Cheffy talks about Soy In this issue I am mainly going to offer some opinions, both pro and con about Soy and the Soy Industry as a whole. This is due to an increasing number of emails and letters I have received on soy consumption, soy vs. cancer, soy as a meat substitute etc. I have been an active consumer, cook and chef of soy products and an investigative source into soy for the better part of 15 years. Some of the information provided here is based on conversations with a couple of friends of mine that own and operate their own soy companies. Bruce Rose from ChinaRose Soyfoods in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Jon Kessler from Sunergia Soyfoods in Charlottesville, Virginia. Although the opinions voiced here are scientifically based, please keep in mind they are still opinions, please talk to a physician or contact one of the websites at the end of the newsletter for more specific information. Soy Versus Bad Food I am taking the stance in defending soy and soy products as a dietary supplement. Soy along with some other pulses, vegetables and grains have gotten a bad reputation primarily due to the practice of a growing number of companies that rely on genetically engineering their products. The tests and the long-term studies of genetically engineered products are inconclusive therefore I do not support their cause. I have read these different articles "Soy is this…" and "Soy is that…". My argument is simple. "Food Allergies Exist!" Not all foods agree with all people, there are kajillions of different allergies, mal-absorption syndromes and anomalies associated with all different kinds of foods. If you have concerns over any of these please consult a physician. A food allergy is no laughing matter and can quite possibly become fatal. As far as Soy being a bad food, I could inform you lima beans, apple seeds, and the pits of apricots and peaches contain cyanide or the sprouts from potatoes contain the toxin solanine, that parsley contains apiole and myristicin, poke salad and rhubarb leaves are lethal or chewing on a few nutmeg seeds can make you hallucinate. So… taking the food allergies out of the equation, I say that soy products are not bad foods. The truth of the matter is that most soy products are high in protein, contain no cholesterol and contribute a moderate balance of the three major fatty acids our body demands What is Soy? (Information and History) OK. Soy. Soya. The Soya Bean. Fake meat. Whatever you want to call it… The soya bean is classified as a pulse which is a leguminous plant whose seeds are used as a vegetable food. Pulses contain a high- energy value containing a large amount of protein and carbohydrates and are relatively low in water content. Because of the high source of protein and carbs it is an important part of the vegetarian diet. Unfortified soy products lack the amino acids that constitute it as a "complete" food, thus it is often served with meats, seafood, vegetables, pastas or grains to supplement and fortify the dish itself. Soybeans contains compounds called isoflavones (natural estrogens), which have many health benefits to our health and nutrition. Study after study has shown that soy is an amazing natural remedy that prevents and fights cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, menopausal symptoms and other chronic diseases. The Chinese "dadou" is said to have originated in Manchuria as early as the 2nd Century BCE and was introduced to Japan (called "daizu") somewhere around the 6th Century. Although its popularity was limited to its uses with the Chinese and Japanese cultural cuisines it was known in Europe by the 1600's. It was not until the early 1900's that its was a popular staple throughout Europe and the United States. Raw Soybeans as well as other legumes and pulses contain certain enzyme prohibitors that prevent the digestion of protein. They create chemical changing in the lining of the intestines that make it impossible for the intestines to absorb nutrients. Once the pulse is cooked these protease inhibitors are eliminated and make the beans safe and nutritious. Dried Soybeans come in a variety of colors that make for colorful and attractive dishes. Soybean Flour can easily be made using dried soybeans by grinding them in your coffee mill or spice grinder and then sifting out the larger pieces. Soy Flour contains twice the protein as regular flour and can easily be used as a substitute for wheat flour with the exception of baking and as a thickening agent. More about this later… Miso- I could write a book about Miso. For those of us that have had the opportunity to travel the Far East, we know that miso has a sort of cult following from village to village and country to country. Some even refer to some of the producers of miso as "the Miso Sensei", because not only are they masters of what they do but because they use methods of preparing this "magical" substance using techniques that are thousands of years old. Miso is a paste made by cooking soybeans and then fermenting the beans with salt in wooden tubs for one to three years. There are several forms of miso depending upon what grain added to the product (e.g., barley, brown rice, white rice, wheat to name a few). In general, the longer the miso is aged, the darker the color and stronger the flavor. Miso contains a large amount of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. However, unpasturized miso must be purchased in order to get the beneficial bacteria. Miso is particularly useful as an aid to improving digestion and the health of the intestinal tract. There is some scientific evidence that fermented products with beneficial bacteria can help to prevent some forms of cancer. Many people who are sensitive to fermented products can tolerate the use of miso without any problem. Miso is used in soups, sauces, dressings, stir fries, and spreads where only a small amount is necessary. Cheffy's latest culinary influence, Chef Bento, makes a killer Miso-based Demi-Glace used as a sauce for meats and poultry….mmmm Tempeh -- A cake of soybeans that is made by removing the hull of cooked, organic soybeans, mixing with a culture, such as the coagulant nigari and aging for a day or two. The culture helps hold the soybeans together in a cake form. It is common to find tempeh made with added ingredients such as vegetables, grains and various seasonings. Tempeh is high in protein and rich in calcium Tofu -- A white soybean cake made from cooked soybeans and nigari (magnesium chloride). Tofu contains a significant amount of protein and is rich in calcium. It is an easily digestable form of soy. Tofu is used in soups, stir fries, sauces, dressings, burgers, and many other types of dishes. One of the things I love about tofu is its neutrality of flavor, its absorbancy adheres to any of the flavors/seasonings added to the dish Nigari-Natural calcium sulfate (gypsum) and magnesium chloride (nigari) are the most common tofu coagulant used. They have been used for hundreds years in Japan and China. Nigari is composed mainly of magnesium chloride, but also contains other minerals found in sea water except most of the sodium chloride (sea salt). Gypsum is a naturally occurring calcium sulfate. Soy Milk- Soy milk is a liquid form of soy. It comes in Vanilla, Carob, Plain and other flavors. It is a great substitute for dairy milk, when substituting for regular milk I use equal proportions and when subbing for buttermilk I add a teaspoon of lemon juice per 2 cups. Officially, soymilk cannot be called soy milk due to the lack of dairy so they use soymilk as one word, call it soy drink among other things. Please consult a physician before supplementing a child's diet with soy milk, there is a good amount of conflicting information on the use of formulas etc. that are soy based so please ask your doctor.