There is a great deal of research and hence controversy regarding the health benefits -or not- of soy and soy products. The main concerns are that soy is high in phytoestrogens and compounds that inhibit the absorption of nutrients by our body. Not only that, but many of the soy products typically consumed by consumers these days are highly processed and chock full of nasty food additives.
So what’s so bad about phytoestrogens? Well, hard to believe for some, but our bodies are finely tuned organisms controlled by an array of hormones. Tinkering with our body’s hormone balance by even amounts so small to imagine can throw this delicate balance off. This is especially true for infants and children. Studies have shown girls experience puberty at a much younger age these days…could the increase of soy in the American diet be responsible?
Besides, soy is NOT the most nutritious food on earth as the soy industry and soy industry lobbied government organizations would have you believe. The B vitamins are not in a form absorbable by humans and in fact soy contains anti-nutrients which inhibit the absorption of vital nutrients.
And, those soy burgers, dogs, and other meat substitutes are the highly processed waste product from the soy oil industry – mostly GMO by the way. In order to make the leftover soy oil sludge edible it must be put through a maze of high pressure chemical mastication and de-odorization to give it a ‘nice’ texture and ‘clean’ palate to then add a chemical lab inventory of artifical flavors, colors and preservatives. Yum!
Ok, so that said, not all soy is bad. The age old fermentation process actually transforms soy into a healthful addition to a well balanced diet. What’s on the good list? Any non-GMO organic miso, tamari/soy sauce, natto, Chinese fermented bean curd, and tempeh. Tofu doesn’t fall into the fermented category. When studies cite Asian diets as high in soy – well, it’s a bit of a stretch. While an Asian may have soy products everyday – it’s usually only a few tablespoons of a fermented soy product or occasionally some tofu but again only a small amount.
What’s a soy lovin person to do? Well, as an adult, I’d enjoy the good list of soy products with some tofu on occasion and even some homemade soy milk every now and then.If I had a baby or kid, I’d avoid giving too much of the good soy – maybe a few times a month if that. And for everyone, avoid like the plague, any overly processed soy-like ‘fake’ meat products, commercial soy milks and anything with soy oil.
I must admit I love soy milk – it’s in my blood. BUT not the commercial stuff you find today in the typical grocer. That stuff has all kinds of additives to give it a ‘creamy’ almost dairy milk like consistency, sweeteners, and bad bad bad forms of calcium and deadly D2. BTW, The good form of vitamin D is D3.
When I was in China, a typical breakfast included a hot bowl of freshly made soy milk. I enjoyed that treat so much that I figured I could make my own healthy version. After a bit of research, I found a basic recipe in Grace Young’s The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen. I made one addition to her recipe of adding lemon juice (or any acid) during the soaking phase to neutralize some of the anti-nutrients (phytates). So when I want to enjoy some soy milk, I whip up a batch of my own from organic, non-GMO soybeans. Here’s the recipe:
Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
1/2 cup soybeans, dried (approx. 3 oz.wt.)
2 tablespoons lemon juice — or vinegar
lots of filtered water
Wash soy beans well. Soak beans with lemon juice or vinegar and twice as much water as beans for approximately 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Rinse and discard any loose skins.
Put beans in a 3 to 4 quart sauce pot with at least twice as much water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 1 hour or until beans are soft. Alternately, you may use a pressure cooker on high for 10 minutes.
Cool to a temperature you can work with. Drain beans BUT reserve liquid. Put beans in a food processor or blender with enough of the cooking liquid to puree. Puree until very smooth like the consistency of baby food.
In a 4 quart sauce pot bring remaining reserved cooking liquid and enough filtered water to bring amount up to 4 1/2 cups to a boil. Stir in the soybean paste. Bring back up to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool. Strain through a very fine mesh sieve or muslin cloth. Press to extract as much milk out as possible. Toss solids or put into your compost.
Pour soy milk into a clean container and refrigerate.
To serve: shake bottle. You may drink hot or cold with a little sweetener or sea salt as desired. Soy milk will keep for about 4 – 5 days in the refrigerator.
Source: Adapted from “The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen” by Grace Young
Yield: “1 quart”
For more info on the soy controversy, read The Whole Soy Story by Dr. Kaayla Daniels or visit the Weston A. Price Foundation website.