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What is soy?

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watch for hidden soy

Soy is a member of the legume family. When consumed, soy products trigger an autoimmune response (in essence, an allergic reaction) in those individuals who are soy-intolerant. Soy and its by-products are widely used in processed foods. In addition, fermented soy is a food staple in Asian cuisine.

As a major allergen, soy will be clearly marked on the labels of foods produced for the US market. However, it is still important to learn what to look for to avoid soy in your diet.



Read the label for soy

Soy can be found in edamame, miso, natto, shoyu, soy (as in “soy cheese”, “soy nuts”, etc), soya, soybean, soy protein, soy sauce, tamari, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (“TVP”), and tofu. It can also be hidden under such labels as “vegetable broth”, “vegetable starch”, and “vegetable oil”.

The best way to avoid soy is a simple one: avoid processed foods. Soy cannot be hidden in whole foods except edamame.

Soy free substitutions

The funny thing about substituting for soy is that we often end up substituting for the substitute that soy is typically used for. If it is a entree protein-replacement, simply switch back to meat, switch milk-substitute back to milk, and so forth. The key is to determine the purpose of the soy in that particular recipe to decide on an appropriate substitution.

The closest substitute for soy flour in terms of texture and “handling” are the bean flours. Replace 1 cup of soy flour with 1 1/8 cup bean flour (any). In addition, the liquid content of the recipe will require slight adjustment since soy flour is extremely moist. No other flours can be adequately substituted for soy flour due to its particular properties and texture.

For soy “dairy” items such as soy milk or soy cheese, it would be simplest to switch to a cow’s milk product. Alternately, try a rice- or nut-based product of the same type. Use the same volume of liquid (for milks) or same weight of solid (for cheese-like items).

Soy “meat” likewise can simply be substituted with the same weight of actual meat. For non-meat protein sources, try a similar weight of beans or nuts.

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