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Healthy Snacking: Edamame

Healthy Snacking: Edamame

Edamame, also called edamame beans, are soybeans which are picked straight off the plant before it has ripened. Compared to mature soybeans which are brown and dry and perfect for making tofu, these premature soybeans are still green in their pods and great for snacking on. It is a popular Japanese appetiser that is usually served before a meal or on the side of the main dish, or for just nibbling on anytime when you feel a little bit peckish.

These sweet green pods have had a long history of its own. The word 'edamame' was first documented in 1275 in Japan when a Japanese Buddhist monk name Nichiren Shonin wrote a note thanking a parishioner for the edamame he had left in the temple. Its name directly translates as 'stem bean' as it would usually be sold while still attached to the stem. It has also been referred to with different names like 'Maodou' in China and sometimes used for medicinal purposes.  

Unlike packets of chips or flavoured crackers that we pick up when feeling peckish, edamame is considered a healthy alternative as research has shown that there are many health benefits of consuming soy. It contains a variety of vitamins including vitamin E, C and B-6, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper. It also carries a compound called phytoestrogen in the soy which is linked to a decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, breast and prostate cancer, depression and bone mineral loss.

Getting your hands on these snacks are very simple. You can usually find them in the frozen vegetable section at an Asian supermarket and they come either with the pods or shelled. They are already cooked so all you have to do is just thaw it - boil, steam or even microwave them before serving. Edamame can be added into soups, stews and salad dishes. If for snacking purposes, try sprinkling some salt onto the outer pod to help bring out the flavour, but you only eat the beans that you pop out from the inside of the pods. Alternatively, you can cook the beans in salted water to achieve the same effect too!

(Image Source: coach.nine.com.au)

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