Soya surprise

COMING FROM a generation that never thought of food except in terms of taste, appearance, smell and many unexamined, hand-me-down beliefs, in the good and the bad of it, the news of a 15-month-old baby having milk allergy was incredible. Hitherto the belief held was in the supreme goodness of milk.And to put a child on a milk free diet was unthinkable.

This led to research of Soya and Soya milk. All this was thirty-five years ago. Thirty years ago Soya came as a substitute for milk. Today it stands respectably, on its own feet and not as a mere replacement or a substitute. While there is no immediate risk of milk becoming unfashionable, it will relieve some 30 per cent of the population of a variety of distressing diseases, mostly associated with our living style. Increased fat levels, for example are known to lead to several medical conditions including asthma, skin and heart diseases besides stroke, cancers in various parts of the body and that great upper class scourge, obesity.

Apart from its low fat content, Soya actually helps weight loss! Rich in isoflavons it inhibits the human body's inclination to store fat deposits. The presence of isoflavons ensures that your body converts fewer calories in the food that you eat and by reducing insulin levels, inhibits fat retention. Furthermore, by increasing the metabolic rate it burns up fat cells sooner. In a word, without even bothering to get up from your couch and running round the block, you can burn up your fat cells.

Soya has a most interesting mix of amino acids, vitamins and trace minerals that it is about as close as you can get to a complete food.

To an exclusive Soya diet add a multivitamin pill or two and you will need little else to keep you in good health! With its near neutral taste you can make it masquerade as meat, fish, milk and curd. In its raw untreated form, Soya has toxins that can be removed by the simple process of soaking it in water for three hours, removing the outer husk and sun-drying the beans. The beans you now see at the grocer and supermarkets are already treated and the process does not have to be repeated. Soya chunks are what is left after the milk is extracted and, if the meaty feel is important to you, the chunks with a little creative and inexpensive culinary jugglery, can be cooked and flavoured to pass of as mutton, beef or fish.

Other Soya products like Tofu are available. This an versatile avatar of Soya, tastes and looks like paneer and can be turned into, well just about any thing you can think of - kabbab, stuffed chapatti, parratha, palak-tofu (mimics palak paneer exquisitely) and tofu-adda payasam! Now, can you beat that!