Soy products are an excellent source of protein and they come packed with all the nine essential amino acids, important minerals and vitamins, dietary fiber, and much more. Soybean products are cholesterol-free, gluten-free, lactose-free. Not all soy is GMO and organic soy products are widely available in supermarkets and online e-shops. There are infinite varieties and types of soy products according to their origin, way of preparation, flavors, techniques, etc. If you don’t know where to start, here is a list of the most common and popular soy products to keep you in good shape and give that cow a break!
Listing of the most common soy products
Tofu is one of the most popular soy products and it is also known as bean curd. Tofu is prepared from curdling or coagulating fresh soy milk and then solidifying it. The product can have a silken, soft, firm, or extra firm texture and has a mild flavor. Tofu is widely used in Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine and there are infinite ways of cooking it. This soy product is an excellent source of protein (a 100 gr serving contains 8 gr of protein) and contains all nine essential amino acids. It comes packed also with iron and calcium and other important minerals and vitamins. Grill it, bake it, fry it, chop it, enjoy it!
Tempeh is a chunky soy product originating from Indonesia. Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans (sometimes mixed with other grains)and then pressed into a block. This product has a smoky and earthy flavor of nuts. Thanks to the fermentation process, it has a higher content of protein than tofu and it also contains dietary fiber and vitamins. A serving contains 15 grams of protein and a considerable part of the daily recommended minerals. Tempeh is low in sodium and carbs.
Edamame comes from the Japanese cuisine and it refers to the green, immature soybeans. These soybeans have a slightly sweet taste and soft texture. The way of preparation is boiling them in salted water for 15 min. Edamame can be served as a snack or appetizer and it is also used in soups and sweets. These green soybeans are very nutritious and are high in protein and dietary fiber. Edamame is a complete protein because it contains all the nine essential amino acids and it is an excellent alternative for those who want to reduce their meat intake. These unripe soybeans have no cholesterol and a low amount of carbohydrates. They have a low glycemic index and contain vitamin K, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and calcium.
Miso is another soybean product widely used in Japanese cooking as a traditional condiment. Miso is a salty paste made of fermented soybeans with salt and koji (Aspergillus oryzae). The mixture may sometimes contain also rice, barley, rye, seaweed, or other ingredients. The fermentation process may last between a month to a few years. Miso has a lower composition of protein and a high amount of sodium. As a fermented product, it contains vitamins B, K, and E, amino acids, and bacteria. There are three main types of miso: white (one-month fermentation), red (two or three years fermentation), and mixed miso. The brighter the color, the sweeter the taste is. Miso should never be eaten alone and when used properly with other foods, it can literally make miracles!
Soy milk is a plant-based product made from soybeans and filtered water. It is suitable for lactose intolerant people and it can easily replace milk in cooking or as a drink. The soya milk preparation starts with soaking and grinding the beans and continues with boiling and filtering the liquid. Soy milk is another great source of high-quality protein. One cup of soy milk contains 7 gr of protein. Fortified versions contain also added vitamin D and calcium and B12 to enhance its nutritional value. It is low in fat and carbs and of course, compared to dairy milk, it is cholesterol-free and with no lactose.
Kinako or roasted soybean flour
Kinako is mainly used in Japanese cuisine and it means roasted soybean flour. Kinako is made of finely ground soybeans and it has a distinctive sweet taste and aroma. It is an excellent gluten-free product that can be used in cooking as a replacement for wheat flour. Kinako adds extra protein to the food and gives delicious flavors. Roasted soybean flour is a great ingredient for sweets and desserts. Cookies, cakes, ice-cream, and even delicious smoothies (sweet protein). You definitely have to try it!
Okara (soy milk pulp)
Okara is the soy pulp made of the remaining particles after the production of soy milk and tofu. It is way too good and nutritional to be missing from our list. Okara is another gluten-free product that can be used in cooking, from stir-fries to stews and desserts. Vegan burgers will get so much better with a bit of okara! And if you are brave enough to prepare your own soy milk at home, then remember to grind the remaining particles into powder and use the final product for cooking. A good source of protein, dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, low in carbs and so much more!
- Soy Sauce:
- Tamari (only from soybeans, a by-product of miso)
- Shoyu (from soybeans and wheat)
- Teriyaki (soybeans with added sugar, vinegar and spices)
- Whole Soybeans
- Soy Nuts (whole soybeans after being soaked in water and roasted)
Try and see what works for you and remember to always choose organic. Here is why. Enjoy!