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    Archive for the ‘soy’ Category

    Numbers Game: Answer

    crop05-6soybean0.2 percent of corn and soybeans grown in the United States are certified organic.

    The most ironic part?  The people consuming most of these genetically modified byproducts (mainly corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, and soy protein isolate) aren’t even aware they are eating them.

    Soybean consumption is not limited to vegetarians!  Most fast-food hamburger buns contain some sort of soy byproduct, and most fast-food french fries are cooked in soybean oil (or a combination oil that includes soybeans).

    Whole, organic corn and soybeans are not the issue.  After all, it is certainly possible to buy bags of frozen organic sweet kernel corn as well as organic canned soybeans (or organic edamame).

    Processed byproducts are the true red-flag-raisers.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Gardein

    crispy_tenders_295x35052I want to get your thoughts on Gardein, a faux chicken brand gaining popularity.

    The products taste good, but what do you think of them?  Healthy or overly processed?

    — Bev (Last name unknown)
    (Location Unknown)

    Gardein — short for “garden protein” — is the latest vegan chicken and beef alternative, available in refrigerated and frozen varieties.

    It is essentially a mixture of soy protein isolate, vital wheat gluten (AKA seitan), and, in most products, a melange of whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet, and kamut).

    I have tasted a few varieties.  The buffalo wings were overpowered by the accompanying mouth-burning spicy marinade, but I thought the seven-grain crispy tenders offered both a pleasant texture and flavor.

    Gardein falls into the “eat occasionally” category for me, though, mainly because most of the products offer quite a bit of sodium per serving (some of the serving sizes, as with the crispy tenders, can be laughably small).

    I am also slightly concerned that part of these products’ fiber content comes from isolated fibers rather than solely whole grains.  And, while highly- processed soy protein isolate is not the sole source of protein, it is one of the most prominent ingredients.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Vegan “Butter” and “Cheese”

    tumblr_l024ebWGmt1qzq14lo1_400I’d love to know your thoughts on Earth Balance “butter” and Daiya “cheese.” They seem relatively non-evil, but I defer to the experts.

    — Jennifer DiSanto
    (Location Unknown)

    Earth Balance spreads are popular among vegans, mainly as a butter substitute.  Depending on which variety they use, they can be used in baking or to top freshly baked garlic bread.

    I am not as worried about them as I am of some overly-processed faux-meat products for a variety of reasons:

    • Whereas it is feasible to eat two mega-processed soy burgers in one meal, most people consume small amounts of these spreads (i.e.: 1 Tablespoon over two slices of toast) at a given time
    • Unlike other butter alternatives, Earth Balance spreads are free of partially hydrogenated oils
    • Earth Balance offers soy-free spreads (for those who are choose to avoid soybean oil)
    • Earth Balance spreads are mainly a combination of different plant oils; it’s not as “Frankenfoody” as other products
    • Most of their spreads offer a fair amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids

    Daiya “cheese” in increasingly gaining popularity in the vegan community.  Let’s take a look at the ingredient list:

    Purified water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and/or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, inactive yeast, vegetable glycerin, natural flavors (derived from plants), xanthan gum, sunflower lecithin, vegan enzymes (no animal rennet or animal enzymes), vegan bacterial cultures, citric acid (for flavor), annatto.

    There is nothing about that ingredient list worth raving — or ranting — about.  I wouldn’t necessarily call this a nutritious product (it’s basically flours, oils, and thickeners), but it’s also not horrific.  I guess you could place this in the “meh” category for me.

    The only thing to keep in mind is that Daiya cheese offers a moderate amount of sodium per serving (250 milligrams per ounce, approximately fifty percent more than the same amount of cheddar cheese) and significantly less protein than dairy or soy-based cheeses (1 to 1.5 grams per ounce, as opposed to 7 grams).

    As far as vitamins and minerals go, Daiya offers vitamin B12 (a plus for those who are fully vegan!) but is not a good source of calcium (which, truly, isn’t a concern if one’s vegan diet is high in leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, or is otherwise fortified).

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    You Ask, I Answer: Natto

    Natto_in_other_words_rotten_soya_bean_but_a_delicacy_in_JapanWhat you said about edamame and tempeh reminded me of natto –what do you think of it? I’m curious about its nutritional value.

    — Christine Ho
    Berkeley, CA

    I did indeed overlook the five-star nutrition in natto, Christine.

    I initially considered mentioning it in the post you refer to, but, in my experience, natto is even harder to track down than edamame and tempeh.  Regardless, I should have mentioned it because it is indeed another wonderful unprocessed way to consume soy.

    I mention “unprocessed” soy because in their feverish rage to bash soy, anti-soy advocates don’t take the time to differentiate between different varieties of the bean.

    It is true that the amount of processed soy in the Standard American Diet (SAD — how appropriate!) is alarming.  To label all soy as equally unhealthy, though, is absurdly reductionist and plain wrong.

    Some of the world’s healthiest cultures have eaten — and continue to eat — large amounts of unprocessed soy on a daily basis.  A diet high in tempeh and natto is very different from one high in soy ice cream, soy chips, and soy burgers.

    In any case: like tempeh, natto is fermented soy.  This means more nutrients (natto is a great source of vitamin K and folate) as well as higher absorption of minerals.  Natto is also a wonderful source of fiber and protein.

    There are two key differences between the two, though.

    1. Tempeh is usually (though not always) mixed with other foods, like barley, millet, and flax seeds.  Natto is 100 percent soy.
    2. Tempeh is fermented through the addition of the Rhizopus mold.  Natto is fermented through the B.subtilis bacteria strand.

    From a flavor and texture standpoint, tempeh is meaty/”mushroomy” while natto is sticky and emits a very unique odor that some appreciate and others find repulsive.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Edamame vs. Canned Soybeans

    edamame_1955[The other day you tweeted that the healthiest forms of soy are edamame and tempeh.]

    How does edamame compare to canned or dried soybeans?

    — Robert Portinga
    (Location unknown)

    Since edamame is an immature soybean, it — just like the fermented soybeans that make up tempeh — contains lower amounts of compounds in soy that interfere with mineral absorption.

    Consequently, the iron, zinc, and calcium in edamame is more available than it is in matured soybeans, whether they are canned or dried.

    That said, whole soybeans are still a much better way to consume soy than in its highly processed forms (i.e.: soy protein isolate or soybean oil).

    In the soy podium, tempeh gets the gold medal, edamame gets silver, and mature soybeans get bronze.

    While miso is also fermented soy, and healthy in its own right, it is consumed in such small quantities (i.e.: one teaspoon added to a recipe that serves four) that I didn’t consider it for the podium.

    PS: Homemade edamame hummus is delicious!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Genetically Modified Beans

    beansI’ve been trying to eat more organic and “real”  food (as well as staying away from soybeans) since seeing the movie “Food Inc.”

    Are beans like pinto  beans, black beans, and kidney beans genetically modified?

    Should I buy organic?

    Susan (last name withheld)
    Grand Rapids, MI

    While I understand your concern about soybeans, there is no need to completely shun it from your diet.

    Keep in mind that the vast majority of genetically-modified soybeans are used to make processed food.

    Since soy is a subsidized crop, the production of soybean oil, soy flour, and soy protein isolate is extremely cheap.

    Next time you are at the store, take a look at processed “junk” food and you are bound to see some, if not all, of these ingredients.

    If you see the words “non-GMO” or “not genetically modified” on a package of tofu or tempeh, you can trust those soybeans have not been tampered with.

    While it is absolutely possible to have a healthy diet without a single soybean, tempeh (fermented soy) is chock-full of nutrition and healthy compounds.

    Companies like Lightlife and Turtle Island offer non-genetically-modified varieties.  If you like how it tastes, certainly continue to consume it!

    While genetically modified kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans certainly exist, they are not as rampant as genetically modified soybeans.

    Buying organic is a fairly good precaution — organic food can not, by definition, be bioengineered.  I say “fairly good” because there are some loopholes.

    I do want to point out that many conventional (meaning “not organic”) beans are NOT genetically modified.

    However, since there are currently no mandatory labeling guidelines for genetically modified food, consumers are kept in the dark.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Tempeh vs. Tofu

    Sliced_tempehIn some of your posts, you have mentioned that tempeh (pictured, left) is more nutritious than tofu.

    Is that just because tempeh is fermented, or are there more reasons?

    — Sarah Bertanke
    (Location withheld)

    While tempeh’s fermentation process certainly gives it a nutritional (and probiotic!) boost, there is more to this tale.

    FYI: Fermentation reduces soybeans’ phytate content, thereby making their zinc and iron much more bioavailable.

    Whereas tofu is made by coagulating soy milk with a precipitating agent (in most cases calcium sulfate, thus the high amounts of calcium in tofu), tempeh is made from whole soybeans.

    The presence of said soybeans — in some cases along with wild rice or flax — makes tempeh a high-fiber food.

    While four ounces of tofu provides 1.5 grams of fiber, that same amount of tempeh adds up to 11 grams!

    Due to its “whole food” status, tempeh is also an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, and potassium.

    Tempeh is also significantly higher in protein and omega-3 Alpha-Linolenic fatty acids than tofu.

    Although I enjoy the taste of both, I am partial to tempeh’s nutty flavors and unique mouth-feel.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Genetic Modification, Tempeh

    tempeh_smokystrips_detailYour post on genetically modified foods was very distressing to read, and that interview you linked to even more so.

    Are fruits like seedless clementines genetically modified?

    [You mentioned that 91 percent of soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified].  I have always been so suspect of soy, anyway.

    Is tempeh soy-based?

    — Dennise O’Grady
    Bay Head, NJ

    The issue of genetically modified foods is simultaneously disturbing, frightening, and… extremely new.

    I have a feeling that as we progress through this current decade, we will begin to learn more about the possible health effects of diets high in genetically modified organisms.  The frustrating angle, of course, is that we are not always made aware whether a certain food is genetically modified or not.

    FYI: late last night, Dr. Marion Nestle uploaded a must-read post about the latest studies on genetically modified foods.

    Onto your questions.

    While clementines (seedless mandarins, for all intents and purposes) sound like a genetically modified dream, they are not (yay!).

    It turns out clementines grow without seeds simply by being planted in isolation from other citrus fruits.

    As for tempeh: yes, it is soy-based.  Specifically, tempeh is made up of fermented soybeans.  That fermentation process, by the way, makes it nutritionally superior to tofu.

    The key with tempeh is to be familiar with the various brands.  I can tell you that Lightlife tempeh products (their “Fakin’ Bacon” tempeh strips are glorious!) and Turtle Island tempeh products (love their sesame garlic marinated tempeh strips) do not contain genetically-modified soybeans.

    What’s very ironic is that most people who are consuming high amounts of genetically-modified soy aren’t necessarily eating tempeh or tofu.

    Remember — soy by-products (like soybean oil, soy protein isolate, and soy flour) are commonly used in a variety of processed foods, from chips to shelf-stable pastries to protein bars.  That’s where most of the genetically-modified soy is going.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Tofu Concerns

    iron-source-edamame-soybeans-lgI am a vegetarian and eat tofu, but I am hearing two things about tofu that are bothering me.

    1) Tofu has large amounts of antibiotics or other additives dangerous to the human body.

    2) In order to make tofu and fulfill the global need for tofu, the Brazilians have undertaken an incredible rate of slash and burn to clear fields to make way for planting of soybeans.

    What are your thoughts?

    — Barlow Humphreys
    Westchester, NY

    1) Tofu does not contain antibiotics.

    The use of antibiotics only comes into play with animals that have them mixed into their feed.

    Non-organic tofu contains pesticides, but there are no “dangerous additives” in soy products.

    2) Brazil is one of the world’s top producers of soy.

    It is certainly true that the increased demand for soy (along with corporate-owned genetically modified soy crops that can practically grow anywhere) have led to a staggering amount of deforestation there.

    That said (and please do not take this to mean I am dismissing that as unimportant) — meat production takes an even larger toll on the environment, as it requires the use of more land, significantly more water usage, and creates a larger amount of waste.

    One way to “pitch in”, from an environmental standpoint, is to purchase soy products made exclusively from soybeans that are not genetically modified, since non-GMO soybeans are usually grown more responsibly.

    Although over 90 percent of the world’s soybeans are genetically modified, most of those are used to make soy by-products (ie: soybean oil, soy protein isolate) used in processed food.

    When it comes to soy products, I recommend prioritizing tempeh (fermented soy) and edamame (picture alongside this post), as these are the most nutritious and less processed varieties.

    Next on the list are tofu and soy-based dairy products.

    Processed foods made largely with soy protein isolates (ie: soy chips, soy bars, soy burgers, soy protein powders) should be considered “occasional treats”.

    Soy can only be considered a health food when it is consumed in a minimally processed form.  A sprinkle of soy dust on a corn chip is hype, not health.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Tofu Cream Cheese

    brealfastHow does tofu cream cheese stack up against regular cream cheese?

    Is the tofu type any better for you?

    — Ella Biggadike
    Brooklyn, NY

    Dairy and soy-based cream cheeses don’t offer much nutrition.

    Here is what you get in one tablespoon of dairy-based cream cheese:

    • 50 calories
    • 3 grams saturated fat (quite a bit for a mere 50-calorie serving!)
    • 1 gram protein
    • 4 percent of the vitamin A Daily Value
    • 2 percent of the phosphorus Daily Value
    • 1 percent of the Daily Value of: calcium, pantothenic acid, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin K

    Of course, fat-free varieties do not offer saturated fat (and clock in at 35 calories per tablespoon).

    Soy-based cream cheeses have an almost identical nutrient profile (except their fat is mostly polyunsaturated, rather than saturated).

    The bigger nutritional concern is what cream cheese is being slathered on.

    The average bagel, for example, clocks in at anywhere from 400 – 500 calories.  Considering that it takes three or four tablespoons of cream cheese to fill them decently, you are easily looking at a 700-calorie breakfast.

    I recommend using nut butters as bagel fillings.  Their fiber, high protein content, and healthy fats (especially in the case of peanut and almond butters) will keep you full for much longer.

    A half bagel topped with two tablespoons of nut or seed butter is a filling breakfast that adds up to approximately 400 calories.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Soy & Thyroid Issues

    iStock_Soy_Bean_On_PodI’ve read the soy is a goitrogen.

    Could it exacerbate hypothyroidism?

    — Corey Clark
    (location withheld)

    Certain compounds in soy can exacerbate — but not cause — thyroid issues by limiting the uptake of iodine and thereby causing goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland).

    Keep in mind, though, that these same compounds are also found in vegetables that belong to the Brassica family of plants (i.e.: broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, mustard greens, kale) as well as strawberries, pears, and peanuts.

    These foods are only a concern for people who already have underactive thyroids.

    Two tips to keep in mind:

    1. Cooking the above-mentioned vegetables lessens their inhibiting effect on thyroid function.
    2. It appears that fermentation reduces goitrogenic compounds, so tempeh (fermented soybeans) can be safely consumed in small amounts by those with underactive thyroids.
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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Tempeh Joes

    DSC02550Frequent visitors to this blog know I have a soft spot for tempeh, the mostly unknown — yet extremely nutritious — fermented soy product that is often relegated to the corners of supermarkets’ produce sections.

    Hopefully this delicious and healthy sloppy joe recipe — passed on by a friend — will give you a reason to purchase some next time you’re at the grocery store.

    The accompanying picture shows the end result (I wasn’t able to fit all of the filling into the buns, hence the spillover).

    In case you’re wondering, that’s a side dish of broccoli-carrot slaw — topped off by a homemade tahini dressing — and two vitamin D pills!

    YIELDS: 4 “Tempeh Joes”

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 package tempeh (any variety)
    1 cup low-sodium canned chickpeas, rinsed
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    3/4 cup onions, chopped
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 cup green peppers, chopped
    1 can diced or petite-cut tomatoes (preferably with jalapeño peppers)
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    4 whole grain buns (I recommend the Food for Life brand)

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Place a cup of rinsed chickpeas in a bowl and mash them.  Set aside.

    Slice tempeh into one-inch think slices.

    You can either steam the tempeh for approximately 15 minutes or stir-fry it in a tablespoon of olive oil for approximately 10 minutes.

    Once tempeh is steamed or stir-fried, cut into small pieces.

    In a large pan, heat the tablespoon of olive oil.  Once oil is hot, add onions and garlic, stirring frequently.

    Once onions and garlic are lightly browned, add peppers, mashed chickpeas, and cut-up tempeh.  Stir frequently over medium heat for five minutes.

    Add diced tomatoes, chili powder, paprika, and cumin.

    Raise heat and stir frequently for approximately five minutes (in the meantime, toast whole grain buns).

    Place tempeh joe mix on toasted buns and enjoy.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving, for version using steamed tempeh):

    404 calories
    1.1 grams saturated fat
    500 milligrams sodium
    15 grams fiber
    22.5 grams protein

    Excellent source of: fiber, manganese, niacin, protein, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin C

    Good source of: Magnesium, potassium

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    Numbers Game: Gene Farming

    soybeansIn the year 2000, approximately 51 percent of soybeans grown in the United States were genetically modified.  This year , ______ percent of US-grown soybeans are of the genetically modified variety.

    a) 71
    b) 83
    c) 91
    d) 98

    Come back on Tuesday for the answer — and to find out what exactly the big deal is about genetically modified crops.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Monoglycerides, Diglycerides, and Soy

    food-labelsOur 3 year old daughter is allergic to soy, milk & peanuts. Feeding her is a challenge, but my husband and I are managing.

    Are mono & diglycerides soy? I can’t seem to find an answer and was hoping you could help.

    — Dalton (last name withheld)
    (Location unkown)

    A good portion of mono and diglycerides are derived from soybean oil, so I would certainly exercise caution.

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    Soy Followup

    28_tofu_lgl2The folks at Men’s Health can’t seem to make up their mind.

    As discussed on Small Bites a few days ago, their latest issue featured a pathetically — and blatantly — biased, much-ado-about-nothing, one-sided article that blasted soy as an unhealthy, feminizing food that has no place in any man’s diet. Editor David Zinczenko even described soy as “a bland threat to manhood” in his monthly note to readers.

    Yet, as Small Bites reader Corey Clark discovered while browing their website, tofu-based recipes (credited to buff fitness model Gregg Avedon) are recommended as “muscle chow” (as they should!)

    I still stand by my theory that the article in question may simply be a form of alternative advertising by the dairy industry and/or whey protein companies.

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