Chef Essig's Featured Item of the Week = April is National Soy Month
We made it!
The coldest months are behind us, and flowers are starting to peek out of the ground. The days are not only getting longer, but they're getting warmer as well... much warmer!
That change in weather may have you thinking about shedding the winter layers (not just the clothes) and focusing on fitness. It is a great time of year to look at some lighter foods, get out and enjoy the warm days, and bring in summer on a healthy note.
To help you consider some lighter food options, I thought it was of interest that April is National Soy Foods Month. I know what you are thinking... "Oh great, here we go about the tofu thing again."
Soy is so much more than tofu.
In fact, soy is the second leading crop in the United Sates. According to the USDA, over 75 million acres were planted in 2011, producing over 3,000 million bushels totaling approximately $40.2 billion towards our economy. That amounts to a few hills of beans!
Not all those beans go into making tofu, though. The majority of soy goes into feeding livestock and producing oil for biodiesel or machinery. A smaller portion is used for human consumption. The product that ends up on the grocery store shelves can be found everywhere.
Soy is versatile because it can be turned into flour, oil, paste, milk, or a textured vegetable protein. These forms can be added to foods to increase its desirability. It has characteristics that can increase flavor, mouth feel, and texture in foods as well as increase nutritional value.
The next time you eat a breakfast bar or granola bar, see if it contains a form of soy. Many times soy can be added to foods to increase protein or soluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of carbohydrates and lowers glucose response. If this is incorporated into a healthy diet, it could help fight against type 2 diabetes.
Soy is low in fat, so by substituting that beef hamburger with a soy veggie burger (on occasion) you would help lower your overall cholesterol and blood pressure.
For those who are lactose intolerant, soy provides a great alternative beverage to dairy milk. Soy milk is lower in cholesterol and has a slightly sweeter taste. I drink both dairy and soy milk, and I enjoy both. The sweetness of the soy milk is refreshing and is also lower in fat and higher in protein. Drinking soy milk and a piece of fruit in the morning can make for a good breakfast.
Next time you are at the grocery store I would encourage you to look at how many different products are made with soy. Some have soy as an ingredient in the list, while others have soy as one of the main components... such as soy cheeses, yogurts, oil, spreads, milk, sausages, soy meats and just good old plain soy beans (also known as edamame). The beans themselves are a great addition to salads. Dining Services offers edamame on the salad bar (almost every day) and soy milk in all dining room locations.
Tofu is also available by request at the wok station, if you would prefer. It makes a nice change, and by changing out 2-3 meals a week with soy protein instead of animal protein, you can help to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and increase soluble fiber intake.
These are all good things as we get ready to trim down our layers and roll into summer.
For more information on National Soy Foods Month you can visit. http://www.soyfoodsmonth.org/
Here in Dining Services, "We Feed The Bears!"
Happy Dining from Executive Chef Essig!
Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA
(Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator)
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