In looking for nondairy alternatives you'll find all kinds of soy products readily available to you in most grocery stores and definitely in health food stores. Most soy products are free of lactose as well as milk protein. If you are using soy milk as a milk replacement, be sure to choose one that is fortified with calcium. Today there are literally thousands of soy products on the market. Soy milk, tofu, soy cheeses, soy yogurt, soy sour cream, miso, tempeh, and soy sauce are all made from soybeans.
Where Soy's “Bean”
Soy cultivation dates back to the Chou dynasty in the eastern half of Northern China. It wasn't until sometime in the 1760s that soybeans were planted and harvested in the United States. Soy milk is made by grinding the beans, cooking them briefly, squeezing them, and combining the extracted liquid with water.
The handling of soy milk and soy products is no different in the kitchen than handling a perishable dairy product. Be sure to pay attention to the dates on the packaging, and dispose of the products if you haven't used them by their freshness dates.
Soy contains no cholesterol and very little saturated fat. It is a good source of protein, vitamin B12, fiber, potassium, iron, vitamin D, and zinc. Check the labels as soy products do vary by brand and some are enhanced and fortified with calcium, some have higher B-vitamin content than others, and so on.
You can find soy milk in the dairy case and in aseptic packages on the un-refrigerated grocery store shelves. Don't be under the illusion that soy milk is going to taste like cow's milk; it has a sweet, beany taste. Soy milk comes in different flavors and varieties; it's possible to satisfy your craving for chocolate milk with a soy alternative.
Be very watchful not to allow soy milk to boil as it will curdle quickly. To avoid this, try to add your soy milk last in your recipe preparations.
Tofu for You!
Tofu is soybean curd made from soy milk. The process of making tofu is similar to that of making cheese. You'll find tofu in different textures, which is based on its water content. Keep in mind that the firm and extra-firm tofu contains less water and more protein. The recipes in this book call for firm and extra-firm tofu because it retains its shape in stir-fry and other dishes.
Tasty, crunchy, and packed full of protein, edamame are green soybeans that are harvested just before their maturity. They're harvested in pods and are very similar in size and color to peas. You're usually served edamame in Japanese restaurants and at sushi bars as an appetizer. Edamame is also available in the frozen food section of health food stores and in some grocery stores. Edamame is good cooked according to the package directions and served as a veggie side dish and is a great addition to salads.