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Soy Free Diet - Cooking Convenience Items for All (Cooking Spray, Margarine, Gum, Chocolate, etc.)
In today's society, it is becoming more evident that food allergies are on a rising trend. Much of this is likely occurring for a large variety of reasons. These may include genetic manipulation of particular foods, over-exposure to food products, lack of variety in one's diet or a combination of these. Stress-related factors can trigger life-long allergies to such foods as well.
Out of the eight most common allergens, soy tends to be the most overlooked of all. To the average individual, obvious sources of soy would include soy milk, tofu, soy sauce, edamame and various Asian dish items. Whilst society is very aware to the fact that these items obviously contain soy, some in Western Society would assume their soy intake very low when, in fact, it is often quite (not surprisingly!!) high. Many bread-based products contain an unfermented soy ingredient known as soy flour.This soy product is extremely high in protein and has to be avoided by individuals with soy allergies. Hence, cross contamination in other seemingly soy-free bread based products can also be of great concern to many individuals dealing with this condition, making it very difficult for one to find a safe bread variety.
Two less well-known source derivatives of soy amongst consumers include soy lecithin and soy oil, which are present in an enormous variety of foods. As tempting and easy as it may seem to deny or disbelieve the fact that these ingredients occupy so many made items today, individuals (especially food service providers) must be awake and aware to the fact that at least one of these two ingredients are used in virtually every convenience item on the market.
Soy Free Cooking Spray
Soy Free Margarine
More Soy Free Products
Cooking from Scratch
Unfortunately (therefore), it is fairly safe to say that for one to properly avoid soy, home-style cooking is a must! Please be aware that this, however, is tradition that has only been lost late in the last century, a time at which food allergies and intolerances began to rapidly grow on an ever-increasing trend.
Please be aware (when preparing meals) that in this day and age, although many base ingredients such as wheat flour, butter, milk, eggs and various fruits and vegetables are naturally soy free, it is possible for items to be contaminated from soy during production and manufacturing processes. Although most butter on the market is soy free, some manufacturers now include the additions of soy lecithin as a filler. Some fruits are also problematic due to farmers sometimes using a wax blend that includes soy oil.
The good news... There are ways around it! Indeed! To the best of my knowledge, soy was virtually non-existent less than a couple of centuries ago. Chocolate bars were made with pure cocoa butter (a much higher quality ingredient than soy lecithin), margarine was practically non-existent and bread certainly did not contain soy.
Certified organic fruit (for now) is a way to be free of soy (perhaps the farming industry may eventually add organic expeller-pressed soy oil to this product) but this does not seem to be a concern for the time being. This can vary between different parts of the world.
Careful reading of ingredient labels is an essential key to determining whether a processed food item contains soy. Unfortunately labelling laws with relation to soy can significantly vary from country to country. For those of you in and around countries with less strict labelling laws, look out for various terms used that may indicate the presence of soy or soy products.
Individuals with soy allergies, along with caterers, need to always be awake to the fact that various cooking convenience items/base ingredients almost always contain soy derivatives including soy lecithin and/or soy oil. These include (but are not limited to) soybean oil [aka vegetable oil], cooking spray, instant milk powders, instant coffee powder, margarine, herbal teas, chocolates and vegetable shortening. Pre-mixes (i.e. bread and cakes) are often problematic as well.
Remember, canola oil serves as a great alternative to vegetable oil and is cost-competitive. It's rather beyond me that so many businesses use blended vegetable oils to cook with, especially with the prevalence of soy allergies at this time. That being said, many are switching to canola oil at this time to overcome this concern. Some are even going toward rice bran oil.
Here, in Australia, the soy-allergic community is fairly lucky due to awareness of this common allergen concern within the food industry as well as the relevant authorities. Strict labelling laws ensure accurate information is declared to help consumers make informed choices. Additionally, there is also the fact that (though not mandatory), food manufacturers have been instructed to avoid contaminating products with ingredients that are not intended in the final product. Such guidelines have made finding soy and allergen-free food much easier. Even so, finding alternatives even here can be challenging. Whilst the use of soy oil in manufactured products is fairly slim, soy lecithin seems to be everywhere!
Slightly above is a list of base ingredients and alternatives for those looking toward convenience in cooking. Items include a soy free cooking spray, soy free margarine and soy free chocolate! Whilst I like to think these may serve as starting points for all around the world, I can only really talk from an Australian perspective where less soy is used than in some other parts of the world. I have included some items from other countries as well, however please feel free to post other findings below as there are many others out there that may be trying to locate similar information. Enjoy your diet!