The Joy of Soy

My father has been selling seeds to farmers for the past 20 years. Because of this, I never considered soybeans in terms of anything other than “bags sold.” When I first heard the word “edamame,” I wondered about this exotic food. Upon discovering that it was indeed the same seed that my father had sold in bulk throughout my childhood, I laughed out loud. How could something so commonplace to farmers become so exotic to the rest of the population?
       The appeal of this legume for consumption, as well as in skin care, is apparent. According to the Soyfoods Association of North America, 30% of Americans consume soy foods or beverages once a month or more. Along with nutritional benefits that include omega-3 fatty acids and isoflavones1, soy also contains components that are good for the skin, including protein, lipids, carbohydrates and various antioxidant-rich vitamins.2

In the kitchen
       Soybeans can be classified as either vegetable or field types. The vegetable type is the variety that is widely used in cooking. It has a mild, nutty flavor and is served in a variety of ways, whether boiled and salted in the pod as edamame, or processed as soy meal, flour, milk, tofu or oil.1
       At Kohler Waters Spa in Kohler, Wisconsin, a ginger soy dressing enhances the Thai Beef Wrap offered as an entrée. The Birdwing Spa of Litchfield, Minnesota, not only serves soy-based dishes, it provides a hands-on demonstration titled “Soy Secrets.” Agave Spa at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers Soy Ginger Broth Braised Chicken with Fennel and Roma Tomatoes from its Pacific Rim spa cuisine menu. And for a healthy and tasty entrée, check out the delicious recipe from Executive Chef Kim Madsen of Jesmond, British Columbia’s Echo Valley Ranch & Spa: Toasted Tofu & Mushroom.

In the spa
       Soy’s popularity in skin care treatments and products comes from its ability to moisturize, smooth and soften skin texture, even skin tone and reduce the appearance of unwanted hair.2 The Soy Soy Body treatment at Gerard’s The Spa in Bellmore, New York, features organic soy to tighten and moisturize skin. At Sage Springs Club Spa at the Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Oregon, the Healthy Skin Sugar Scrub is topped off with an application of soy and shea body butter in a choice of scents. Clients can soothe their troubles away with the Chai Soy Anti-Stress Back Treatment offered at Vancouver’s Wedgewood Hotel & Spa, which features a stimulating soy mud mask that focuses on the upper back and shoulders. At Eastsound, Washington’s Rosario Resort & Spa, the Lavender Fields body treatment begins with a soothing exfoliation using soy and lavender. And the perfect end of the Westlake Village, California, Four Seasons Hotel’s Ultimate Indulgence is a manicure and pedicure that utilizes Asian soy milk and green tea.
       To extend these service experiences to the home, products such as soy-based candles, are available. Casoya, JK Soul Salts and Kashwére all offer soy candles for the spa. Some are even attached to great causes, such as Aveda’s Light the Way Shampure candle, which helps support Global Greengrants Fund’s clean water projects, and issimo international’s Loyal candle, with proceeds donated to The Humane Society of the United States. Other professional products include American International Industries’ GiGi’s Soy Crème Wax, which is anti-inflammatory while keeping skin moisturized and protected. Ancient Secrets, Inc. offers a Lavender Soy Body Lotion and Exfoliation, and Nature Pure Labs provides Soy Beauty, a line that causes skin receptors to renew, lift and replenish hormonal skin. Also available are Revival’s soy snack bars, which were recently reformulated with more protein, calcium and fiber.

A spa staple
       Clearly no longer a farmer’s secret, soy has become a major player in healthy cuisine, glowing skin and a staple in spas worldwide. Take the opportunity to offer this nutrient-packed powerhouse in your spa through delicious and healthy food, snacks, products and treatments, and share the joy of soy with your clients. 
(All accessed March 29, 2007)

Toasted Tofu & Mushroom

From Executive Chef Kim Madsen at Echo Valley Ranch & Spa in Jesmond, British Columbia, Canada.

Makes 2 servings

Sesame or olive oil
2 blocks of hard tofu
1 package (180 grams) shitaki mushrooms
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon shoyu soya sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 teaspoon mitsuba (honeywort)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

1. Drain the tofu well and fry in sesame or olive oil. Pour enough oil to cover bottom of skillet. Place on a paper towel to drain, and cut the blocks into six portions.
2. Cut away the root cluster on the mushrooms, wash well and slice.
3. Heat chicken stock in a saucepan.
4. Add mushrooms to chicken stock. When it comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer.
5. Add the shoyu, mirin and mitsuba to season.
6. Simmer for 30 minutes.
7. Taste. If too salty, add water.
8. Dissolve cornstarch in a tablespoon of water, and add along with the tofu.
9. Cook for two minutes, then serve.

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