Everything You Need to Know About Soy Milk
December 5, 2014
Find out how soy milk is made, if it’s truly good for you and how you can use it!
How is Soy Milk Made?
First, soybeans are first blanched in a sodium bicarbonate solution to get rid of their bitter taste, increase digestibility and remove products that can cause gas.
Then, the soybeans are ground in the solution. After grinding, the mixture is decanted to remove any fibers that might cause a chalky mouth feel. The soy milk is then deodorized to get rid of any undesirable smells.
Finally, water is added to standardize the protein content of the soy milk. This is the point when the soy milk can be flavored or fortified (we’ll come back to that later). This is also the point at which the soy milk is homogenized. Homogenization helps the soy milk maintain a uniform consistency by breaking down the fat globules into very fine particles and distributing them evenly throughout.
Soy milk contains about 7 grams of protein per cup, which is pretty close to the 8 grams of protein per cup in cow’s milk. It also contains isoflavones, a plant-based compound known as a phytoestrogen.
While soy milk might not innately be rich in calcium and vitamin D, it is fortified to contain equal amounts or -- even more -- per cup than regular cow’s milk.
Flavors & Varieties
This is where you need to be careful. On its own, soy milk can be a very healthful drink, but often additional sugar and flavors are added which can drive up the sugar content and calories. Any variation that is not labeled “Unsweetened” has added sugar, even the “Original” kind.
To make the vanilla or chocolate soy milk, vanilla extract or chocolate syrup is usually added. As such, you should be cautious of the amount of sugar added when selecting your flavored soy milk. For example, if you want the vanilla flavor, it might be worth getting the unsweetened vanilla version to strike a balance.
Recommended Uses for Soy Milk
Soy milk can be used instead of cow’s milk for many recipes – both savory and sweet. When substituting recipes with soy milk, keep in mind that the level of sweetness may be different than cow’s milk, and especially in baking, the crust may brown differently.
Soy milk can also be used instead of cow’s milk over your cereal and in your coffee. To prevent precipitation of soy milk in your coffee, add the soy milk first, and then add the coffee. Keep in mind that the different flavor of soy milk may be even more prominent here given the simple preparation.
Soy milk has also been gaining popularity as a liquid base for smoothies. It adds a nice flavor and helps boost the protein content, which can help keep you fuller for longer -- especially if the smoothie is a meal replacement.
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