This past summer I interned with The SoyFoods Council, which is a council that “serves as a catalyst, leader and facilitator to mainstream soy-based foods into the global marketplace—America and beyond.”

I was fortunate enough to be able to work in a test kitchen and create dishes using all different types of soy.  Throughout my experience I worked alongside another intern, Celia Bravard, who is also a student at Iowa State University.  She is studying Food Science while I have been studying Culinary Science.  Her scientific approach complemented my creative style and vice versa.

Our creativity was driven by the challenge of using soy in unique and innovative ways.  Most of our focus was on creating fresh and healthy versions of traditionally unbalanced recipes.

The recipes we developed incorporate many different techniques and flavors from around the world.  We created recipes ranging from dips and appetizers to entrees and desserts.

There are many different types and forms of soy that can be used in cooking and we definitely made use of them!  We realized that soy is not just tofu.  Surprising, I know.

My secret to you…embrace the versatility of soy.

One of my favorite recipes that we created was our chocolate mousse.  I am not sure if I love it because it’s a dessert, if it’s the chocolate or if it’s the lack of guilt I feel.  Heck, maybe it’s the fact that we tested and re-tested this recipe nearly 18 times.  It felt good when we finally got it right. Check out the recipe here:

The types of soy I use in the kitchen & why:

Soy milk

I like to use original, unsweetened soy milk, this allows me to be able to use it in both sweet and savory dishes.

It has a very nutty flavor with a mild natural sweetness.  Soymilk has fewer calories, grams of sugar and cholesterol while containing more calcium and Vitamin D in comparison skim dairy milk.

Soy milk can easily be used in place of dairy milk.

Soft Silken Tofu

This product comes packaged in a small rectangular cardboard box. (This is not the same product as soft water-packed tofu).

It is perfect for using in smoothies, dips and desserts because of its light, fluffy and cream-like qualities.  When combined with greek yogurt, it can take the place of cream cheese or mayonnaise in recipes.

Extra Firm Tofu

This type of tofu is water packed and ideal for entrees.  In order to achieve the firmest and most desirable texture, it is vital to press the tofu.  This process removes excess water and prepares the tofu to absorb flavors.

To do this: Begin by draining the water from the package followed by slicing the tofu into desired pieces.  Arrange tofu pieces on a paper towel-lined plate or pan.  Place a layer of paper towels on top of the tofu pieces, then place a flat, heavy object on top. (For example, I use glass baking dishes and skillets).  Press for at least a half hour, replacing paper towels after 15 minutes or as needed.  The tofu is now ready to be marinated, rubbed or seasoned. This process results in an overall better piece of tofu.


Edamame are immature soybeans.  They can be found frozen in the pod or shelled.

It is important to read the package for information regarding cooking method and time.  Some can be found ready to eat while others require boiling or steaming before consuming.

I love this form of soy due to its unique texture and fresh flavor.  The combination of a crispy yet creamy bean is great in fresh salsas, salads and dips or simply on its own as a side dish.

Black Soybeans

Black soybeans are very similar to black beans and can be found in cans.  Black soybeans have a slightly firmer texture than black beans but can be used in-place of or alongside many kinds of beans,

TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)

TVP can also be referred to as TSP (Textured Soy Protein).  TVP can be found next to other grain products typically located in the health or organic sections of your supermarket.

A great way to use this product is by hydrating the dried flakes with boiling water.  The hydrated protein can be seasoned and used in-place of ground meats.

 TVP can also be used both in combination or in place of breadcrumbs.  Just grind the TVP to make a finer texture.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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