Adding Soya Products To Your Diet: Milk, Tofu, Tempeh, TVP or Soya Yoghurt?
Are you intrigued by the potential health benefits of soya based products? You may well have read many newspaper articles in recent years, many of them touting the allegedly amazing health benefits to be had as a result of adding greater quantities of soya products such as soya flour, soya drink, tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein or soya yoghurt to your diet. On the other hand, there appear to be almost as many articles available on the subject of the dangers to which you may expose yourself as a result of doing the exact same thing!
But, irrespective of the ongoing debbate, maybe you've already decided that you want to add more soya foods to your regular everyday diet. What products should you go for if you decide you do want to consume more of this protein-rich staple food?
Fancy Soy Products
Certainly one of the easiest soya products to add to your diet must surely be soya 'milk', especially if you're keen on partaking of a hot beverage on a regular basis. A quick splash of the off-white milky stuff, and you've just ameliorated the bitterness of your tea or coffee, and in addition added some beany goodness to your diet!
Soya yoghurt is also an amazingly easy product to incorporate into your daily routine. Of a very similar texture to 'normal' cows', goats' or sheep's milk yoghurt, the unsweetened version is rather less sweet than the animal equivalent, probably due to the lack of lactose from animal-derived milk. Its bland, pleasant, slightly beany flavour makes it a terrific addition to both sweet and savoury dishes. There are also lots of different flavoured soya yoghurts e.g. fruit, honey or coconut (yes!) yoghurt. Well worth trying out!
Some people are a little apprehensive at the prospect of adding tofu to their diet or cooking with it. This may be due to an unfamiliarity with Asian cuisines, or uncertainly as to how to go about preparing, cooking and baking with soya bean curd in order to produce tofu dishes. However, with the aid of an appropriate vegetarian or Asian cuisine cookbook, and perhaps equipment such as cheesecloth and weights for 'pressing' curd, then it's a task that can be much simpler than you might think.
In terms of how you might use it, tempeh is a product that has much in common with tofu, although it is often less easily sourced and may well be less recognisable. Consisting of whole beans bound together into a cake by the growth of a culture such as rhizopus oligosporus, the cake can be cubed, sliced, fried, marinated, stewed – really, the ways you can creatively enhance your diet and culinary skills with it is endless! I particularly enjoy it sliced and fried in a sandwich, giving a slightly bacon-like texture and experience. And that's surely something every vegan or near-vegan misses a whole lot! (Is fakin' bacon ever really the same?)
TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is probably one of the soya products that is the most instantly familiar for most of us. This may be largely due to its addition as an economical, 'stretching' ingredient in mince-based school dinners! Whatever the unfortunate associations due to this, TVP can be a versatile and useful addition to numerous savoury dishes, whether in malted or plain forms, or chunks or mince. Shepherd's pie, using some soaked and fried TVP, and a good splash of Worcestershire sauce: nothing wrong with that!
This isn't intended as a comprehensive list of all the soya based products out there on the market. (That would certainly also have to include frozen edamame beans or spicy wasabi soy nuts, soya cream substitutes and soya desserts at the very minimum.) But maybe it'll help you get started adding some delicious soya goodness to your daily diet!