Farm Progress

The Soyfoods Council offers information on healthful eating that’s good for your heart.

February 8, 2017

4 Min Read
HEART MONTH: February is American Heart Month, and soyfoods are versatile, affordable ingredients that can help you make a healthy update to your favorite recipes.

By Linda Funk

Valentine’s Day entertaining is a way to express your love for family, friends or that special someone in your life. When you’re preparing celebratory foods, serve appetizers, drinks and desserts that offer a better-for-you profile. Soyfoods are a good choice because they provide nutrient-dense, plant-based protein. They’re versatile, affordable ingredients that make it easy to update your favorite recipes.

February is also American Heart Month. According to the American Heart Association, in the past several decades fewer Americans have been dying of heart disease and stroke, due to progress in medical therapies for patients with a history of these conditions and from lifestyle changes that help curb the risk. For instance, foods with plant-based soy protein can help lower blood cholesterol levels. And soybean isoflavones may reduce heart disease risk, independent of cholesterol levels by directly improving the health of arteries.

One serving of soyfoods — including soymilk, edamame and tofu — provides 7 to 15 grams of high-quality, plant-based protein. Unlike many commonly consumed protein-rich foods, soyfoods are cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.

Valentine’s Day recipes
• The Tempeh Avocado Sushi Roll can kick off any Valentine’s Day celebration with style as guests make their own sushi. Ingredients — available in most large supermarkets — include tempeh (fermented soybean cakes with a mushroomlike flavor) and nori (seaweed sheets), sushi rice, seasoned rice wine vinegar with a little sugar added, soy sauce, avocado and chives. You’ll find complete instructions for this recipe on the Soyfoods Council website.

• Another romantic recipe that appeals to adventurous eaters is Tofu and Shrimp Ceviche, served in decorative glassware and garnished with tortilla chips. The appetizer features firm pressed tofu, shrimp, diced fresh pineapple, lime juice, chopped onion and jalapeno, and chopped cilantro leaves, if desired, plus hot sauce to taste.

• Have fun with romantic Valentine’s Day drinks featuring soymilk, such as a soy-rich recipe for Soy Irish Cream Liqueur. Make your own by combining sweetened condensed milk, half-and-half dairy milk and soymilk, flavored with a little chocolate syrup and vanilla extract, then mixed with Irish whiskey and rum.

• For a whimsical touch, serve an Edamame Martini with an edamame and tofu-cube garnish as a reminder to include a serving of soyfoods in your diet every day. (A cocktail garnish won’t do it though; for one serving, you’ll need ½ cup of tofu or ½ cup of edamame.) Made in a cocktail shaker, the martini incorporates vodka, cucumber juice, yuzu or lemon juice, and simple syrup. Make the garnish by threading a toothpick with four to six shelled edamame and one small cube of extra-firm pressed tofu wrapped in a slice of pickled ginger.

Sun-dried Tomato Dip is just right for serving with fresh vegetables or crackers. Start with a mix of soft tofu and softened cream cheese; then add ranch dressing seasoning mix, chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes, minced onion and garlic powder. The dip is done in a minute when you make it in a food processor or blender. Just chill it for an hour, and you’re ready to start a memorable celebration.

What’s Valentine’s Day without chocolate?
The Soyfoods Council offers recipes for easy chocolate-rich desserts such as Chocolate Mousse made with silken tofu, cocoa powder and other flavorings, or Vegan Dark Chocolate Truffles, made with silken tofu, melted dark chocolate chips, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

The Soyfoods Council knows that healthful eating isn’t your main objective on Valentine’s Day, but isn’t it satisfying to know that soyfoods and simple soy recipes are so readily available for anyone who has their heart set on making wise dietary choices? The Soyfoods Council offers a wide variety of recipes for entertaining, as well as healthful appetizer ideas the whole family will enjoy. For meal ideas, nutrition data and detailed information about soy and heart health, visit the Soyfoods Council.

Soyfoods have played an important role in Asian cuisines for centuries. In recent years they have become popular in Western countries because of their nutrition and health properties. Soyfoods are excellent sources of high-quality protein and provide a healthy mix of polyunsaturated fat. In addition, independent of their nutrient content, there is very intriguing evidence indicating soyfoods reduce risk of several chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, osteoporosis and certain forms of cancer. All individuals are well advised to eat a couple of servings of soyfoods every day.

The Soyfoods Council is a nonprofit organization, created and funded by Iowa soybean farmers, providing a complete resource to increase awareness of soyfoods, and educate and inform media, health-care professionals, consumers and the retail and food-service market about the many benefits of soyfoods. Iowa is the country’s No. 1 grower of soybeans, and is the soyfoods capital of the world.

Funk is executive director of the Soyfoods Council, based in Des Moines. Contact her at [email protected] for more information.

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