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Carb Solutions: You Say Chorizo, I Say Soyrizo

Image of Drunken Soyrizo & Bean Soup
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources; not to mention the effect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].

Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the blood stream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate theses calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods that have low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.

  • The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
  • The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
While it is true that many traditional dishes enjoyed during Cinco de Mayo celebrations and offered as standard fare on most restaurant menus specializing in Mexican cuisine are not very glycemic friendly. Even the high carb count of the basic tortilla (flour or corn) must be avoided. The exception is Melissa’s Soyrizo, which replicates chorizo to a flavorful “T” without any of the artery-clogging baggage that comes with the traditional version. Instead, it’s a soy-based product infused with the same unique combination of seasonings as the real thing. Take it from this admitted ex-chorizo head; one’s palate is completely fooled by the flavor and texture of this healthy alternative, while the rest of the metabolism will appreciate the difference immediately with a heartfelt, (pun intended), THANK YOU!

For the recipe below, a twist on the traditional Chorizo & Bean Soup, Melissa’s Soyrizo is used as a flavorful component that also features our convenient, ready-to-eat Steamed Six-Bean Medley. This popular combination of white kidney, cranberry, white navy, red kidney, black beans, and black-eyed peas really upgrades the flavor complexity of this soup over the usual single kidney bean ingredient. This is also a soup that does not need an all-day simmer. The steamed beans need no cooking at all and the rest of the ingredients assimilate into the soup almost immediately.

In fact, with the exception of the chicken broth base, the entire ingredient list of this delicious soup is a collection of very simple fresh ingredients that are used in many other Mexican dishes; onion, garlic, lime, cilantro and tomatoes. Plus, a delightful bonus of both a fresh and dried version of the Anaheim chile pepper; adding color as well as two distinctly different flavors from the same pepper variety! And since this is a Cinco de Mayo celebratory dish—a few shots of a favorite tequila brand added to the soup just before serving makes for a built-in toast in every flavorful spoonful!

Drunken Soyrizo & Bean Soup
Image of ingredients
2 tablespoons canola oil, separated
½ white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, deseeded, rough chopped/diced - separated (chopped for the pot and diced for garnish)
1 whole dried California chile, seeded, soaked in hot water
1 fresh Anaheim pepper, seeded, diced
4 cups chicken broth
2 pkgs. Steamed Six-Bean Medley
1 lime, quartered
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped fined
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped fine
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 “tube” Melissa’s Soyrizo, fried & crumbled (12 oz.)
2 ounces tequila, brand of choice
Diced tomato (garnish)
Diced cilantro (garnish) 
Hot sauce and lime slices on the side

Image of cooked ingredients in hot pot
In a deep pot, sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of the canola oil over medium-high flame until slightly caramelized, then add in the garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in tomatoes, both peppers and broth, then slowly simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Image of cooking soup
Add the beans, limes sections and fresh herbs to the soup pot and simmer for another 10 minutes. At the same time, in a separate pan sauté the Soyrizo in the remaining canola oil until heated through and separated into crumbles being very careful not to burn.
Image of soup
After the quick simmer of the pot mixture is complete, remove the limes and dried pepper, blend in the cooked Soyrizo and tequila shots. Serve immediately, garnished with diced tomato, cilantro leaves, lime slices and hot sauce on the side.
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