Tacos Tonight

“Heart-healthy” is a classic February tagline. Not only because the 14th will find us celebrating Valentine’s Day, but also because February is officially deemed American Heart Month.

Keeping your heart healthy includes eating good-for-you foods such as produce and whole grains. Soyfoods were given an official thumbs-up for heart health in 1999 when the Food and Drug Administration approved a soy heart-health claim for foods that met certain criteria. Specifically, each serving of the product needs to contain 6.25 grams or more of soy protein and less than 3 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, and 20 milligrams cholesterol.

This claim states:

“25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of (name of food) provides ____ grams of soy protein.”

General recommendations were to consume 6.25 grams of soy protein four times a day, to reach the 25 gram total.

gunderson-feb-2Getting soy protein into a daily diet is as easy as grabbing a glass of soymilk in the morning, handful of soynuts for a snack, and serving of cooked frozen edamame for supper. Other ways to sneak soy into the diet include using soynut butter on sandwiches, drinking tofu smoothies, or stirring canned soybeans into chili or pasta salad.

Another soyfood—textured soy protein or TSP—can also help contribute to your soy protein tally. Most often used to replace ground meat in dishes such as lasagna, burgers, chili, and casseroles, TSP is defatted soy flour made into a dough, then extruded at high temperatures to form nugget shapes. The final product can be reconstituted in liquid and subbed in for ground meat. It’s available—either in bulk or prepackaged—at natural food stores or in well-stocked natural food sections of mainstream grocery stores.

The following recipe for soyified tacos substitutes reconstituted TSP in for half of the ground beef. It allows the taco filling to retain the texture, chew, flavor, and savory of beef, while also cutting fat and cholesterol. Even better, TSP brings the heart-healthy properties of soy protein. Using TSP to partially replace ground meats will go a long way in keeping both your heart and your taste buds happy.

Soyified Tacos

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1/2 cup textured soy protein (TSP)

8 ounces ground lean beef

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

8 taco shells or 8-inch flour tortillas

1 (8-ounce) bag shredded taco cheese blend (2 cups)

2 cups shredded lettuce

1 large tomato, chopped

Sour cream, salsa, and other favorite toppings


In medium bowl, combine tomato sauce and TSP; stir well to completely coat.

In large skillet, combine beef, onion, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Sauté over medium heat until beef is browned and onion is tender. Stir in TSP mixture; cook until heated through.

Spoon beef mixture into taco shells. Top evenly with remaining ingredients as desired. Makes 8 tacos.