Edamame & the Safety of Soy Foods

January 27, 2012

One of my favorite toppings for my lunch salads is edamame, also known as soybeans. I buy both the seeds (shelled) and the whole pods:

I find the shelled seeds easier to eat on a salad. I try to buy the Woodstock Farms brand because they are not only organic, but are Non-GMO (GMO stands for genetically-modified organism) certified. While organic foods are technically supposed to be non-GMO as part of their certification, there is the danger of cross-contamination and I like the extra assurance of the Non-GMO Project.

As a side note, have you heard the buzz about the push to label GMO foods? As of now, there is no requirement on food manufacturers to let consumers know if their products have GMO ingredients. My personal opinion is that we have the right to know. Here’s a link to a pro-labeling movement: http://justlabelit.org/.

The easiest and most delicious way to cook edamame is on the stovetop. Just bring a large pot of water to boil and pour in the contents of the package:

Let the pot simmer for about 5 minutes and then drain the pot in a strainer. I like the rinse the beans with cool water to stop them from cooking (no one likes mushy edamame):

Then, I just heap them on my salad. Yesterday’s version had romaine, my creamy avocado dressing, cooked asparagus (made from frozen and heated in the microwave), kiwi, pistachio nuts, chopped onion and the edamame:

If you haven’t tried eating soy beans, then I encourage you to try them. The flavor is mild and the nutrition is stellar, here’s the label for the package (one serving provides 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein):

Now, onto the safety of soy foods question. Bottom line: unless you have a soy allergy, then up to 3 servings of unprocessed soy products are shown to be not only safe, but health-promoting. Dr. Fuhrman sums up the safety argument nicely here. Unprocessed and minimally processed soy products include: tofu, soybeans (edamame), tempeh, miso and soy milk. One serving is 1 cup of soy milk or 1/2 cup of soy beans, tofu or tempeh.

On the other hand, processed soy products include soy protein isolates that are used in protein powders, drinks and bars, meat analogues, cereals and other processed foods. Stay away from these, they are not healthful.

Questions or comments on this issue? Leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail at carrieonvegan @ gmail . com.

And, before I forget, I selected the winner of my Mary’s Gone Crackers giveaway yesterday! The winner was Jana (comment #2) who will get one box each of Mary’s crackers, cookies and pretzels. Lucky Jana!

I hope everyone has a nice weekend! We have been getting a warm spell in California and I’m hoping to enjoy the outdoors this weekend with a day trip up the coast on Sunday. I’ll post tomorrow (Saturday), take the day off on Sunday and then be back Monday for a full week of blogging. This was my first week posting daily. It was a lot of work but so much fun. Do you like hearing from me every day?

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

sarah (@myinnerunicorn) January 27, 2012 at 9:19 am

While I try my best to avoid products containing genetically modified ingredients, the labeling really does not bother my. I typically just assume that if there is no non-gmo label on it, there’s a good chance that the ingredients contain gmos. If a product/brand is going to intentionally use ingredients that aren’t geneticqlly modified, they’re definitely going to want to label it since it gives their product bonus points.

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Carrie January 28, 2012 at 8:30 am

Hi Sarah! I agree with your point but I see it as a matter of principle that we as consumers have a right to know what’s in our food products. If someone can’t afford to buy organic or isn’t educated to know that a product might be GMO, then I think it should be on the label plain and clear.

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Amanda @ Hungry Vegan Traveler January 27, 2012 at 9:24 am

What a lovely, ultra-green salad! I’ve never added kiwi to a green salad before, and now I am interested to try it.

Edamame is a fun snack for kids, too. They have fun squeezing the beans out of the pods, and it’s super funny to hear little ones just say the word, “edamame.” :)

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Carrie January 28, 2012 at 8:27 am

You’re absolutely right, don’t kids always want an excuse to play with their food?! :)

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eva @VegucatingMyKid January 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

we are really on the same wave length these days…
i just made an amazing edamame dip/spread that we ate with rice crackers 2 days ago–then took the same dip and layered it on brown rice atop a nori sheet to make sushi—

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Carrie January 28, 2012 at 8:27 am

Oh my gosh, your idea to an edamame on nori is fabulous!!!

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eva @VegucatingMyKid January 28, 2012 at 8:41 am
Dawn Massey January 27, 2012 at 9:34 am

Hi Carrie! How did you cook the asparagus? It looks grilled – is it? Is frozen asparagus good? I have only had it fresh.

Thanks,
Dawn

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Carrie January 28, 2012 at 8:26 am

Hi Dawn! I buy frozen grilled asparagus at Trader Joe’s and heat it in the microwave for a minute or so. The season for fresh asparagus here is so short and it always seems so expensive that I just buy the frozen. Do you guys have TJ’s?

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Lisa January 27, 2012 at 9:48 am

Thanks for talking about soy in this way—people seem to be really confused (or just haven’t heard the details) about what types are ok.
I hope the GMO labeling law really happens!!!

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Carrie January 28, 2012 at 8:24 am

Thanks Lisa! I agree, it’s sad how demonized soy has become when it is such a healthy nutritious food in the right form and quantity. I’m a little confused about the GM law at this point, I can’t figure out if it’s going to be a state law or federal, I’ve seen petitioners at my local farmers’ market. Either way, I’ll certainly be voting for GM labeling.

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Robyn :) January 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Soy protein powder is not good for you? Oops. I have been usuing chocolate soy protein powder. Is there any kind of protein powder or nutritional powder that is good for you? I also use Amazing Grass.

I LOVE edamame!! It kind of tastes like peanuts to me :)

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Carrie January 28, 2012 at 8:20 am

Hi Robyn! There are definitely lots of non-soy based protein powders such as hemp protein, pea protein, rice protein, etc. I don’t think they are that much more expensive either, you just have to do a little searching. If you can’t find any good options at your local stores, then you can certainly find them online. I doubt Amazing Grass contains soy, but you’ll just have to read the label to make sure. I buy a pea protein one from Vitacost.com. Have a great weekend and thanks for the comment! :)

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Selina April 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Can you talk about why soy Powders are ‘iffy’ – especially if they are not GMOed . Also – just a question about using a microwave on your food – isn’t that defeating some of the health delivering properties ? My Naturopath is vehemently opposed to their use in a modern , vegan or healthful lifestyle —-

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Carrie April 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Hi Selina! I am careful to avoid soy protein isolates. I also prefer to consume minimally processed soy products in moderation like edamame, tempeh, soy milk, and tofu. I don’t know of any research that shows a negative effect of using microwaves, except if foods are overcooked.

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Tara @ such.different.skies January 27, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Hey Carrie,
I agree your salad looks amazing, I LOVE a little sweetness in my salad too. I really enjoyed this post. I eat soy {huge edamame fan}, but sometimes I get a little scared by it. I like to buy almond or rice milk instead of soy milk, and though I LOVE tofu, I love tempeh more and have been buying it since it’s a little less processed. Everything in moderation though hey? I think I just get a little nervous knowing that 98% of all soy beans are GM.
And I love hearing from you everyday woman! Keep it comin’ :)

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Carrie January 28, 2012 at 8:18 am

Thanks for your sweet comment, Tara! I’m going to start making almond milk at home to make sure I stay within the 3 servings of soy a day. Sometimes I get a little carried away with making smoothies in the Vita-Mix with soy milk. I know, isn’t it crazy that nearly all soy beans are GMO? Scary! Thanks for the encouragement on the everyday blogging, I love getting feedback on stuff like that.

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Selina April 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Thanks Carrie, I found your salad recipes and blog really interesting . I used to drink a lot of Soy milk ( organic ) until I read the research etc about GMO issues. I also don’t care for the taste of soy as much as almond milk which is thinner and lower in cals. Generally . Rice milk makes me sleepy I find . I figured it as the carb value over the protein . Good stuff on this blog – thanks for bringing awareness .

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Sara (The Veggie Eco-Life) February 3, 2012 at 7:49 am

Glad that soy isn’t necessarily bad, I love my tofu and soy milk!
It’s weird, I can’t really find edamame in the stores here.. Maybe I have to take a closer look, but ’till now I didn’t spot them. On the other hand, bean sprouts aren’t hard to find, they’re almost available in every store (and I love them).

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