Culinary Corner: The Benefits of Soyfoods
By Liz Weiss, MS, RDN
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 26 No. 2 P. 44

Soybeans’ Nutrient Profile and Culinary Versatility

Last fall, I traveled to Fargo, North Dakota, with a small group of dietitians, where we had an opportunity to tour a soybean farm, ride along on a combine to experience first-hand how soybeans are harvested, and spend an afternoon cooking various recipes with soyfoods.

While I was familiar with the many health benefits of eating soy, Mark Messina, PhD, MS, director of nutrition science and research at Soy Nutrition Institute Global, headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri, helped expand my horizons with the latest research regarding soy’s role in lowering the risk of developing breast cancer, improving cognitive function, and protecting against heart disease. Soy’s heart benefits are corroborated by a qualified health claim for soy protein, which was authorized by the FDA in 1999. The claim states that 25 g of soy protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.1,2

In addition, soybeans are a legume—an often underconsumed food group in the United States.3 A 3.5-oz serving (100 g) of boiled soybeans has 172 kcal, 18.2 g protein, 6 g fiber, 8.4 g carbohydrate, and 9 g fat, which is mostly polyunsaturated fat.4

Foods made from soy—such as tofu, soymilk, edamame, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, and soy curls—are versatile and can make their way into a delicious array of plant-based recipes that people of all ages can enjoy. During an afternoon at the North Dakota State College of Science, we joined a group of culinary students where we incorporated various soy products into tasty and nutritious dishes. We made pizza topped with cubed tempeh and shelled edamame; a Bolognese sauce with textured vegetable protein served over spaghetti; vegan fajitas with soy curls, bell peppers, and onion; and a luscious lemon and tofu pudding featuring silken tofu.

Soyfoods Overview
Soyfoods can take a multitude of forms and textures. Here are some of the most common:

• Edamame: Young, green soybeans harvested before they’re fully mature. Edamame originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. They’re popular in Japan, where it’s common to boil the pods in salted water and squeeze the beans directly into the mouth for a protein-rich snack; however, the pods aren’t edible. Edamame pods and beans can be purchased fresh or frozen. Clients can use shelled edamame as a substitute for peas or lima beans.5

• Tempeh: A soy product made by fermenting cooked soybeans, resulting in a dense, nutty-flavored cake with a firm texture. Tempeh originated in Indonesia. It’s eaten in a variety of ways, including deep fried, pan fried, battered, stir fried, grilled, boiled, simmered, and steamed.6

• Textured vegetable protein: A meat substitute made from soy flour, providing a versatile and protein-rich ingredient often used in vegetarian and vegan dishes to mimic the texture of ground meat.

• Soy curls: A type of meat alternative made from whole soybeans that are cooked and dehydrated. The result is a product with a chewy, fibrous texture that can be used as a substitute for shredded or pulled meat.

• Tofu: Made from coagulated soymilk and sold firm or soft, tofu has a silky texture and a neutral flavor, making it ideal for absorbing the flavors of other ingredients. Tofu was first written about during China’s Song Dynasty in 900 AD, and writers from the time believed tofu originated from the Han Dynasty in 100 AD. Today, it continues to be an integral part of everyday Chinese cuisine.7

— Liz Weiss, MS, RDN, is a mom of two grown boys with a specialty in family nutrition and wellness. She shares recipes and healthful living advice on and her podcast, EAT, DRINK, LIVE LONGER. Weiss is a cooking instructor, frequent lifestyle guest on TV shows across the country, and a Have a Plant Ambassador for the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

Disclosure: Weiss’s trip to Fargo, North Dakota, was sponsored by the North Dakota Soybean Council. The information and recipe presented in this article are based on her experience in North Dakota and her learnings from the trip. All content is her own.


Raspberry Tofu Mousse
Serves 6

Silken tofu is a soft and smooth variety with a custardlike texture. It differs from firm and extra firm, which contain less water and are denser. Silken tofu works well in sweet and savory dishes. Clients can blend it into smoothies, use it in a pudding or mousse, or incorporate it into creamy dessert toppings. In savory dishes, silken tofu can be used in soups, sauces, or as the base for vegan dressings or dips.

1 16-oz container silken tofu, well drained (*see note)
11/2 cups frozen raspberries
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
11/2 T vanilla extract
1 T melted virgin coconut oil
2 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Optional toppings: whipped cream, fresh or frozen raspberries, fresh mint leaves, dark chocolate shavings

1. Place tofu, raspberries, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil, lemon juice, and salt in a large food processor. Process until smooth.
2. Transfer into small bowls or ramekins and serve right away or chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
3. Add optional toppings, as desired.

Recipe Note
*To drain, transfer from carton to mesh strainer or colander. Place in sink or over large bowl. Let drain 5 to 10 minutes for best results.

Nutrient Analysis per serving (1/2 cup)
Calories: 175; Total fat: 4 g; Sat fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 30 mg; Total carbohydrate: 30 g; Total sugars: 24 g; Dietary fiber: 3 g; Protein: 4 g


1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21, Section 101.82. FDA website.,the%20heart%20and%20circulatory%20system. Updated October 17, 2023.

2. Messina M, Dunkin A, Messina V, Lynch H, Kiel J, Erdman J. The health effects of soy: a reference guide for health professionals. Front Nutr. 2022;9:970364.

3. Perera T, Russo C, Takata Y, Bobe G. Legume xonsumption patterns in US adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2014 and Beans, Lentils, Peas (BLP) 2017 Survey. Nutrients. 2020;12(5):1237.

4. Soybeans, mature cooked, without salt. USDA website. Published April 1, 2019.

5. Real food encyclopedia: edamame. FoodPrint website.,%2C%20and%20remains%2C%20quite%20popular

6. Shurtleff W, Aoyagi A. History of tempeh. University of Gadjah Mada website. Published 2007.

7. The history of tofu! One Green Planet website.