Glossary of Foods: Edamame

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Edamame is kind of a tongue twister if you've never come across the name or the food before. It doesn't matter how you say it, as long as you put it on your plate! This delightful green legume is a triple threat; it's delicious and nutritious and easy to prepare.

Edamame are simply soybean pods harvested and prepared before they reach full maturity and begin to harden. (Products like soy milk, tofu, and tempeh are made after the soybean hardens.) The green pods grow in clusters of three to five on the soybean plants. Individual pods are one to three inches long and contain two, three, or four beans – rarely more. The pod and the beans are all edible, but the pods may be removed and discarded for specific preparations.

edamame

The United States is the second largest producer of soybeans after Brazil. Now that edamame is gaining popularity as a health food, some of the soybean crop produced in the US is being harvested as edamame instead of being processed as other soy products.

Edamame packs in all the protein you usually enjoy in soy foods, plus additional fiber, vitamins C and K, folate, and potassium. Cooked and served simply, one cup of edamame contains about 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 17 grams of protein. It's no wonder demand for edamame is rising!

Find edamame in the freezer section of your local grocery with the vegetables or health foods. You may find frozen edamame already shelled or in the pod. Choose depending on your desired preparation, or try them both! If you're concerned about soy GMOs, look for edamame that is certified organic.

Typical preparation for edamame includes steaming or boiling the pods and serving them with a sprinkle of salt. The crunchy texture and nutty flavor make edamame ideal for killing your craving for a salty, crispy snack. Plus, the high protein content makes it a great post-workout recovery snack or a healthy lunchtime snack for kids. Add additional texture and flavor by crisping the whole pod in a pan with soy and sesame. Also try removing the shell and roasting the beans with parmesan cheese or spices for a savory snack. You can also add the beans to a delicious Asian Quinoa Salad, or try to make your own healthy hummus.