Food Facts

TOFU is a cholesterol-free, low-sodium, dairy-free source of high quality protein. 150 g or 175 mL (3/4 cup) of tofu is listed as a serving in the “Meat and Alternatives” section of Canada’s Food Guide.

Also known as soybean curd, tofu is made by “curdling” fresh soymilk, much like cottage cheese is made from cow’s milk. It is probably the most consumed soy product in the world. It is white with a porous texture and a very light flavour. Tofu readily absorbs the flavours of marinades or other foods with which it is mixed.

To make tofu, first whole soybeans are soaked, then ground, cooked and finally strained. The final stage gives two products; soymilk, which is the liquid fraction, and okara, the solid fraction. A coagulant is added to the hot soymilk to form curds. The curds are then pressed into blocks to form tofu.

Tofu texture ranges from soft to extra firm. Soft or silken tofu is suitable for dips and creamed soups. Firm tofu is dense, solid and maintains its shape. It can be sliced or cubed and used in stews or crumbled to replace ground meat.

Medium firm and extra firm varieties are also available. Although tofu is usually vacuum packed, it is also available in bulk, dehydrated or frozen form. Fresh tofu has distinctive flavours, and should be eaten soon after purchasing. Packaged tofu should be used by the date printed on the package.

SOY BEVERAGES in their various forms are lactose-free and are probably the easiest soy products to add to your diet. 250 mL (one cup) of fortified soy beverage is listed as a serving in the “Milk and Alternatives” section of Canada’s Food Guide. As well as being enjoyed to quench your thirst, soy beverages can be used on your morning cereal, or substituted for low-fat dairy milk in most recipes. Soy beverages come in both shelf-stable aseptic cartons, or fully-enriched refrigerated varieties. These products are available in a wide variety of flavours, to suit every taste.

EDAMAME (‘beans on a branch’) are green soybeans, popular in Japanese cooking. They can be shelled before or after cooking. To prepare, steam them and serve tossed with a bit of salt, and butter to taste.

SOY-BASED NON-DAIRY PRODUCTS are important for lactose intolerant people. Frozen desserts, soy-based yogurts, cheddar-flavoured soy slices, and soy parmesan-style products are just a few dairy alternative products on the market. Similar to meat substitutes, there is a wide array of soy-based dairy alternative products available.

MEAT ALTERNATIVES range from ground meat-style crumbles, veggie dogs and burgers, to deli slices and flavoured chunks for stir-fries. If you haven’t tried a veggie burger or other soy-based meat alternatives lately, you don’t know what you’re missing! The quality, flavour and variety is amazing. These products are nutritious and can be cooked quickly, presenting a convenient way to prepare fast, healthy meals.

TEXTURED SOY PROTEIN (TSP), often called texturized vegetable protein, is 50 to 70% protein, and is made from defatted soy flour that is compressed and processed into granules or chunks. It is sold as a dried product. When rehydrated with boiling water, ground TSP has a texture similar to ground meat; chunk-sized pieces of TSP take on the consistency of stew meat or stir-fry chunks. To prepare TSP, combine equal amounts of boiling water and TSP and let stand for a few minutes to rehydrate. For extra flavour, use broth or salad dressing as the liquid. Ground TSP can be used to replace all the meat in spicy dishes such as chili or tacos, or use it to extend the protein content in meat loaves or burgers.

SOY FLOUR is made from roasted soybeans that have been ground into a fine powder. Soy flour can be used in small quantities in almost every baked product. However, because soy flour is gluten-free, it cannot entirely replace wheat flour. In bread recipes, try replacing 15% of the wheat flour with soy flour. Soy flour can also be used to thicken sauces and gravies.

MISO is a smooth, salty paste made of ground soybeans. Used extensively in Japanese cooking, it can take the place of salt and soy sauce in a recipe. Miso is generally added at the end of the cooking process. Stir it into soups just before removing from the heat. For a tasty instant soup, mix 15 mL of miso into 250 mL of hot water.

TEMPEH, a traditional Indonesian food, is a fermented chunky, tender soybean cake. It has a firm texture and a distinctive mushroom-like flavour. Tempeh can be marinated and grilled, or crumbled and added to soups, casseroles or chili.

SOYBEAN OIL is the world’s leading source of edible oil. It is low in saturated fat, rich in essential fatty acids, an excellent source of vitamin E, and like all plant fats, contains no cholesterol.

SOYA SAUCE is made from fermented, salted soybeans. Gourmet, low salt Canadian soya sauces are now available.

WHOLE ROASTED SOYBEANS are sometimes referred to as soynuts (although soybeans are actually legumes). They are a great snack food loaded with all
the benefits of soybeans. A 1/4 cup (50 mL) serving of roasted soy nuts contains 15 g of soy protein.

SOY BUTTER is made from roasted soybeans. It is similar to peanut butter, without the associated nut allergy concerns.

WHOLE DRY SOYBEANS are prepared and used in ways similar to other dried beans and peas. Soybeans must be soaked and cooked or roasted before being used in recipes. After they are cooked, they can be used in soups, stews, salads and your other favourite dishes.

DRY SOYBEANS can be purchased at bulk food stores, health food stores, and some supermarkets. If you are a soybean grower who wants to cook soybeans you have grown, all are edible, but the varieties with a white hilum are traditionally known as “food quality” beans. To store dry soybeans, place them in a tightly-sealed container in a cool, dry place. Cooked soybeans can be stored in their cooking water in air-tight containers in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, and then rinsed in a colander under running cold water before using. They can also be rinsed, drained, put in plastic containers and frozen. For added convenience, canned and frozen pre-soaked and cooked soybeans are also available. Simply rinse them well in a colander under cold running water to remove the insoluble starches that can cause indigestion, before using them in recipes.

454 g (1 lb) dry soybeans = 550 mL (2-1/2 cups) dry soybeans.
250 mL (1 cup) dry soybeans yields 625 – 750 mL (2 1/2 – 3 cups) soaked, cooked soybeans

To prepare for cooking or roasting, wash soybeans thoroughly and drain. For every 250 mL (1 cup) of dry soybeans, add 750 mL (3 cups) cold water and 5 mL (1 tsp) salt and soak using one of the following methods.

Soak overnight or for 8-10 hours. Drain. Beans soaked using this method will keep their shape better and have a more uniform texture.

In a large saucepan, combine the dry soybeans and water over high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 1 hour; drain.

After soaking, cook the whole soybeans using one of the following methods:

Put soaked soybeans in a deep heavy saucepan with enough fresh water to cover. Add 5 mL (1 tsp) salt and 30 mL (2 tsp) vegetable oil. Cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 hours or until tender. Add more liquid during cooking if necessary. Cool.

To a crock pot, add soybeans, hot fresh water to cover, 5 mL (1 tsp) salt and 30 mL (2 tsp) vegetable oil. Cook on high heat for 6-8 hours or until tender. Cool

To a pressure cooker, add soybeans, fresh water and 30 mL (2 tsp) vegetable oil. Cook 20 minutes at 15 lbs pressure. Cool.

Roasted soybeans are delicious and nutritious as snacks. Leave them whole, or crush them to add to cakes, cookies and other baked goods. For snacking, sprinkle them with some salt and other seasonings to taste, immediately after roasting. Soak them first (see methods above), and then roast them using one of the following methods.

Spread soaked soybeans in a single layer on a tea or paper towel and pat dry. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with vegetable oil. Transfer the dried soybeans to this sheet. Roast soybeans in a 180˚C (350˚F) oven for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned and crunchy. Stir or shake the pan frequently for even roasting, and to prevent sticking.

Pat dry soaked soybeans. Roast a single layer of soybeans in a lightly greased electric skillet at 180˚C (350˚F) for 40-50 minutes or until lightly brown and crunchy. Stir occasionally.

Spread soaked soybeans in a single layer on a tea or paper towel and air dry for 1 hour. Place 250 mL (1 cup) soybeans in frying basket and cook 8-10 minutes in a deep fat fryer at 180˚C (350˚F). Remove the soybeans from fat and drain on paper towels.