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Small Steps to Health with Soy

Small Steps to Health with Soy

“I will be healthier in 2011.” Does this phrase describe you? Improving health is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. For some, this means getting more sleep, minimizing stress, getting more physical activity or eating differently.

When it comes to guidance on food and physical activity, the USDA’s food pyramid website is a wealth of resources. One of the key messages printed right on the graphic is the slogan “Steps to a healthier you.” This phrase aims to encourage consumers to make gradual improvements with daily small steps toward improving their diet and lifestyle.

“To be successful at achieving goals, it is important to make them manageable and realistic, which means focusing on one specific behavior at a time and possibly breaking that up into smaller steps,” says Gretchen Hofing, Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) soyfoods health educator and a registered dietitian based in Lenawee County. “When it comes to diet and lifestyle goals, this advice definitely applies,” she adds.

“With my special interest in soyfoods and knowledge that they contribute to current good health, including healthy weight management, as well as prevention of future disease, I’d challenge people interested in improving their health in 2011 to include soyfoods in their menus,” says Hofing.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a health claim stating 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Research continues to point toward other health benefits as well, such as prevention of some cancers, alleviation of hot flash symptoms, dairy and peanut allergy management and possible osteoporosis prevention.

Take those small steps by trying one new soyfood each week for a month.

  • Week 1: Use soymilk in coffee; add to a smoothie, on cereal or in pancake or muffin batter.
  • Week 2: Try silken tofu pureed with seasonings and cheese and used as the base for a pasta sauce (thinned out with soymilk). Try pureed with dry ranch dressing mix or curry powder as a vegetable dip or baked potato topping. Puree with frozen fruit for a fruit or graham cracker dip or use in a cheesecake.
  • Week 3: Buy canned black or tan soybeans or frozen green soybeans (edamame). Use them in place of other beans. Add to salads, soups or casseroles.
  • Week 4: Buy soynuts and eat them on their own as a snack; crush them and use as a crunchy coating for fish or chicken. Add to salads, ice cream sundaes or cookies.

Purchasing and consuming soyfoods is a great way to support your health and Michigan agriculture. The Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee represents soybean producers in the state and funds soybean research and educational efforts.

Soy stir fry recipe

Here is a sample of a healthy and tasty soy recipe. Look for more soyfoods recipes at



Servings: 6

  • 1 tablespoon soybean oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large bunch broccoli, cut into flowerettes (about 4 cups)
  • 10-ounce box frozen green soybeans
  • 1 tablespoon soybean oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon soybean oil
  • 1 1/4 pound sirloin steak, fat trimmed, and cut into strips
  • 7 or 8 ounces firm, water-packed tofu, drained, cut into chunks or strips


In large skillet or wok, heat first tablespoon of soybean oil over medium-high heat. Add red bell pepper strips and broccoli flowerettes. Cook, stirring constantly until crisp tender. Stir in green soybeans and cook one minute or until green soybeans are no longer frozen. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables, and place in a bowl and cover. Set aside

In same skillet or wok, heat second tablespoon of soybean oil. While oil is heating, in a measuring cup or small bowl, make a paste of the ginger, cornstarch, soy sauce, water and one teaspoon soybean oil. Set aside

Add strips of beef sirloin to hot oil. Stir and cook until almost done. Add soy sauce paste mixture and stir well. Add vegetables back to wok or skillet and toss well. Add strips of tofu, and toss lightly until tofu is heated throughout. Serve over hot steamed rice or Asian noodles.

Yield: Approximately 10 cups stir fry

Serving size: 1 2/3 cups.


Nutrition information per serving: 336 calories, 14 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 39 g protein (9 g soy protein), 12 g carbohydrate, 255 mg sodium, 62 mg cholesterol, 7 g dietary fiber.

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