6 Edamame Recipes Nutritionists Love

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Edamame are young soybeans that are a tasty and nutritious source of plant-based protein. Here's how to have them as a quick meal or snack.

The benefits of edamame

If the only time you eat edamame is when you go out for Japanese food, you’re missing out on one of the most potent plant-based proteins around.

“Edamame are unique in the world of plant-based proteins because they contain all nine essential amino acids, something few plant foods can claim,” says Cara Harbstreet, a registered dietitian in Kansas City, Missouri.

Why is that a big deal? Amino acids are protein building blocks, which the body uses to synthesize its own protein supply.

But edamame’s complete protein isn’t the only reason to love the little green beans.

“Mild-flavored edamame are incredibly versatile, so they can be used interchangeably in many bean-based recipes,” says Harbstreet.

Whether your goal is to eat more vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based meals—or you just want to get a healthy meal on the table in a hurry—there’s a way to work more edamame onto your plate.

Why are soy foods like edamame so great for you?

In addition to its plant protein, soy contains isoflavones, unique antioxidants believed to decrease inflammation and improve heart health.

And even though there are lots of misconceptions about soy and breast cancer, the American Cancer Society says soy foods don’t increase a person’s breast cancer risk. They may even offer some protection.

How to buy and store edamame

Edamame are young soybeans. They’re sold fresh in your supermarket’s produce department or in the frozen food aisle.

One big difference: “Fresh edamame only lasts a day or two in the refrigerator, while the frozen variety lasts for up to a year or longer in your freezer,” says Toby Amidor, a registered dietitian in Scarsdale, New York, and author of The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook. “The frozen variety is precooked, so all you need to do is heat them for a few minutes before serving.”

To cook fresh edamame, simply steam the pods for 20 minutes.

How to eat more edamame

The great thing about edamame is that the beans work in a whole lot of recipes.

Stock up on frozen edamame, and you’ll have a nutrient-packed ingredient at the ready for some quick and easy snacks and meals.

An edamame snack

“I recommend using in-shell edamame as a snack instead of chips,” says Amidor. “I buy the unsalted variety so I can control how much salt I sprinkle before eating.”

Not only are they loaded with nutrition but they also have a low glycemic index (GI), so they deliver prolonged, sustained energy for better focus and stamina per Nutrition Journal. The low GI makes them a good option for people with diabetes because they raise blood sugar more slowly.

If you don’t feel like fussing with pots and pans, pop some frozen, shelled edamame in the microwave. Season with a little salt and pepper—or shake things up even more with some everything bagel seasoning.

Garlic edamame

Digestive troubles got you down? Edamame can help with that. Each cup delivers a hefty eight grams of fiber to keep your digestive system regular.

For a speedy fiber-filled appetizer or snack, sauté a couple cloves of thinly sliced garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes in a tablespoon of peanut oil for two minutes.

Add one pound of cooked edamame in their pods, toss well, and season with sea salt.

Not only will you reap the reward of eating high-fiber beans, but you’ll get some surprising benefits of garlic too.

Roasted edamame

Did you know potassium helps regulate blood pressure?

As important as this mineral is, few of us get enough of it, according to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. With 675 milligrams of potassium per cup, a serving of edamame can help fill the void.

Try yours roasted.

To make it, arrange a ten-ounce bag of thawed frozen, shelled edamame in a single layer on a sheet pan.

Drizzle with a tablespoon of canola oil, season with a little garlic, onion, or chili powder (or a combo of all three), and bake in a 375° F oven for 15 minutes.

Edamame hummus

Next time you’re looking for a quick, easy appetizer, skip the cheese and crackers in favor of a hummus recipe.

Whip up a bowl of Harbstreet’s Simple Sesame Edamame Hummus (recipe below). It’s naturally low in saturated fat, so it’s a win for heart health.

Plus, you can prep it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to four days for hassle-free entertaining.

Simple Sesame Edamame Hummus

sesame edamame hummusCourtesy Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

8 oz shelled edamame

1/3 cup tahini

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/4 cup lime juice

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup cilantro

1/2 teaspoon MSG

White or black sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. Measure and add all ingredients (except the sesame seeds) to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Pulse several times, then blend on medium-high. Pause to scrape the sides of the bowl, if needed. Continue mixing until the hummus has a thick, creamy texture.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl or storage container. Garnish with the sesame seeds. Drizzle with additional sesame oil, if desired.

Per serving: 256 calories, 21 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 12 g carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar, 10 g protein, 11 mg sodium

Edamame noodle and grain bowls

Edamame are a brilliant way to add antioxidants, like isoflavones, to your noodle or grain bowl.

“But don’t stop at edamame,” says Liz Weiss, a Boston-based registered dietitian nutritionist and host of “Liz’s Healthy Table” podcast.

Pump up the antioxidants even more with veggies like shredded red cabbage and carrots.

“Then toss with a little peanut butter, sesame oil, reduced-sodium soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger. And dinner is served,” she says.

(Try this tasty edamame and soba noodle bowl recipe.)

Edamame salad

Salad may be packed with vitamins and minerals. But without protein, it’s unlikely to keep you full for very long. Enter edamame.

Each cupful provides a satisfying 19 grams of protein. For a double dose of plant protein and soy isoflavones, try the Spring Salad With Edamame, Cucumber, Snow Peas, and Tofu Croutons that Weiss developed for the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Spring Salad With Edamame, Cucumber, Snow Peas, and Tofu Croutons

Spring Salad With EdamameCourtesy The American Institute for Cancer Research/Liz Weiss, MS, RDN

Makes 4 servings (1 salad with 12 tofu croutons)

Ingredients

1 block (14 oz) firm tofu

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 container (5 oz) prewashed salad greens

2 cups snow pea pods, trimmed and sliced on diagonal into 3/4-inch pieces

1 cup frozen shelled edamame, cooked according to package directions

1 (4-inch) English cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into thin half moons

1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, roughly chopped, plus more to taste

1/4 cup sesame-ginger salad dressing, plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. (If you don’t have parchment paper, spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.)
  2. Place tofu in a colander and drain water. Wrap tofu in a few layers of paper towels and transfer to a cutting board. Press block under a baking sheet to squeeze out excess water. Stack something heavy on top, such as a few cans of beans or a kettle filled with water. Let drain for about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove paper towels. Cut tofu into 48 cubes measuring 3/4 inches each.
  4. Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk together sesame oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger, and garlic powder. Add tofu cubes and toss gently until well coated.
  5. Transfer tofu to prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Turn cubes halfway through to ensure even baking.
  6. Set out four dinner-size salad bowls. Fill each with salad greens, snow peas, edamame, cucumber, mint, dressing, and tofu croutons. (Assemble in large bowl or on platter, if you prefer serving family style.)

Per serving: 260 calories, 15 g total fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 260 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar, 0 g added sugar, 15 g protein

If you can’t get enough edamame, try them as spicy snack. Or add edamame to soup or pasta.

Sources

Karen Ansel, MS, RDN
I'm a health writer and content marketing specialist. My niche is breaking down the science of health, wellness and medicine into engaging, easy-to-understand content for B2C and B2B clients. Topics I frequently cover include disease prevention, diet, nutrition, weight loss, diabetes, cancer, heart health, women's health, cooking, food safety, and recipe development. You'll find my work in Woman's Day, SELF, Shape, Women's Health, Prevention, Diabetes Forecast, Family Circle, Yoga Journal, EatingWell, Cooking Light, and O, The Oprah Magazine. I also write, blog and develop infographics, e-books, press materials and video scripts for corporate clients such as Harvard Health Publications, Abbott Nutrition, Kellogg's, Rite Aid, CVS, The American Diabetes Association, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dignity Health. When I'm not writing you can find me talking health and wellness on Twitter.