Looking for a simple way to eat healthy?
Try incorporating soy foods into your diet. Two decades ago, soy food meant soymilk and tofu – and not much else. But today, there is an endless supply of soy products and plenty of recipes available that please even picky eaters.
“Soy foods are very high in protein and low in saturated fat, so they help you lower the amount of fat in your diet while giving you a protein boost,” says Drew Guiney, marketing and communications director for the Nebraska Soybean Board. “Over time, using soy foods in recipes can help you lower your levels of bad cholesterol as well.”
Nebraska ranked fifth in the nation for soybean production in 2014, and soybeans are an important part of the state’s agriculture industry. The Nebraska Soybean Board is working to raise awareness among consumers about soy foods and their health benefits.
“We don’t expect people to switch from meat to soy, but we do want them to know that soy protein can be used in many different ways,” Guiney says. “Soybean protein concentrate is a protein powder that can be added to recipes. Another big one is edamame, which is a young soybean harvested earlier than typical soybeans. And black soybeans are a great replacement for black beans.”
Tofu is a soy ingredient that can be used in many ways. One way is to blend tofu in a food processor and fold it in with other ingredients.
“Tofu does a great job of replacing full fat such as cream cheese in a recipe,” Guiney says. “You can take out half of the cream cheese, replace it with tofu, and you have added health benefits. The nice thing is tofu takes on the flavor of whatever dish you are making. You still get the cream cheese flavor but with a lot less fat.”
The Bean Team
One of the ways the Nebraska Soybean Board is raising awareness about soy food is through its consumer linkage program called The Bean Team. It is made up of student ambassadors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and they travel to grocery stores in the Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island areas to provide shoppers with recipes and soy food samples.
Karen Brokaw, owner of Brokaw Marketing Inc., has been organizing The Bean Team since it was created in1997.
“I recruit college students – especially those studying dietetics and nutrition – who are passionate about healthy lifestyles and eager to talk with consumers,” Brokaw says. “We set up demos in grocery stores and prepare two recipes to have samples available. We also hand out brochures on the health benefits of soy foods.”
The Bean Team has experienced an overwhelmingly positive response from shoppers.
“A lot of people are shocked because they didn’t know soy foods tasted so good,” Brokaw says. “Other people tell us they’ve taken our recipes home and made them for their families. Our spinach dip is one of our most popular recipes – instead of sour cream, we use tofu and light mayo, and no one can taste the difference.”
The Bean Team’s Three Bean Salad is also popular. It is a mixture of black soybeans, green edamame, garbanzo beans, red bell pepper and red wine vinegar.
“We serve the Three Bean Salad in a pretty glass bowl. It’s very simple to make and take to a gathering,” Brokaw says.
Smoothies made with soymilk, and cherry almond muffins made with soy flour, are other favorites.
“People appreciate that there is no cholesterol in soy, and the additional protein helps fill you up so you eat less,” Brokaw says.
For more information and recipe ideas, check out The Bean Team’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ beanteam.