Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Heart—and Soyfoods

Valentine’s Day entertaining is a way to express your love for family, friends or that special someone in your life. When you’re preparing romantic celebration foods, show your love with appetizers, drinks and desserts that offer a better-for-you profile. Soyfoods are a good choice because they provide nutrient-dense plant-based protein. They’re versatile, affordable ingredients that make it easy to update your favorite recipes.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day and hearts, remember that February is also American Heart Month. According to the American Heart Association, in the past several decades fewer Americans have been dying of heart disease and stroke, due to progress in medical therapies for patients with a history of these conditions and from lifestyle changes that help curb the risk. For instance, foods with plant-based soy protein can help lower blood cholesterol levels. In addition, soybean isoflavones may reduce heart disease risk independent of cholesterol levels by directly improving the health of arteries.

One serving of soyfoods — including soymilk, edamame and tofu — provides approximately 7 to 15 grams of high-quality plant-based protein. Unlike many commonly consumed protein-rich foods, soyfoods are also cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. Best of all, soyfoods lend themselves to lots of creative appetizer combos that are just right for serving at Valentine’s Day get-togethers.

The Tempeh Avocado Sushi Roll can kick off any Valentine’s Day celebration with style as guests make their own sushi. Ingredients — available in most large supermarkets — include tempeh (fermented soybean cakes with a mushroom-like flavor) and nori (seaweed sheets), sushi rice, seasoned rice wine vinegar with a little sugar added, soy sauce, avocado and chives. You’ll find complete instructions for this recipe on The Soyfoods Council website at www.thesoyfoodscouncil.com.

Another romantic recipe that appeals to adventurous eaters is Tofu and Shrimp Ceviche, served in decorative glassware and garnished with tortilla chips. The appetizer features firm, pressed tofu, shrimp, diced fresh pineapple, lime juice, chopped onion and jalapeño, and chopped cilantro leaves, if desired, and hot sauce to taste.

Have fun with romantic Valentine’s drinks featuring soymilk, such as a soy-rich recipe for Soy Irish Cream Liqueur. Make your own by combining sweetened condensed milk, half-and-half dairy milk and soymilk, flavored with a little chocolate syrup and vanilla extract, then mixed with Irish whiskey and rum. Or, for a whimsical touch, serve an Edamame Martini with an edamame and tofu-cube garnish as a reminder to include a serving of soyfoods in your diet every day. (A cocktail garnish won’t do it though: For one serving, you’ll need ½ cup of tofu or ½ cup of edamame.) Made in a cocktail shaker, the martini incorporates vodka, cucumber juice, yuzu or lemon juice and simple syrup. Make a garnish by threading a toothpick with 4 to 6 shelled edamame and one small cube of extra-firm pressed tofu wrapped in a slice of pickled ginger.

Sun dried tomato dip is just right for serving with fresh vegetables or crackers. Start with a mix of soft tofu and softened cream cheese, then add ranch dressing seasoning mix, chopped marinated sundried tomatoes, minced onion and garlic powder. The dip is done in a minute when you make it in a food processor or blender. Just chill it for an hour and you’re ready to start a memorable celebration.

And what’s Valentine’s Day without chocolate? The Soyfoods Council offers recipes for easy chocolate-rich desserts such as Chocolate Mousse made with silken tofu, cocoa powder and other flavorings, or Vegan Dark Chocolate Truffles, made with silken tofu, melted dark chocolate chips, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

The Soyfoods Council knows that healthful eating isn’t your main objective on Valentine’s Day, but isn’t it satisfying to know that soyfoods and simple soy recipes are so readily available for anyone who has their heart set on making wise dietary choices? The Soyfoods Council offers a wide variety of recipes for entertaining, as well as healthful appetizer ideas the whole family will enjoy. For meal ideas, nutrition data and detailed information about soy and heart health, visit The Soyfoods Council website.

Tofu and Shrimp Ceviche

  • 1 pound cooked small shrimp (or large shrimp, chopped)
  • 8 oz. firm tofu, pressed
  • ¾ cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 2/3 cup lime juice
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves, optional
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Tortilla chips, for garnish

In large bowl gently mix all ingredients together with a rubber spatula. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve in decorative glasses and garnish with tortilla chips.

  • Yields: 6 appetizer servings

Sun-Dried Tomato Tofu Dip

  • 8 ounces soft tofu
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 package (1 oz.) ranch seasoning dressing mix
  • 1/3 cup chopped, drained, marinated sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Vegetable dippers or crackers

Blend or process tofu until smooth. In a medium bowl combine blended tofu, softened cream cheese, and seasoning mix until smooth. Stir in chopped tomatoes, dried onion, and garlic powder. Cover and chill 1 hour. Serve with vegetable dippers or crackers.

  • Yields: 2 cups

Elizabeth’s Chocolate Pudding Pies

  • 1 16-ounce container silken firm tofu
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup Scharffen Berger Cocoa or other Best Quality Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 6 individual, prepared graham crust pie shells
  • ½ pint of heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • Fresh raspberries for garnish
  • Shaved chocolate or mini chocolate chips for garnish

Combine tofu, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, vanilla and corn syrup in a blender. Blend until smooth, then chill for 30 minutes.

Spoon into individual pie shells and chill loosely covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Top with whipped cream and garnish with raspberries and shaved chocolate just before serving.

  • Yields: 6 mini pies