Due to its high nutritional value, soy foods continue to gain popularity in the market place. Much of this interest has focused on soybean products for people looking to cut down or eliminate animal products from their diet–soy comes in the form of tofu, soy milk, soy-protein fortified flour, miso and soy protein meat substitutes. The soy plant originates from central and eastern Asia. Soy has been cultivated in China for many centuries and is now cultivated in many countries, mainly in China, USA, Argentina, and Brazil.
But beyond tofu and soy milk, soybeans are also a delicious vegetable on their own and can be eaten directly from the pods similar to other beans or peas. When eaten as a vegetable, soybeans are usually called edamame.
Edamame is planted the same way as bush beans are, and a mature soybean plant reaches about 2-feet tall. The soy plant belongs to the family of the papilionaceous. The soy plant has large trifoliate leaves with small white to purple flowers, born close to the stem. The soy beans ripen in a pod, which normally contain 3 to 4 beans. The color of the soy beans differ from light yellow, to green and black. Only the soybeans (seeds of the soy plant) are used.
Edamame offers a number of superfood phytochemicals such as isoflavones, genistein, saponins, beta-sitosterol and daidzein. Soybean consumption has been associated with reduction of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. The soybean protein as well soy isoflavones are responsible for this action. The soy bean contains about 38% protein of high nutritional quality, because the eight essential amino acids are present.
Edamame is great on its own, but is also adds character as an ingredient in other recipes. Incorporate them as you would other beans, or try these recipes for Egyptian Edamame Stew or Green Tea Rice with Edamame and Shitakes.