Thinking of preparing a meatless meal for dinner or adopting a vegetarian lifestyle? This would be a great time to incorporate soy into your diet! However, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with the vast array of soy products lining the shelves in our grocery stores. To make things a little easier on your next shopping trip, here are a few suggestions you may want to try when preparing your next meatless meal:

  • Miso is a type of Japanese seasoning made by fermenting rice, barley, and/or soybeans with salt and fungus. It is in the form of a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, or used as a soup stock. Miso is high in protein, vitamins and minerals, but tends to be high in sodium so intake must be monitored if maintaining a low sodium diet. try to find it with unrefined sea salt
  • Tamari is class of soy sauce with many characteristics similar to soy sauce. They are both made from fermented soybeans, but Tamari is considered to be “wheat free”, having little to no wheat but rather a greater concentration of soy. This sauce has its own unique flavor and is thicker, richer, and less salty than most soy sauce.  Tamari works great when making dressings or marinades and can be used in place of soy for an Asian-inspired taste.
  • Tempeh is a soy food made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans that is formed into a compact patty. Many commercially prepared brands add other grains such as barley and also add various spices and extra flavors. Tempeh has a firm texture and a unique nutty, mushroom flavor. It is very versatile and can be used in recipes in many different ways. Normally tempeh is sliced or cut in cubes and fried until the surface is crisp and golden brown. It can also be grated like cheese if used in soups, spreads, salads or sandwiches. It is low in fat and a great source of protein, fiber, calcium and iron. This soy food can be found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores and in the natural foods aisle of many supermarkets.
  • Edamame is an immaturely harvested green soybean that is usually left in the pod. To better retain the freshness and its natural flavor, it is parboiled and quick-frozen. Edamame is a great source of protein and is generally consumed as a snack, a vegetable side dish, or used in soups. As a snack, the pods are often seasoned with salt for taste either by dissolving the salt in boiling water before adding the beans, or adding the salt to the pods after cooking them in boiling water.

These are just a few of the many soy-based products available on many supermarket and health food store shelves. They are excellent sources of protein, and contain high levels of essential fatty acids, numerous vitamins and minerals, and dietary fiber. Next time you are planning a meatless meal, or just wanting to try something new, consider one of these healthy and delicious soy products!