            Another form of soybeans is Tempeh. Tempeh is an Indonesian-derived food that combines fermented soybeans with a grain such as rice to create a tender, chunky soybean cake. The cakes have a smoky, nutty flavor and serve a variety of uses, including in grilling or as additions to soups and casseroles.

            Miso is a another fermented soybean product that typically is mixed with rice to result in

a thick paste used for sauces, spreads and soups.  Lecithin is a product extracted from soybean oil. It commonly is used as an emulsifier in high-fat products and to promote stabilization, anti-oxidation, crystallization and spatter control. Tamari is a gluten-free soy sauce.

            Tofu is probably the most commonly known soy product. Tofu is a soft, creamy product made from curdling soy milk. Tofu is a naturally bland, high-quality protein that easily takes on the flavor of the food with which it is cooked. Tofu comes in different forms: soft, firm and silken. Soft tofu is best used in blending recipes such as in a smoothie. Firm tofu is great for holding its shape, such as in grilling or in a stir-fry. Silken tofu is used in creamier recipes, such as for replacing sour cream in a dip. Rich in protein, B-vitamins and calcium and low in sodium, tofu is an alternative to meat products.

            Soy milk is becoming more and popular. Soy milk is a fluid produced from soaking and straining soybeans. It can be found in shelf-stable liquid or shelf-stable dry powder form, or refrigerated in the dairy case at your grocery store. Plain, unsweetened soy milk is an excellent alternative to cows’ milk and offers high-quality protein and B-vitamins. Soymilk is used to create a variety of products including soy cheese and soy ice cream.

            Soybean oil is derived from the natural oil found in whole soybeans. Oil sold in grocery stores under the name “vegetable oil” usually is 100 percent soybean oil or a blend of soybean oil and other oils. Soybean oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats and naturally cholesterol free.

            Research indicates soy consumption can decrease LDL cholesterol moderately in humans. This is most beneficial when soy protein is substituted for animal protein in the diet.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the use of a health claim on the association between soy protein and the reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

            Dry soybeans need more preparation but are often less expensive than canned or frozen soybeans. Dry soybeans need to be soaked using the conventional or quick methods.

For the conventional method: Soak soybeans overnight or eight to 10 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly. For the quick soak: In large saucepan, bring soybeans and water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for an hour.

Berry Fusion Smoothie


½ c. plain soy milk ½ c. blueberries

½ c. apple juice 3 tsp. honey, to taste

½ c. raspberries ½ c. ice

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Serve chilled.

Makes one serving. Each serving has 240 calories, 2.5 g (grams) fat, 5 g protein, 54 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 70 milligrams sodium.


Crispy Edamame Bowtie Pasta


8 ounces bowtie pasta, preferably whole grain

3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 c. corn kernels

1 c. shelled edamame, thawed if frozen

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

2 medium carrots, shredded (about ½ c.)

a c. grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tsp. olive oil to prevent sticking; let cool. In a large bowl, toss the cooled pasta with the corn, edamame, bell peppers and carrots. Drizzle with the remaining 3 Tbsp. olive oil and toss to coat. Add the Parmesan; toss again and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 290 calories, 15 grams (g) fat, 10 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber and 150 milligrams sodium.

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.