Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Tempting Soy Dish

Soy is one of those foods that has confused me over the last several years. While I was a graduate student, I was drinking soy milk everyday, eating tofu as a protein source and would even use it to make chocolate mousse. I was also eating other forms of soy as well. It was regarded as a miracle food with a high quality plant protein and whose phytoestrogens were thought to be beneficial.

Then, I read that unfermented soy, such as that found in soy milk, textured soy protein, soy burgers, etc., was difficult to digest and high in toxins that prevented the absorption of minerals. In addition, if it wasn’t organic, it was likely genetically modified and heavily sprayed with herbicides/pesticides. As heartbroken as I was, I stopped eating all forms of soy. Gradually, I added back in fermented soy in the form of miso and tempeh and the occasional meal with tofu, which I was still unclear about.

Today, there seem to be two camps of people that either love soy or avoid it like the plague and I generally sided with the latter group, at least with regard to unfermented soy. Then last week, I read a post from Mark Hyman about his thoughts on soy that you can read here. In a nutshell, he believes that both the good characteristics and the bad qualities of soy have been blown out of proportion and most studies concluding that soy is dangerous were poorly designed and didn’t reflect normal consumption habits.

He also made a good point that I’ll paraphrase here: If you had the choice to eat a stir fry with tofu or a meal from a fast food restaurant, choose the stir fry for sure! It made so much sense to me. And his bottom line was to eat whole soy foods, such as edamame, versus processed soy that’s turned into burgers, cheeses, and ice cream, which in the end, are like any other processed food that contain unhealthy fats (and likely sugars and chemicals that don’t belong in our bodies).

So with that, I’ve posted a simple recipe below for tempeh, which can be found in most markets with the tofu. It’s a fermented soy product that I’ve combined with sautéed cabbage. It’s quick and delicious and a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, vitamin K, and folate from the cabbage (as well as lots of disease-fighting phytonutrients), and healthy fat.

Tempeh with Cabbage

1 T grapeseed oil

1 package of tempeh, sliced cross-wise

2 c each red and green cabbage, thinly chopped

1 – 2 T tamari or soy sauce

1 t sesame seeds

sesame oil

Heat the grapeseed oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the cabbages and sauté for several minutes until tender. Push the cabbage to the sides of the pan and add the tempeh. Saute until lightly browned on all sides and heated through. Add the tamari or soy sauce and pepper if desired, then mix the cabbage and tempeh together. Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve warm.

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