Monday, March 20, 2017

Flavor Profile: Coconut Aminos

Soy sauce is so obiquitous. It’s in every Asian restaurant and probably in everyone’s refrigerator. For anyone wanting, or needing, to stay away from soy, there is an alternative!

Soy doesn’t work for everyone. It is considered a common allergen and will appear on labels as such. When doing a detoxifying diet or anything of that sort, you’ll typically be asked to give up the usual suspected allergens: gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, nuts, etc. Some people do find that they are allergic to soy, while for others it causes digestive upset. Of course, I’m in the latter camp.

As I’m sure you know, soy comes in various forms: tofu, edamame, tempeh, miso, natto, soy sauce, and soy lecithin, just to name a few. Soy, and especially soy lecithin, is in nearly everything these days. Why is that? Because it’s cheap. And it’s not as benign as they make it out to be. And unfortunately, over 90% of the soy in the U.S. is genetically modified. Something to rethink, isn’t it?

For as many articles as you read about the wonders of soy and how good it is for you, there are just as many that claim it the work of the devil. What’s clear is that soy is a phytoestrogen, a plant-based estrogen that mimics estrogen in the body. If you have uterine fibroids, for instance, which are the result of an abundance of estrogen, you’ll probably be wise to avoid consuming more. Anything that stimulates more estrogen has been associated with other conditions such as breast cancer and endometriosis as well. There is also some research on soy messing with the thyroid, and that it contains phytates that are enzyme-inhibitors, blocking mineral absorption in the gut, etc. etc.

Soy Beans
Many nutritionists, however, feel that organic soy, especially fermented soy, can actually be an important addition to our diet. Tamari, for that reason, would be a far healthier choice than regular soy sauce, as it’s made from the brine of fermented miso and is chock full of lactobacilli and other good bacteria.

You do the homework and decide for yourself. I’m not here to tell you to avoid it or consume it, but do some reading and make an informed decision. Again, for many of us, it’s not the best choice.

Although I always liked the taste of soy sauce I eventually found it too salty. Eventually I chose the low sodium variety and then thought I was doing myself a favor by switching to a "health food alternative” called Bragg’s Amino Acids. Recently a devoted reader of mine sent me some information on this stuff and I was appalled at how it is manufactured. The fact that it calls itself a health food is really laughable. Shows you how you really need to read up on everything! Don’t make assumptions that what you are eating is healthy. If it’s in any way processed, check it out.

An alternative to soy sauce that I have only in the last year come to try is something called coconut aminos. It tastes really good, is a bit lighter than soy sauce, and is made with only 2 ingredients, coconut sap and organic sea salt. It’s perfect for that soy-y flavor needed for Asian dishes, but also any dish for which that umami flavor really calls out for.

This is the brand I typically get, but there are a few. As usual, read the labels and pick one that has only 2 ingredients. You can find coconut aminos at most health food stores and Sprouts Farmers Markets, if you have one near you.

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