Soy Steps Up to the Plate
Soy has been a source of protein in other cultures for centuries. With today's product innovations, soy protein now stands to play a starring role in the United States. Rich in protein and low in fat, soy products and soy-enhanced foods bring nutritional and functional benefits that can help save the day for school meal planners. As you work within your budget to meet nutritional guidelines and keep our students coming back, soy may be the solution you've been looking for.
The Skinny On Soy
Think of soy as a nutrition-packed way to lower the fat content of your students' favorite foods. Using soy ingredients and soy-enhanced foods helps you plan meals that are low in fat and cholesterol, and rich in vitamins and minerals.
The good news is that you can add these nutritional benefits quite easily. Consider this example, using a traditional school meal favorite - spaghetti sauce. Replacing 30 percent of the ground beef in the USDA's standard meat sauce recipe with hydrated soy protein cuts fat from 10 grams to 7 grams (a 30 percent decrease).
Soy protein equals the quality of animal protein and, as an added benefit, provides a lower-fat, nutritious product your students will love, in foods ranging from luncheon meat to lasagna.
As many districts move to more prepared foods, it's good to know that your meat processor can add soy protein to many meat products, meeting your fat reduction and convenience needs.
Passing The Kid Test
Today's new soy-enhanced foods are low-fat, cost-effective and get rave reviews from students. Made possible with the latest soy processing technologies, soy-enhanced meats have a moist, mouth-pleasing texture. Because soy protein takes on the flavor of the food it is mixed with, soy can enhance beef, pork, poultry, fish and vegetarian products improving the nutrition profile and quality.
What's more, soy-enhanced foods hold up to the ultimate test - the kid test. In menu tests of 17 soy-enhanced foods with more than 3,000 students, more than two-thirds rated soy-enhanced food as a 4 or 5 on a 5-is-best scale. Equally important, two-thirds ate the entire soy-enhanced entree, and said they would choose it again.
Soy protein becomes an even more practical solution to the meal-planning puzzle when you consider costs. Using soy protein makes sense because it lowers fat content cost-effectively - providing a great tool for keeping fat to 30 percent or less of total calories.
To see how soy can help contain costs, compare the price of soy protein with lean animal protein. Hydrated soy protein costs range from 20 cents to 31 cents per pound compared to an average of 95 cents per pound for lean ground beef or nearly $2 per pound for chicken. If lean beef and hydrated soy protein are combined in a 70:30 ratio, the average cost is 74 cents per pound - an estimated cost reduction of more than 20 percent. With the higher raw material cost for chicken, the savings can be even greater.
If you use Nutrient Standard Menu Planning (NSMP), you can save even more by serving all-soy entrees. If you're worried students won't go for that much soy, consider this: In menu tests of all-soy dishes, including Sloppy Joes, chili and taco mixes, 73 percent of students rated the foods as "good" or "excellent" and 77 percent said they would select the item again.
A Winning Combination
Today's soy protein products are easy to use and can be added to virtually any meat product to enhance juiciness, reduce fat and maintain costs. If it is a solution you seek, then take what soy has to offer and be confident that students will keep coming back for more meals, made better with soy.