Nov 28 2011
For those of you who’ve worked with me, heard me lecture or read my book, you know I don’t believe in relying on soy products, such a tofu, for plant-based protein. There are some compelling reasons for this, but I'll save them for a later discussion. Suffice it to say that raw, sprouted or processed soybeans can cause more problems than they solve and should not be relied upon as a protein mainstay – and now for the exceptions!
It’s generally recognized that fermenting the soybeans removes the hazards. There are just 3 soy products that are fermented and you guessed it, Miso is one of them!
Miso comes in varying degrees of aging, from mellow white to deeper flavored dark red. Some miso is made from rice or barley, but the soybean miso offers twice the protein. I am very fond of the mellow white soy variety. It’s slightly sweet and lends itself to a wide variety of uses, especially as a substitute for Parmesan cheese, because of its similar color and saltiness
Miso offers beneficial enzymes and probiotic (“friendly bacteria”) cultures that are great for digestion and gut health, much the way yogurt is, but from a plant based source and with 5 times the protein (gram for gram)! One serving of miso (about a tablespoon) offers about the same amount of protein as a 1/2 cup of yogurt. This makes miso a great way to amp up protein intake when appetites are small. It's also going to enhance flavor for compromised taste buds.
Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the health benefits and flavors of miso:
- Miso soup – heat some low sodium vegetable broth, add a heavy pinch of toasted nori crinkles and stir in a tablespoon miso until dissolved. Voilà! Soup.
- Use in place of Parmesan in your favorite Pesto recipe.
- Toss pasta noodles with olive and miso to distribute evenly, then dress with your favorite sauce.
It’s important to note that miso should not be cooked, boiled or otherwise heated above 120°F, because the enzymes and cultures will become destroyed. So it’s best to use when “finishing” a dish.
Give it a try and post your results below!