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Vegetarians in Paradise
Words from Other Birds

Marie Oser is a best selling author and food writer with a weekly column in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her next book, Soy of Cooking II will be published by John Wiley in 2000.

It's Soy Easy!!
By Marie Oser

Soy food sales are soaring. Natural foods are making a move into the mainstream and soy foods are turning up in retail stores, restaurants, and home kitchens, as savvy food manufacturers enter the market with many new and innovative soy products.

High in protein (38% by weight) soy is recognized by the U.S. government as a protein alternative, equivalent to that found in meat, milk, and eggs. Soybeans are an excellent source of fiber (15% by weight) and are high in iron, calcium, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin E.

Nutritionists and physicians are more frequently recommending regular consumption of soy products as part of a healthy diet to lower cholesterol levels, combat pre-menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis and many forms of cancer. In fact, soy protein is so effective in lowering blood cholesterol that the National Health Service in Italy provides soy protein free of charge to physicians for the treatment of high blood cholesterol in their patients.

Soy is also an excellent source of calcium, and consuming soyfoods is beneficial for bone health because phytochemicals (plant chemicals) present in soybeans called isoflavones can actually prevent bones from breaking down. However, most of the attention paid to the health benefits of consuming soy have been regarding the phytoestrogen (plant estrogen) genistein and it's role in cancer prevention.

More than 150 studies have shown that when genistein is added to cancer cells growing in a test tube, their growth is inhibited. This applies to all types of cancer cells. Based on studies of populations and their diets, it seems that as little as one serving of soy foods a day could be enough to reduce cancer risk.

Soybean It's really easy to add the goodness of soy to every meal. Vegans can be especially pleased with the variety that soyfoods can add to a plant based diet. Familiar dishes like lasagna, tacos, chili, and burgers are examples of traditional style meals that can become vegan-friendly because of the versatility of this extraordinary bean. And this nutritious kitchen chameleon can assist you in creating rich tasting dips, cream sauces, quiches, and scramblers effortlessly. You just have to use your BEAN!!

Start collecting your healthy rewards from soy and check out the following soy recipes, reprinted from my book Soy of Cooking.

Spicy Roasted Pepper Dip with Garlic Pita Crisps*
(see next recipe to make garlic pita crisps)
*Reprinted w/permission, Soy of Cooking, Marie Oser, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998

This is a delicious, savory dip that is low in calories and fat.
Makes 3 cups

1 1/4 cups lite silken tofu (firm)
1/3 cup eggless mayonnaise*
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup roasted sweet red and yellow peppers (jarred is fine)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons tamari
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

  1. Place tofu in food processor and blend.
  2. Add tofu mayonnaise, garlic, and peppers and pulse to mix.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until blended, but chunky.
  4. Refrigerate several hours or optimally, overnight.
  5. Serve well chilled with crudites or pita crisps.

*Vegenaise or Nayonnaise
Nutrition Analysis: per 3 oz. serving
Calories 28, Protein 2g, Carb 4g, Fiber 1g, Fat 1g, Chol 0.0mg, Calcium 20mg. Sodium 69mg.

Calories from protein: 24%
Calories from Carb: 51%
Calories from Fat: 25%

Garlic Pita Crisps:* Low fat and flavorful, this quick and easy alternative to chips, is a terrific accompaniment to any dip.

12 servings

12 whole wheat or oat bran pita pockets
granulated garlic
Cooking oil spray

  1. Preheat oven to 400 Oil spray baking pan lined with foil.
  2. Cut pita pockets into eighths and place on prepared pan.
  3. Lightly oil spray top side of pita, and sprinkle with granulated garlic. I sometimes like to add Gomasio (Sesame & salt sprinkles) Bake 10 minutes.
  4. Place under the broiler 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  5. Place dip in center of platter or dip tray, surrounded by pita crisps, or serve alongside several dips in a napkin lined basket.

Nutrition Analysis, per serving: 8 pita crisps:
Calories 122, Protein 5g, Carb 25g, Fiber 3g, Fat 1g, Chol 0.0 mg, Calcium 15 mg. Sodium 172 mg.
Calories from Protein: 15%
Calories from Carb: 77%
Calories from Fat: 8%

Savory Stuffed Peppers*
*Reprinted w/permission, Soy of Cooking, Marie Oser, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998

Colorful, tasty and satisfying!

8 servings

2 qts. of boiling water
4 bell peppers (2 green & 2 gold, orange or red), halved and seeded
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz. pkg. Gimme Lean, sausage flavor or ground beef flavor.
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tsp. thyme
4 lg., fresh basil leaves, snipped
1/2 cup white wine
14 oz. can stewed tomatoes, Italian spiced
25 oz. can fat-free tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
4 fresh basil leaves, snipped
1 tsp. granulated garlic

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and take out a 9" by 13" baking pan.
  2. Place halved peppers in boiling water and blanch 5 minutes.
  3. Plunge into cold water, set aside.
  4. In a 10" frying pan, heat oil over medium high flame, 1 minute.
  5. Add onions and garlic, saute 3 minutes.
  6. Add Gimme Lean, stir using a large spoon to break apart, cook 5 minutes.
  7. Add the next 3 ingredients and cook 3 minutes.
  8. Add wine and lower heat, simmer 5 minutes, or until ready to stuff peppers.
  9. In a medium saucepan, mix together the tomato sauce with the remaining ingredients and cook over medium low heat, 10 minutes.
  10. Cover bottom of pan with half of the sauce.
  11. Fill each pepper half with savory filling and place in the pan.
  12. Top with remaining sauce and cover casserole with foil.
  13. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Nutrition Analysis, per serving:
Calories 232, Protein 13g, Carbohydrates 42g, Fiber 7g, Fat 2g, Cholesterol 0.0 mg, Calcium 55 mg, Sodium 409 mg.
Calories from Protein: 22%
Calories from Carbohydrates: 72%
Calories from Fat: 6%

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