Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Quick Guide to Soybeans (Edamame)

It seems like everywhere you turn these days products are touting how much soy protein they have. In some ways this is understandable as more and more evidence shows that soy can have important health benefits, like lowering the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and heart disease as well alleviating symptoms of menopause.

Unfortunately, such labeling can also be misleading because the soy sources linked to these benefits are not those in highly processed food products, rather they are in less processed sources like tofu, tempeh (a sort of soy bean patty) and plain soybeans themselves.

On their own, soybeans make a great snack and are easy to prepare and mix in other dishes (like salads and pasta).

Never had them? Don’t know where to find them? Here’s a quick guide.

Cooking up soybeans is one of the easiest snacks or side dishes around. In most grocery stores you find them in the freezer section, where they are labeled as “edamame” – the Japanese word for baby soybeans. I found this bag at my big box shopping store in their small grocery section freezer.


They are soybeans still in the pod.


You can also find them frozen and shelled, which may be easier if you intend to just toss them into a salad or pasta dish. The process of cooking them is really simple (think boiled peanuts if you’re in the south!)

Get a pot and boil some water. You don’t need as much as if you are making pasta. When the water is boiling, add a bit of salt (this part is optional, I omitted it when my kiddo was small).


Now toss in your edamame/soybeans.


When the water returns to a boil, let those cook for about 5 more minutes and then drain.


They are HOT. Be careful. At this point, if you want them to taste like they do at a Japanese or sushi restaurant, toss with more salt. I’ve never found this necessary and would rather not have such a high salt intake, so I skip it.

Pour into a bowl, and when they are cool enough to touch, just pop the pod open and eat the beans inside.



*note for parents – my toddler loved these – pureed when she was very little, and then as an early finger food. Now she shells them herself.

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