Soy Foods Quick Starters

Whenever someone asks about eating healthier, I’m quick to tell them about soyfoods. And then I get that funny look . . . the one that says “Are you crazy?! Soyfoods? I can’t eat that strange stuff!”

Well, soyfoods are strange no longer. They have quickly become a regular part of many people’s diets. And with all the new research showing positive health effects of soyfoods, it behooves the rest of us to make soyfoods a part of our diets, too.

I love to tell skeptics that if I can do it, then ANYONE can! I have very basic Midwestern food tastes, yet I’ve found adding more soyfoods to my eating plan is convenient and tasty. Soyfoods aren’t time and labor intensive; in fact, they can be real timesavers for quick and easy meals and snacks. Just add soymilk, tofu, meat alternatives and soy flour to your grocery list today, pick them up during your next visit to the supermarket, and soyfoods will be a part of your diet before you know it!

Here’s how I enjoy them every week…

Soymilk in the Morning

I always keep a container of soymilk in the refrigerator and several times a week I use it instead of regular milk. I don’t drink it straight from a glass because I prefer the flavor of milk I grew up with. Instead, I like to use soymilk with other foods, mixing it with a powdered instant breakfast packet, for instance. I also pour soy milk over my dry cereal once or twice a week.

Soymilk is easy to find in the specialty sections of large supermarkets. It usually comes in plain, vanilla (my favorite) or chocolate flavors. I recommend low-fat varieties. Be sure to check to they are fortified with calcium.

Stir Fried Tofu

What did we do before those frozen meal starters were created?! I love those bags of vegetables, sauce and rice or noodles. Not only are they one of the best timesavers ever, but adding tofu is a snap. Along with chunks of chicken, beef or pork, try adding some cubes of firm tofu. Sometimes I even enjoy a meatless stir fry and use all tofu chunks in place of meat or poultry. Firm or extra firm tofu works best in stir fry dishes.

Leery of tofu taste? Just remember tofu takes on the flavors of whatever it’s mixed with; that’s why adding it to these meal starters works so well for even the pickiest eaters!

Meatless Hamburgers

At least once a week I look forward to my all-vegetable, soy protein burger on a big sesame seed Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato and lots of lowfat mayo and dijon mustard. Having one of these garden burgers or grillers (there are numerous names for these patties) is one of the quickest ways I know to enjoy a hamburger without the meat, but with all the great health benefits of soy protein. Nearly every supermarket today has at least one variety of these patties in the freezer case. Whether you like the plain or southwestern flavor, just keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to eat, then heat in the microwave for 2 or 3 minutes each. Talk about fast! Sometimes I even make a cheese gardenburger.

Delightful Tofu Dips

Even though dips made with tofu require one extra step – blenderizing the tofu – I think they are worth the effort. Once you’ve blenderized the tofu in a food processor or blender, just add your favorite dry flavoring packet, like ranch dressing, onion soup mix or taco seasoning. Then serve this delicious treat with your favorite low fat tortilla chips, potato chips, or fresh vegetables. Using silken tofu to replace sour cream in any dip recipe is super easy – just keep several boxes of the soft or firm tofu on hand. This type of tofu is easy to find in most large supermarkets and doesn’t need refrigeration until after it’s opened. (Use firm tofu if you like a thicker dip).

Quick Breads with Soy Flour

Trying to figure out how to use all that extra zucchini from your garden? Bake a loaf of zucchini bread . . . and make it with some soy flour! Soy flour is easy to add to ALL quick breads, plus it adds moisture and a soy protein boost. Just find your favorite quick bread recipe and replace one-fourth of the total flour with soy flour. (Soy flour has no gluten, which is necessary for structure in baked goods, so you shouldn’t replace more than 1/4 of the total flour called for in the recipe.)

My favorite zucchini bread recipe calls for 2 cups all-purpose flour, so I use 1/2 cup soy flour and 1 1/2 cups regular flour. You will never notice a difference, but your body will! I’ve also used soy flour in banana bread, pumpkin bread and strawberry bread, and my friends have raved about them all.

Soy flour is available in nearly all supermarkets now, either in the specialty section or right there with the other flours. I like to buy the 24 ounce bags of soy flour and keep them in the freezer once opened.

As you can see, blending soyfoods into your regular diet is easy. Make a note to try some. You will be glad you did.