All About Soy
Tofu, Soy Sauce, Soy Paste, Natto, and Soy Sprout

There seem to be a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about tofu, soy sauce, and soy paste among Americans in general. So I decided to clarify a bit (with recipes).

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Soy Nutrition Facts 101

Soy is rich in protein and nutrition. It is wonderful wholesome food source if people keep in mind with one thing – soy needs to be soaked, sprouted and/or fermented before cooked and eaten.

Dried soy has phytic acid (=phytate) which blocks the absorption of minerals in the body, and enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors can lead to protein assimilation problems in those who consume unfermented soy product frequently.

Phytic acid, trypsin inhibitor (=protease inhibitor), and other enzyme inhibitors are present in legumes and soy is present as protective measure as a result of evolutionary processes, so that the seed will not be eaten by herbivores until it germinates. By the time it does, it has spent considerable amount of nutrients in sprouting. It become less attractive food to animals, therefore not much phytic acid is needed for plant to prevent itself from eaten by animals. Seeds are amazing natural wonders in that as soon as they hit water, the enzyme reaction starts from within (except very few seeds – human don't tend to eat them anyhow).

Other unsoaked grains and seeds also have these enzyme inhibitors, and they have it for the same reason as the soy bean does.

The phytic acids (=phytates), trypsin inhibitor, and enzyme inhibitors in all grains and legumes can be deactivated by soaking, sprouting, and fermenting, but not by heating or blending. If you look at tofu making process, before it is cooked, it is always soaked (some westerners pulverize soy and skip the soaking process to make tofu – this is a no, no!). .

This is crucial process in tofu making as it deactivates phytic acid. Never consume dry soy bean as is and cook the dry soy bean as frequent eating like that can lead to mineral deficiencies.

For full details of soy nutrition, click here.

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Some people mistakenly think tofu is raw food, it is not! Tofu is made out of boiled soy. How firm tofu is determined by how much water is squeezed out after tofu coagulant is formed. There are no difference in ingredients. Stick with plain tofu (that is silken, regular, firm). Avoid buying any tofu that has been marinated or added any kind of flavors to avoid artificial flavors. If you know for sure that the type of marinate tofu you are buying is from all plant derived natural ingredient, then go ahead. And of course, try to buy organic tofu if you can.

People say tofu is tasteless, but freshly well made organic tofu actually taste better then cottage cheese. There is advantage of eating tofu instead of soy beside the taste and softer texture. Soy has 40% protein contents but only about 50% of that 40% protein is absorbed in our body when soy is eaten directly. Whereas in the case of tofu, over 95% of protein is absorbed.

Any grains and legumes have organic compounds that prevent digestion when it is not soaked in water or sprouted. However, as soon as these seeds hit water, enzymatic reaction starts and the substances that prevents digestion also starts immediately. This way, the seeds themselves can digest nutrition from their own body in order to sprout. This is why soaking soy before making tofu is such an essential step because it actually increase soy's nutrient absorption rate.

When tofu is being made, it is soaked from 6-24 hours depends on weather. This process is essential for human consumption of soy, legume and any kinds of seeds because of digestion resistant substances, which I mentioned earlier. It is also high in calcium due to the bittern used in the tofu making process. Easy to digest, high on calcium, safe protein – it is excellent nutritional source especially for children, sick, and elderly. Make sure you buy tofu without any additives, except magnesium chloride, which is bittern.

Bittern is bitter solution which remains after evaporating salt from seawater. It has concentrated calcium, magnesium, iodides, chlorides, sulfates, bromides, and other substances originally in the seawater. If any tofu brand says nigari in its ingredient list, that is same as bittern. Nigari is Japanese name for bittern.

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Soy Sauce and Soy Paste Nutrition

Common factory manufactured soy sauce and soy paste does not have all the health benefit unlike that are traditionally made using organic ingredient. What's more, these factory soy sauce and paste contain numbers of carcinogenic substances.

Organically made soy sauce and paste without any artificial additives have abundance of mineral, vitamin B 12, and 10 times anti-oxidant then red wine. There are many more nutrition benefits from organically made soy sauce and soy paste, especially for vegans and vegetarians due to rich in vitamin B12, vitamin K2, minerals, and other nutrients.

Click here to get organic raw soy sauce.

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How to make Soy Sauce and Soy Paste

Coming soon.

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Natto Nutrition

Natto is called superfood for a good reason.

The sticky substance on natto, is nattokinase which prevents stroke and Alzheimer.

Abundant potassium in natto prevents sodium getting too high, which also prevents high blood pressure. Lecithin and linoleic acid in natto lowers blood cholesterol.

Natto also has abundant vitamin E, which prevents shoulder problem and women's menstrual problems. Also vitamin B and E complex in soybean helps with fatigue.

Natto has variety of vitamin that improves skin condition and also the fibers in natto helps bowl movement. Natto contains soy oligosaccharide which increases bifidobacteria which is beneficial for human guts. As a matter of fact, among people who eat natto on daily basis, this is the most noticeable effect of eating natto.

Natto bacteria are suppressing harmful bacteria. It also is abundant in enzyme, and magnesium, zinc etc., which acts as anti bacterial agents. It is worthy to note that beneficial bacteria present in food made from animal, when they reach to gut, only 20-30% survives where as beneficial bacteria present in vegetarian source, when they reach the gut, 90% of them survives.

It has been also discovered that recently, eating fermented food helps to rebuild internal guts.

Natto prevent osteoporosis and cavities because it has abundant vitamin K2 which is vitamin that directs calcium into the teeth and bone. K2 also is related to blood clotting, so for the people who takes anticoagulant agent should consult with doctors before eating natto on regular basis. Natto is also rich in essential amino acids.

Natto slow down aging. 80-90% of the cause of aging is due to free radicals. In natto, contains abundant antioxidant substances such as isoflavon. Also natto has excellent effect on preventing blood vessels.

Soy as itself, nutrition cannot be absorbed well because of phytate which are presents in many legumes and seeds. This is evolutionary development in order to protect seeds from getting eaten by herbivores so that it can live to germinate. The phytate can be broken down either by sprouting or fermenting. It cannot disappear by heating.

The protein in natto is absorbable 80-90%. Soy also has variety of vitamins, irons, with rich in fiber. Also isoflavon which is rich in natto prevents heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer. Saponin and lecithin in natto clear up brain and prevent memory loss, and help excrete excess salt from body.

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How to Make Natto

I have looked many ways of making natto on the web. People generally say one need rice straw or koji culture to make natto, but that's not necessary. One can simply ferment the cooked soybean and natto is made.

If anyone is worried about getting wrong kind of fungi, then there is simply solution for this. Get raw soy paste – you can get this from Whole Foods or over the internet. My favorite brand is Westbrae or Miso Master. Westbrae do not sell their product over the internet, but Miso Master do.

You can get Miso Master soy paste from size 8oz to 40 pounds. They make you to choose 3 day delivery because they want to stay their product fresh during transportation.

Any of these miso would replace koji, but if you are trying soy paste for the first time, try brown rice miso or mellow white miso. You only need about a table spoon to make a batch of natto.

First, wash soybean then soak them in 6-24 hours (6 hours during summer 12 hours during spring/fall and 24 hours in winter). Boil it until they would become soft. A good indicator is, when soybean is pressed between fingers, if it crushes, than it is done.

Drain the water. Don't throw water away – use this water to make soy paste soup. Mix the cooked soy with a table spoon of miso. You can do this when it is still fairly hot. Cover it up – don't make it airtight though – and put it somewhere warm overnight.

Next morning, you will see that white fungus has been grown on the top. Mix it up again and put it in refrigerator. This can last for some month as long as you do not contaminate it with other fungi. So make sure to only use clean dried spoon to take out natto and soy paste.

You can also use natto as soy paste replacement by crushing and mix it with salt. Koreans call this chung-gook-jang. This is a type of soy paste you can make dipping and soup with just like regular soy paste. Chung-gook-jang can last many months as well.

Technically, as long as they are well taken care of, soy paste and soy sauce can last forever. It has been Korean tradition that when soy paste and soy sauce amount dwindle, they do not discard the left overs, but simply add more soy and salt water on the same earthen pot to make more soy paste and soy sauce.

In some traditional restaurants where they make their own soy sauce and soy paste, they have been aged for many decades.

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Soy Sprout Nutrition

Coming soon.

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How to Grow Soy Sprout

Coming soon.

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Soy Sprout Recipes

Coming soon.

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