Individuals seeking dairy free products will find soy cheese alternatives, soy yogurt, soy sour cream, soy cream cheese, and frozen soymilk desserts that are free of lactose and milk protein. New food production technology and new varieties of soybeans result in new flavors that rival cow’s milk and dairy products.
In the Market
Soy dairy free products are found throughout the store – in refrigerated cases with dairy and juice products, in the produce section, and in the health food or “natural food” aisles. Soy frozen desserts appear in freezer cases along with ice cream and other frozen desserts and come in a variety of delicious flavors to choose from.
Soy cheese alternatives are now available in a number of traditional cheese varieties such as mozzarella, cheddar, pepper jack, jalapeño, which can be found pre-sliced, shredded, or in blocks. Soy parmesan, cream cheese, and sour cream alternatives are also on the market.
Soy “yogurt,” or cultured soy, is generally found alongside traditional dairy yogurts and in similar flavors and sizes.
- Hain Celestial Group, Inc.: Yves, The Good Slices, The Good Shreds, SoyDream Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts
- DanoneWave Foods: Silk Cultured Soy, Silk Live! Smoothies
- WholeSoy&Co: WholeSoy & Co Yogurt and Smoothies in a variety of flavors
Give Me Five
- Make a ‘smoothie’ blending frozen fruit and soy yogurt.
- Top a fresh mixed greens salad with shredded soy cheese.
- Create flavored soy cream cheese by mixing in fruit jam or preserves.
- Create a healthy sandwich using soy style cheeses with soy deli slices.
- End a meal on a healthy note with a soy frozen dessert.
In the Kitchen
All soy dairy free products should be handled like any perishable dairy product. Follow “use by” dates on packages.
Soy sour cream works best in dips, toppings and garnishes. It does not hold up well in cooking on the stove top, but can work as an ingredient in baked goods. Soy cream cheese works well in all types of recipes, including cooking and baking.
Soy cheeses have different melting characteristics. Those containing casein, a milk protein, melt better and stretch to make a more “cheesy” product. Soy cheese doesn’t contain lactose, a milk sugar. For vegan choices, soy cheese made without casein is available.
Expect to do some culinary experimenting if converting recipes to use soy cheese. Recipes from soy cheese companies or soy food cookbooks may be your best bet.
Soy dairy free products are lactose free and are a good source of essential fatty acids. They contain no cholesterol and little or no saturated fat. These alternatives can be good sources of high quality protein, B vitamins, potassium, iron, dietary fiber, and bio-active components, including isoflavones. Many soymilks are fortified with calcium, vitamins A and D, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamin B12. Important bio-active components, found naturally in soybeans are being studied in relation to relieving menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, maintaining healthy bones, and preventing prostate, breast cancers, and colorectal cancer. The content and profile of bio-active components varies from product to product, depending upon how much soy protein is in the food and how the soy protein is processed.
Soy dairy free products are a healthy, high-quality source of protein that contain all essential amino acids needed for growth. In addition to the excellent nutritional value of soy protein, scientists have found that consumption of soy protein can contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease. The FDA has approved a health claim stating that “25 grams of soy protein in a daily diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol can help reduce total and LDL cholesterol that is moderately high to high.”
The Making of Soy Dairy Free Products
Soy cheese alternatives may be made from tofu or soymilk or a combination of soymilk with tofu and soy protein isolates. Soy cheese comes in a variety of hard and soft forms and in several flavors like mozzarella, Monterey Jack and cheddar.
Soy yogurt is a creamy, yogurt-like food made from soymilk, various sweeteners, and fruits. It comes in many flavors and may contain active cultures. Cultured soy can also be packaged in plastic bottles as a yogurt-like drink or smoothie. Some soy yogurts may be fortified with calcium and other nutrients.
Frozen soy desserts are made from soymilk, soy yogurt, tofu or soy proteins. Soy desserts are available as dairy free substitutes and retailed in pints or quarts as well as novelties including bars and sandwiches. Many soy-based frozen desserts use alternative sweeteners like brown rice syrup, fruit concentrates and dehydrated cane juice instead of regular sugar. Most of these desserts contain no artificial flavors or colors, which today is true of soy dairy free products sold through the natural food stores and natural food sections in supermarkets.
|Cultured Soy Yogurt (Vanilla) 6oz serving||% Daily Value||Soy Cheese1 cup serving||% Daily Value||Soy Frozen Dessert_c serving*||% Daily Value|
|Total Fat||2 g||3%||4.6 g||5%||5g||8%|
|Saturated Fat||0 g||0%||0.7 g||3%||<1g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrates||25 g||8%||4 g||1%||21g||7%|
|Protein||4 g||8%||7 g||14%||1g||2%|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0%||0 mg||0%||0mg||0%|
|Dietary Fiber||1 g||4%||0 g||0%||2g||8%|
|Calcium||300 mg||30%||106 mg||11%||0mg||0%|
|Potassium||170 mg||5%||112 mg||3%|
|Phosphorus||272 mg||27%||125 mg||13%|
|Folate||N/A||12 mg||3%||0 mg||0%|
|Source: Cultured Soy Yogurt: White Wave
|Soy Dessert: *Avg of Turtle Mountain’s, Frozen Soy Dream in Creamy Vanilla & Imagine Foods’, Soy Dream in French Vanilla
Check package label or contact the manufacturer directly to obtain the isoflavone content.
|Exchanges: Soy yogurt – 1 non-fat milk + _ Carbohydrate
Cheese – 1 Medium Fat Meat
Soy Frozen Dessert – 1 _ non-fat milk + 1 Fat
Source: Exchange Lists for Meal Planning, 2nd edition, 2002.
The American Diabetes Association/The American Dietetic Association.