Soy Foods Month

Here in Iowa, we are all too familiar with the tilling and planting that occurs this time of year in preparation for the harvest of soybeans during the fall months.

We may be less familiar with the nutritional powerhouse that exists in soybeans. The month of April is National Soy Foods Month, and is a time to reflect and highlight the nutritional profile of soybeans.

Soybeans are harvested and separated into two components; meal and oil. Soybean meal provides nutrition to the food that feeds us – livestock feed; primarily cattle, hogs, and poultry. In fact, according to Michigan State University extension, ninety-eight percent of soybean meal is used for animal feed. Soybean oil on the other hand, is largely used for human consumption. Soybean oil is very prevalent on supermarket shelves. It’s common to find soybean oil on many ingredient lists of common food items in your kitchen.

So what are some typical Soy Foods? Many hear the word soy, and immediately think of the food that is considered a staple in the vegan community, Tofu. This vegan staple is important in that it is the only well-known plant-based source of complete protein. Animal protein such as beef, pork, fish, poultry, milk and eggs are the more commonly consumed sources of complete protein. If it weren’t for soy, complementing proteins would be the only way to ensure complete protein intake for the non-animal product eating community.

There are many non-dairy milk alternatives available today. When comparing these alternatives to one another, Soymilk is most similar to dairy milk regarding its nutritional profile. This is largely because of the protein content soy provides that is lacking in the other non-dairy alternatives.

Edamame has gained popularity in recent years. You may be familiar with this dish if you frequent Asian dining experiences. These green round beans are typically presented in pods at restaurants. You can also find edamame in the frozen section of your supermarket, ready to be steamed, or if consumed as a snack food, dry roasted, shelled edamame is popular and available as well. You may also come across soynuts when frequenting the snack aisle. While edamame reflects the immature soybean plant; prepared while in the pod; soy nuts reflect the mature soybean plant, prepared once removed from the pod.   Both are great sources of complete plant-based protein.

The season of Spring has officially sprung. Why not “spring” into health and create this simple, soy-ful salad featured from the The Iowa Soyfoods Council.

Edamame with Cranberries, Feta and Basil


  1. 1 – 16 ounce bag frozen shelled edamame

  2. ½ cup dried cranberries

  3. ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil

  5. 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  6. ½ cup crumbled feta cheese


  1. Cook edamame in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Pat dry.

  2. Toss edamame, cranberries, basil, olive oil, and pepper together in a medium bowl. Gently stir in feta cheese. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Sources: Michigan State University Extension (2013, October 8). Where do all these soybeans go?

The Soy Foods Council (2018). Edamame with Cranberries, Feta and Basil.

Blog provided by: Natalie Hoefing, RD, LD


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