Skepticism crossed several students' faces when I announced the
program was about soybeans and their many food uses. I could tell
doubts still lingered as we discussed the various food forms made
from soybeans. Doubts grew larger as a container of tofu passed
around the class, and we talked about the long shelf life of aseptic
soymilk. The soybean's part in the fight against heart disease,
cancer and osteoporosis sparked little attention. Finally, I asked
if anyone had eaten any soybeans lately. No hands shot into the
air and most gave me a look that said, "Lady, you must be kidding."
However, their looks changed as they learned that Twinkies, French
fries, and many of the their favorite foods contain soybeans or
Now came the ultimate test. Could I persuade high school students
to try soymilk, tofu and soy burger crumbles? In the product's original
state, highly unlikely. Disguised as the foods they loved, you bet.
Keeping in mind teenage food preferences, I selected recipes that
mimicked their favorites. To expose the students to as many soyfoods
as possible, I picked a variety of recipes. Hot & Spicy Burrito
Meat, Roasted Soy Nuts, Cherry Almond Muffins, Creamy Italian Dressing,
Cranberry Raspberry Smoothie, Cajun Tofu & Roasted Red Pepper Pizza,
and Breakfast Pita Pocket seemed to offer the greatest teen appeal.
What teenager could turn down pizza, Mexican food, snacks, and dessert?
None, I hoped.
We started our cooking adventure with the Cajun Tofu & Roasted
Red Pepper Pizza. All was going well until it came time to add the
tofu mixture. Interest turned into apprehension. Students asked,
"What does tofu taste like?" My honest reply was that served plain,
tofu was not exactly tasty. However, with additional ingredients
mixed in, it could be quite good. I assured them that this tofu
had plenty of spice and was not plain at all. Next came the roasted
peppers and finally the mozzarella cheese. Into the oven it went
and on to the next recipe. The Hot & Spicy Burrito Meat was quickly
made up and left with a student to stir until heated through. By
the time I measured the soymilk for the Cranberry Raspberry Smoothie,
the classroom was filled with the delicious smells of pizza and
burritos. If any doubts remained about trying these dishes, the
aromas coming from the stoves erased them. Anything that smelled
that good could not taste that bad. Reluctance gave way to a sense
of adventure. A couple of students even decided to sample the soymilk
plain. However, all wanted a sample of the thick shake-like Smoothie
that I poured from the blender. Enthusiasm for soyfoods had caught
The teacher served the pizza and burritos amid ooohs and aaahs.
They looked good. They smelled good. Did they taste good? The pizza
vanished, and between mouthfuls the students assured me that it
was "awesome". The burritos received mixed reviews, but most agreed
that they were flavorful. Next on the menu came the Cherry Almond
Muffins, Roasted Soybeans and Creamy Italian Dressing served with
raw vegetables. Most of the vegetables disappeared without the dressing,
so maybe that was not the best of choices. The students declared
the Roasted Soybeans tasty and the Cherry Almond Muffins made with
soy flour an instant hit. That only left the Breakfast Pita Pocket
to try. None of the students had heard of soynut butter. After trying
it, they proclaimed soynut butter better than peanut butter. Combining
it with apple butter and apple slices in a pita quarter only enhanced
its flavor. This won as their favorite.
The bell rang dismissing class and reluctantly the students left.
"Thank you," and "That was great," came from those disappearing
through the door. As new students came in, they questioned those
leaving as to what had been happening. Their answers surprised me.
The students enthusiastically shared information about the different
forms of soybeans they tried. They even told the others about the
everyday foods they consume containing soy products. Then they encouraged
them to taste what soyfoods remained. The new students could not
believe that these tasty products were soybean foods. All of the
food disappeared in short time. Even some of the boys requested
recipes. The soy lesson did not end there as the teacher asked for
a recipe for soymilk ice cream. She thought it would make an excellent
addition to the next week's lesson on homemade ice creams.
I came to convince one class to try soyfoods and ended up with
two classes of soybean enthusiasts. The facts about high nutritional
values and health benefits that I presented could not compete with
the actual product prepared in a delicious way. That day, soyfood
did the talking.
All of the recipes mentioned in this article are available here: