To soy or not to soy – this may have been our friend Hamlet’s burning question if he was living in 2015 and gave a fig about trying to successfully navigate the world of healthy eating. And maybe this week’s tasty recipe – Ginger Edamame and Avocado Quinoa – would help sway his answer. But more on that later.
The great soy debate is one that has been raging for years, with experts from both sides weighing in with their scientific and professional evidence that proves their position on the subject to be the correct one. The result? Deadlock. Yep – the jury is still out and people are no closer to understanding whether to order the tofu burger or stick with the chicken. BUT if you care to know my opinion (and I assume you do since you are reading this – thanks again for that), I say go for the tofu – with a few caveats of course.
Much of the controversy around soy is due to some fairly unique components of soy, isoflavones, also called phytoestrogens or “plant estrogens” because they can attach to estrogen receptors in cells. The estrogenicity of soy has raised questions of potential benefits, such as for bone health of post-menopausal women, as well as concerns, such as for women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. The topic has come up a few times in the classroom since I started my studies at CSNN, and the general philosophy my teachers have agreed upon is this: soy is ok in small amount and as long as it’s organic, non-GMO (non-genetically modified).
Despite its bad rap, soy is a great vegetarian protein source that can be enjoyed in many different ways – from tempeh, to tofu, to everyone’s favourite sushi side, edamame. And it’s not just protein that makes soy great: it’s also an excellent source of fiber, B vitamins, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
It is true that soy can be a common allergen among many, which makes many nervous to include it in their diet. My advice is always to listen to what your body is telling you. If you have a negative reaction after eating soy, such as gas or bloating, then perhaps it’s best you avoid using soy. But if you eat soy without adverse effects, chances are you are able to metabolize it fine – so go ahead and eat up! Just be sure to read the labels of the products you buy to ensure you choose organic, non-GMO options. Also, eating too much of any food is how we develop food sensitivities, so make sure you are including other healthy protein sources in your diet and limiting your soy enjoyment to only a few times a week.
And now that I’ve adequately pumped its tires – here’s a tasty way to enjoy soy! This gluten-free and dairy-free quinoa salad is so delicious and is packed with tons of plant-based protein from both the edamame and the quinoa (and the shrimp I tossed in mine as a bonus!). It also boasts some healthy fats care of the avocado – something we all know I am a fan of for brain and mucous membrane health as well as making sure your body can suck up all those important fat soluble vitamins! Ah-mazing.
The Natural Blonde
P.s. I should disclose that although the jury is out on soy and its effects on men’s hormone health, I usually opt to eat it as part of solo meals in case the myth about my husband getting man boobs from the estrogen turns out to be true. Better safe than sorry, and all that jazz….
Ginger Edamame and Avocado Quinoa
1 cup quinoa (I like to mix regular with black and red for colour)
2 cups water
¼ tsp. salt
1½ cups shelled and cooked edamame
1 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and chopped
3 green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional: 1 lb bag frozen shrimp
For the Dressing:
4 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp. Tamari (or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime
½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
Start by adding water, quinoa, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until fully cooked and “fluffy”. Once cooked, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
While the quinoa, make the dressing by whisking together the rice wine vinegar, Tamari, sesame oil, lime juice, and fresh ginger in a small bowl.
Once quinoa is cooled, add the edamame, avocado, green onions, and cilantro and gently stir to combine. Lastly, pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and serve! I like it at room temperature but cold is delicious as well.
Can be stored for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.