Food for Thought: Try soy for healthier meals

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Bringing healthier foods to the table can be easier -- and more delicious -- than you might think. When you add high-quality proteins such as soyfoods to the menu, you open up the door to a wide variety of tasty and nutritious meals.

The plant-based proteins of soy are packed with benefits for your body. They:

- Have all the essential amino acids needed for growth.

- May help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol and increasing the flexibility of blood vessels.

- Are equivalent to animal sources of protein but have no cholesterol and little saturated fat.

In fact, both the national 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the MyPlate nutrition guidance recommend soyfoods such as soymilk, veggie burgers, soy nutrition bars, soy sausages, tofu, soy yogurt, soy protein shakes and edamame. You can easily enjoy soy proteins in a lot of different ways.

Meat and poultry lovers can enjoy soy, too, by incorporating soy crumbles and other soy products into their favorite dishes. This recipe for a Veggie Taco Salad makes a satisfying, nutritious entree for the whole family.

Veggie Taco Salad

Makes 4 servings

2  cups soy crumbles (you can find these in your grocer's freezer section or refrigerated  meat section)

3/4  cup salsa

5  cups shredded lettuce

1  cup corn kernels

1  cup black beans

Topping options:

1/4  cup sliced green onions

1/4  cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

2  tablespoons sliced ripe olives

2  tablespoons fat free sour cream

In large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook crumbles and salsa over medium heat about 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently.

In large bowl toss together lettuce, corn and black beans. Arrange on 4 serving plates. Top with crumbles mixture. Sprinkle with toppings.

-- Family Features

Number to Know

1/4: A quarter cup of cooked beans is equivalent to an ounce of protein. According to, the average person needs between 5 and 7 ounces of protein a day.

Tip of the Week

A variety of vegetarian products look -- and may taste -- like their non-vegetarian counterparts but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol. For breakfast, try soy-based sausage patties or links. For dinner, rather than hamburgers, try bean burgers or falafel (chickpea patties).


Easy Recipes

Cheddar, Pesto & Crunchy Onion Panini

Makes: 4 servings

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 of a 24-ounce package Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White Bread (8 slices)

8 slices deli sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)

1/4 cup pesto sauce

1/2 cup French fried onions

1. Spread the butter on the bread slices. Turn 4 bread slices butter-side down. Place 2 cheese slices on each butter-topped slice and top each with 1 tablespoon pesto and 2 tablespoons onions. Top with the remaining bread slices, butter-side up.

2. Heat the panini maker. Add the sandwiches in batches and cook for 5 minutes or until lightly browned and the cheese is melted.

Alternate Preparation: If you don't have a panini maker you can use a grill pan or a 10-inch skillet. Assemble the sandwiches as directed above. Heat the grill pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwiches in batches and cook until lightly browned on both sides and the cheese is melted.

-- Family Features/Campbell's Soup Company

Food Quiz

When George H.W. Bush became president, he said he would not eat any more of this vegetable:

A. Cauliflower

B. Brussel sprouts

C. Broccoli

Answer at bottom of rail.

Wise to the Word

Pesto is the general name for a (usually thick) sauce used to flavor anything from toasted bread to fish to pasta. You can rub or spoon it over grilled meats and vegetables or you can stir it into soups and stews. Classic Italian pesto is made with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil. 

The Dish On...

"Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes," from Martha Stewart Living

As inspiring as it is practical, Meatless features 200 recipes -- each accompanied by a gorgeous photograph -- for full-fledged vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. You’ll find recipes for classics and new favorites, plus plenty of low-fat, vegan, and gluten-free options, too.

More than just a cookbook, Meatless is also a roadmap to embracing a vegetable-based lifestyle. Here are dozens of versatile recipes that can be easily adapted, such as pizza with a variety of toppings, salads made from different whole grains, and pestos with unexpected flavors and ingredients. You’ll also find advice on stocking your pantry with vegetarian essentials (dried beans, pasta, herbs and spices), a collection of basic recipes and techniques (vegetable stock, tomato sauce, polenta), and make-ahead flavor-boosters (caramelized onions, roasted peppers, and quick pickles).


Food Quiz Answer

C. Broccoli. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush proclaimed, "I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm president of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli." In response, U.S. broccoli growers sent a 10-ton delivery of the vitamin-rich veggie directly to the White House.