Right now is harvest time for soybeans in Central Louisiana. Last year in Rapides parish alone, over 29,000 acres of soybeans were planted by 80 area producers for a total economic value of $22,268,862. In 2012 throughout the state of Louisiana, 1.12 million acres were planted by 2,300 producers for a total value of Louisiana soybean production at $805,000,000. Soybeans are a very important Louisiana commodity, to say the least. Soybeans are also a very healthy source of protein. Soy is the only plant-based protein that is, in fact, a complete protein, which is a protein containing all of the essential amino acids in the correct quantity and ratio for humans.
According to the United Soybean Board, soybean oil is the most widely available and widely used vegetable oil in the United States. Approximately 60 percent of all fats and oils consumed in the American diet comes from soybean oil. Besides providing essential fatty acids and vitamin E, vegetable oils aid the body’s ability to absorb and effectively use vitamins provided by other foods consumed. Other soy products which are commonly consumed and readily available at the grocery store are green vegetable soybeans known as edamame, soynuts, soymilk, soy sauce, and tofu/tofu products.
Tofu, also known as soybean curd, is a soft, cheese-like textured food made by curdling fresh, hot soymilk with a coagulant. Tofu is a bland product that easily absorbs the flavors of other ingredients with which it is cooked. Tofu is rich in protein and B vitamins, and low in sodium. Firm tofu is a solid, dense product that can be cubed and served in soups, stir fried, or even grilled. This type of tofu is higher in protein, fat and calcium than other forms. Soft tofu is good for dishes that call for blending the tofu into other ingredients. Silken tofu is a creamy product that can be used as a replacement for sour cream in many dip recipes.
Soynut butter is also gaining popularity and becoming more readily available on your grocer’s shelves. It’s great for individuals with peanut allergies who cannot have peanut butter! It is made from roasted, whole soynuts, which are crushed and blended with soybean oil and other ingredients. Soynut butter has a slightly nutty taste and contains significantly less fat than peanut butter.
If you don’t think your family is ready for a completely “meat-less” meal, try the recipe below which contains silken tofu in addition to lean ground turkey. Unless you tell them, your family members will never know they are eating tofu!
On Wednesday, October 16th, the LSU AgCenter will host the 2nd session of the Fall Lunch & Learn series which focuses on Louisiana Commodities. This program will feature soybeans. Dr. Ron Levy, State Soybean Specialist for the LSU AgCenter will talk about soybean production in Louisiana and the many uses of soy. There will also be various products and dishes to taste at this event. Pre-registration is required; you may call (318) 767-3968 to do so. Lunch will also be served at a cost of $8.00 per person, but the program is free and open to the public.
For more information on this and any other nutrition topics, please contact the Rapides Parish Extension Office or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/rapides.