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Soyfoods on Your Table

Updated on August 21, 2011

Soyfoods have been recognized recently not only as healthy vegetarian foods rich in protein and many other nutrients, but as a possible contributor to the prevention of many diseases. Studies have shown that soyfoods can help to reduce the occurrence of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast cancer, as well as the rates of heart diseases due to lower blood cholesterol levels. Soyfoods, which are rich in phytoestrogens, are also considered helpful in relieving night sweat and hot flashes in menopausal women. Soyfoods are main dishes in countries like China and Japan for a long time. They are gaining popularity in Western countries recently, and are even being recommended by physicians to be included on your table.

Basically, there are several types of soyfoods that can be included in a “typical” Western meal, among them are textured soy protein (usually called textured vegetable protein, or TVP), soy flour, soymilk and tofu.

Soy flour

Soy flour is often used as an ingredient in baked products. It is used mainly to increase the protein content of the foods. When added to bread, it should be used in small amounts to avoid reducing the effect of high gluten flour. It can also be used cookies, muffins, or cakes to promote tenderness and delay the development of staleness. soy flour should be stored in the freezer to avoid becoming rancid.


TVP is a nontraditional soy product made from soybeans. It is made from soy flour from which the fat has been removed. It is a dried, granular product that can be used as a ground beef replacement or supplement. TVP must be rehydrated before using. It is prepared by pouring 7/8 cup of boiling water over one cup of dry TVP and letting it stand for five minutes. One of the simplest ways to use TVP is to add it in tomato-based dishes that call for ground beef, such as spaghetti sauce, chili, and the many other dishes.

TVP will keep at room temperature for several months if stored in a tightly sealed container. It is available in most natural foods stores and in the bulk-food section of some grocery stores. TVP can be high in fat depending on the soy flour it is made from, So it’s often a good idea to check the product label before buying TVP to make sure it is made from defatted soy flour.


Soymilk is a beverage made from soybeans. It is very popular in some East Asian countries and is usually served hot and sweetenedin local restaurants or sold in grocery stores. Because soymilk contains about the same proportion of protein and fat as cow’s milk, it is usually used to replace cow’s milk as a beverage. Soymilk can readily be used without making any radical dietary changes. It can be used as a soup flavored with soy sauce and vegetables, or in baked goods and cream-type sauces, or over breakfast cereal. It can also be blended with frozen bananas, berries, or other fruit in milk shakes. Soymilk can also be added to pancake and muffin recipes.


Tofu is widely used as a common food ingredient in China and Japan. Tofu is made by adding a salt to soymilk until the milk curdles. The curds are then pressed into cubes. Tofu is rich in protein and contains relatively less fat, it is considered by vegetarians as a perfect alternative for dairy products. Tofu can be divided into several different types with varied ways in cooking. Typically, there are firm, dried, soft or silken (a custard-like product) tofu.

The simplest way to use tofu is to stir fry it with fresh vegetables, which makes a quick, delicious main dish. When frozen, tofu can become porous, making it easy to absorb the flavors foods and spices it is cooked with. Soft tofu can be flavored to make cream-type soups, dips, or puddings. It can also be blended with cooked pureed potatoes or spinach to create soups. Tofu can also be used in delectable desserts. When blended with melted chocolate, it can be used as a pie filling; tofu can also substitute cheese in baking to make delicious cheese less cheesecake


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