Saturday 1 September 2012

Health Benefits Of Soy Products & Satay Tofu In Chilli Shrimp Recipe

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Tofu is one of my favourite things in the world.  This is an excellent vegetarian meat alternative and is incredibly easy to prepare if you find yourself cooking for one.  When your other half is painting the town red this weekend, use this opportunity to fill up on isoflavones.  To find out the nutritional properties and health benefits, read below.

So what are isoflavones?  They are a type of ‘plant’ phytoestrogen resembling the chemical structure of human estrogen.  Their predominant role is in the activation of estrogen receptors.  They display anti-inflammatory activity and therefore may play a role in the prevention of metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis and various other inflammatory diseases, as quoted in Nutrients in 2010. 

Isoflavones can be found in soy products but also in chickpeas and other legumes.

If you are thinking tofu is ‘boring’ think again.  This soy based food is prepared from mashed soy beans.  It is a great source of protein, containing calcium and iron.  Soy products have been quoted to improve menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes but the evidence is not concrete in this area. 

Soy isoflavones have been reported to significantly improve your cholesterol profile by reducing LDL cholesterol as reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Reductions in cholesterol were larger in those with very high cholesterol levels compared to individuals with a normal cholesterol profile.

Soy isoflavone consumption may protect against breast cancer, but this area is highly controversial. 

For the rest of you who just like tofu here’s a quick and tasty recipe if you are cooking for one. This makes a large portion and is perfect if it’s end of the week and your fridge is looking a little bit bare.


300g firm tofu, cut into rectangles

1 red or green bell pepper (capsicum)
2 tablespoons satay sauce
1 tablespoon crispy prawn chilli
2 galangal pieces
2 – 3 kaffir leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried lemon grass
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
 3 teaspoons water
100g rice noodle, boiled


Heat a large non-stick saucepan and place the tofu pieces turning occasionally to ensure that it gets browned.  Check and turn often or it may stick to the pan.  Do not add oil as the aim is to try and remove as much moisture from the tofu as possible.  After a couple of minutes, also add capsicum pieces to the pan. 

Once the tofu is almost brown, coat evenly with the satay sauce and crispy prawn chilli pieces.  Do this gently whilst it is in the pan.  Add the galangal pieces, crushed kaffir leaves and lemon grass, along with a few teaspoons of water.  Cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring without breaking up the tofu.  Finally add the rice noodles and ensure that this is coated with the spicy satay sauce. 

Variation – For a vegetarian option, do not use the chilli shrimp.  You can also add pineapple pieces to balance the heat from the chilli shrimp.

This recipe is milk, egg and wheat free.

How do you enjoy tofu lovely readers?  Please comment below, I love hearing from you.

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