Soya lecithin has several uses in commercial food production and in the home. Ruth Winter, author of "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives," writes that lecithin is "used as an emulsifier to stabilise a mixture and ensure consistency." As an emulsifier, the soya lecithin prevents water and oil from separating.
Soya lecithin comes in two forms: granular and liquid. Granules are light tan in colour and range in size from tapioca pearls to coarse salt. Liquid soya lecithin is dark brown and has a viscosity similar to honey.
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Substitute 1 tablespoon of liquid soya lecithin for each large whole egg in yeast breads. Add one cup of granules per loaf of bread dough, and knead in. Lecithin's emulisifying properties will interact with gluten, the protein in the flour, to strengthen the gluten network. The dough will rise evenly and the holes created by gas escaping during the yeast process will be small and consistent, ensuring a good texture.
Replace each egg in meatball recipes with 1 tablespoon of soy lecithin granules.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid soya lecithin or one tablespoon of granules to one cup of fruit smoothies, milk or soy shakes and malted drinks. Blend until smooth and creamy. Soya lecithin is a source of B vitamins including choline and inositol, and greatly helps increase absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A.
Coat baking pans lightly with liquid soya lecithin, or with granules dissolved in warm water, to prevent food from sticking. Cover the pan evenly.
Add one tablespoon of liquid soya lecithin for each cup of combined water and oil in homemade lotions and creams, and blend on high until it's the consistency you desire.
Tips and warnings
- Lecithin burns at temperatures higher than 176 degrees C.
- Paul Pitchford, author of "Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition," warns against overconsumption of soya lecithin: "Ingesting too much (several grams daily) isolated, supplemental lecithin can produce serious side effects--including severe abdominal pain and weight loss."
- Maximum safe dosages have not been established for children, pregnant or nursing women or those with liver or kidney disease.
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- "Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks: 5,000 Ingenious Kitchen Hints, Secrets, Shortcuts and Solutions;" David Joachim; 2003.
- "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives: Descriptions in Plain English of More Than 12,000 Ingredients Both Harmful and Desirable Found in Foods, 7th Edition;" Ruth Winter; 2009.
- "Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition;" Paul Pitchford; 2003