March 19, 2010

Edamame: High Fiber & Perfect Protein

Edamame are out-of-the-shell edible soybeans that are most frequently found in Japanese cuisine. The literal translation of the Japanese name 枝豆 means "beans on branches". Edamame are a dietitian's dream: they are a high-fiber, complete protein food with a moderate amount of calories that make for a satiating snack or appetizer. One cup of edamame in the shell has 190 calories, 8 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein. 

Soy foods and soybeans (including edamame) are unique in that they are a very rare non-animal source of complete protein. To be a complete protein, a food has to have all nine essential amino acids in its protein profile. This makes edamame and other soy foods an excellent source of protein for those adhering to a vegetarian diet.

To prepare edamame, boil the pods until they are only slightly firm, drain, rinse to cool and eat right out of the pod. Try sprinkling edamame on salads, or dry-roasted and salted as a snack (available at Trader Joe's.) You can also blend boiled edamame beans into dips and casseroles. Here's a great Edamame Dip recipe from Alton Brown of the Food Network: Edamame Dip Recipe.