Soy an easy and delicious side to your meals

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, April 9, 2011

They cook like a frozen lima bean. They are the only bean that provides a “complete” protein and a serving has as much fiber as four slices of whole wheat bread.

We’re talking about edamame since April is Soy Foods Month. This superstar bean is a fresh soybean, harvested while the beans are still green and tender. Edamame is a bean variety bigger and sweeter than the soybeans grown in most fields here in the Midwest and they are possibly the easiest soy food for Americans to incorporate into their diets.

In addition to edamame’s providing fiber and heart-healthy protein, a serving provides vitamins A, B and C and disease-fighting isoflavones. In fact, per 2/3-cup, edamame serves up 105 calories, 10 g protein, 4 g fat, 10 g carbohydrates and 10 g fiber. All of that nutrition in a tiny a little bean.

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New studies are finding that even one serving of soy per day may help protect a person against many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis. Research also suggests that women who are at risk for developing breast cancer or who are breast cancer survivors can safely consume moderate amounts of soy foods – up to two servings per day.

The ease of preparation and flavor of this soy product make it easy to consider as a side dish in any meal. The flavor of edamame is slightly nutty. Shelled edamame cook like a frozen vegetable, easily cooking in a microwave or steaming on the stovetop.

You’ll find edamame in the frozen vegetable or natural food section of your grocery store available in the pod or shelled. They’re even found in frozen vegetable blends, a great way to introduce the tiny bean. If buying edamame in the pod, a quick tip to shelling them: snip the ends and center of the pod with a scissors, squeeze and the slippery plump beans will slide right out.

Try one of these soy delicious sides or the recipe below using edamame:

• Combine edamame into rice or vegetable dishes.

• Add edamame to a three-bean salad.

• Substitute part edamame for green peas in a pea salad.

• Toss onto lettuce or spinach salads.

• Sprinkle on pizza.

• Puree and add garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and cumin to make a delicious hummus.