Soy Nuts & Dry Roasted Edamame: The Perfect Road Warrior Snack

I had an amazing 4th of July with friends in New Jersey this past weekend, and per usual I came equipped with snacks. I brought Persian cucumbers, mixed greens, Greek yogurt, bananas, dry roasted edamame and almonds. Oh and two hard-boiled eggs of course. If you know me you know I almost always carry around hard-boiled eggs, but that’s another topic of conversation. So, when I busted out the edamame everyone questioned what it was. I was surprised; I thought most people knew about dry roasted edamame. Turns out no, but everyone liked it! I was happy to introduce my friends to a new, tasty, and heart-healthy snack. Perhaps many others out there don’t know about dry roasted edamame or soy nuts, so figured I’d blog about it.

Why I love soy nuts and roasted edamame.

Soy nuts or roasted edamame are at the top of my snack list, especially when traveling or out all day. They are a dream snack for busy, on-the-go health nuts. Speaking of nuts, soy nuts aren’t really a “nut,” so don’t be fooled by the name. I like the taste of these roasted beans, but what really draws me to them are their high fiber and protein content, having 14 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per ¼ of a cup. The protein to fiber ratio is almost 2:1! That means every bite you take is loaded with fiber, almost double the protein, and pure deliciousness.

To add to the awesomeness, the protein content contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Not that you can’t get your nine essentials from other healthy foods or combinations of foods, but for the busy bee, with limited food options and limited time, this can be extremely helpful and beneficial. Furthermore, because the food is high in fiber and protein it is also extremely satiating and filling. It is a slow burning food, meaning it fills you up and keeps you filled for a pretty loooooong time. It’s already difficult enough to find non-processed wholefoods that you can carry and store with you (even for a few hours), and these little nuggets can easily go days and weeks.

How I learned of this wonderful nut.

I was introduced to soy nuts when I visited Iran about 6 years ago. A year later my father brought a container of dry roasted edamame home from Costco. I took a look at the nutritional profile, did some research, and discovered they are basically soy nuts. There are definitely differences between soybeans and edamame, but they are few and far between. If you really want to know the intricate details, this article is helpful.

So today, soy nuts and dry roasted edamame are a household favorite. I also like that they have lower fat content than standard nuts and seeds (e.g., sunflower seeds, flaxseed, almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, etc.). I absolutely love nuts, but a little goes a long way, and I tend to overdo it…oops! I discovered dry roasted soy delights satisfy me just as much as nuts and seeds do; and when I mix them, I not only create a great snack, but also a great way for me to enjoy and control my nut and seed intake.

Ida’s ultimate travel mix.

I love mixing different snacks together, especially crunchy things. The concoction I create usually depends on what’s around the house and my craving or mood on that particular day. Here are common ingredients I love to combine. But, get creative and design a mix that suits your palate and personality!

Common Ingredients in My Mix: Soy nuts or edamame, oatmeal, cereal of some sort (usually cheerios or multigrain puffins), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, some sort of dried fruit (dried cranberries, tart cherries, dried blueberries, or raisins), and pretzels or crackers (recently digging Mary’s Gone Crackers).

Some cautionary advice.

There are a couple of things you want to be sure to do when it comes to consuming soy nuts or edamame. First, careful how much you eat, as the high fiber can cause bloating or gas if too much is consumed, or consumption is not balanced with water/fluid intake. This brings me to the second suggestion – drink lots of water! It is a dry, high fibrous food, so you must balance this out with moist, hydrating foods and fluids.

Additional information for you curious cats.

If you desire to learn more about soy products and their health myths and facts, here are references from two of my favorite MDs – Dr. Andrew Weil & Dr. Mark Hyman.

Time to purchase…I know you are hungry for dry roasted soy now.

Depending on where you live it may be easy or difficult to find at the grocery store. Two brands I’ve tried and trust are Seapoint Farms and Sunridge Farms.

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida

Raw verse Cooked Tomatoes – The Lycopene Debate

Let me start by discussing one of my favorite forms of the tomato, the paste. I probably go through close to two cans of tomato paste every week. I like the texture and combination with certain foods. I also love that it is a product you can buy for cheap, store for months (even years), and turn into a sauce or soup. A multipurpose, multifaceted fruit I must say. I mostly treat it like a condiment, using it as a topping or dipping sauce with various foods. It’s the way way way better version of ketchup – tastes better and is better for you.

If we take a look at the standard nutrition facts, every 2 tablespoons has 30 calories, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 20mg sodium (make sure there is no salt added), 7g of carbs, 1g fiber, 4g sugar, 1g protein, 10% Vitamin A, 10% Vitamin C, 2% Calcium and 4% Iron. Not too shabby. Oh and here’s the best part, there is only one ingredient – tomatoes! A win win for me. Stellar nutrition and simple ingredients. I mean it’s no meal replacement, but it is a great dish addition.

I wasn’t always a t-paste connoisseur. It all started in undergrad (around 2008). I used to eat a more normal amount, about 2-4 tablespoons a week, maybe less some weeks, maybe more others. Over the next few years I definitely upped my intake. I think it was some time in 2010 when I started eating t-paste by the can. At that point I began to question my consumption. Maybe it was time to cut back on my obsession before I became a full-blown addict, or maybe I already was. Regardless, I felt it was time to slow my roll. My family wasn’t as concerned as I was, but they too felt it wouldn’t hurt to dial down.

A few months later I was watching an episode of Dr. Oz, and he spoke of the health benefits of tomatoes, and tomato paste in particular. He recommended eating 4 tablespoons a day. Pause, rewind, replay (thank you DVR). “MOOOOM! Come here, listen to this please.”

Looks like I was good to go. After all that worrying, I may have been doing something beneficial for my body. I learned that cooked tomatoes have a higher amount of lycopene, which is particularly important in the prevention of prostate cancer. Not that prostate cancer was a concern for me, but I figured it had to be pretty darn healthy if it could reduce the risk of such a cancer. So, I went back to my old t-paste ways.

Why my sudden interest in telling this story?

Well, recently I was listening to a talk by raw food guru David Wolfe, and he commented on raw verse cooked tomatoes, saying:

“We often hear that cooking tomatoes increases the available lycopene antioxidant content by five times. Blending tomatoes also increases the available lycopene antioxidant content. Blending however avoids the heat/oxidation, as well as water and enzyme damaging properties of cooking.”

Then, 1 week later I listened to a lecture by Dr. Fuhrman where he spoke to the benefits of eating cooked tomatoes (versus raw), especially when it comes to lycopene content.

Hmmm, so which is truly better? Or are they both good? I set out to find the answer.

After investigating for a bit, I found there are health benefits to both. Research has consistently shown that cooked tomatoes do indeed have more lycopene content, but blending increases the lycopene content as well (just not as much as cooking). However, while cooking may have more lycopene, valuable nutrients are also lost during the heating process (i.e., Vitamin C, B1 and B6). So, there’s a tradeoff. It seems you have two options with respect to the tomato. (1) You can eat more raw tomatoes (blended or whole) or (2) you can eat cooked tomatoes and make sure you get Vitamin C, B1, and B6 from other foods in your diet.

I would recommend consuming the food in both forms, raw or cooked, and determining what form you like. Perhaps one tastes better, or your body may find it easier to digest tomatoes in cooked versus raw form. Unless you have specific reasons to monitor your tomato format intake go with whatever delights you and your belly :)

And for those of you who don’t care much for tomatoes all together, there are other lycopene rich foods, which include: Watermelon, Grapefruit, Guava, Papaya, Apricot, Asparagus, Cabbage (red raw), Parsley, Sweet Red Peppers (cooked), Asparagus (cooked), Beans (baked), Mango, and Carrots.

For amounts per serving for some of these foods check out this chart. Amounts are given in micrograms, so just move the decimal place over from right to left three times to convert to mg. Tomatoes definitely have the highest lycopene content, particularly tomato paste (75.3mg per cup), but if you are eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, you should have no lycopene shortage issues.

So, you may be wondering what lycopene even is and why you should care about it.

Lycopene is a phytochemical belonging to the carotenoids family. Lycopene gives tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables their red/pinkish color, with the exception of cherries and strawberries. Like all carotenoids, it is an antioxidant, but lycopene is 2-3 times more potent than beta-carotene (the phytochemical that gives carrots their orange color) and is of particular interest to the scientific community due to its anti-carcinogenic effects.

Interestingly, it is not considered an essential nutrient for humans, but it is a highly beneficial and powerful antioxidant that demolishes free radicals in the body. What do these free radicals do? They protect your body’s cells from damage, including the DNA inside the cell. The DNA inside the cell is what causes healthy cells to turn cancerous and create subsequent health problems.

Preliminary research shows lycopene may help to prevent heart disease, stroke, cancers of prostate, stomach, lungs and breast, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and eye disorders such as macular degeneration and cataracts. If that wasn’t enough, it may also be the most powerful carotenoid against singlet oxygen, a primary cause of premature skin aging. Further, research has suggested that lycopene may boost sperm concentrations in men with infertility. Now that’s quite an impressive resume if I do say so myself.

Although there is no Daily Value for lycopene, health specialists recommend including about 10mg of supplemental mixed carotenoids daily for health maintenance. Dosages used for prostate cancer go up to 30mg daily. At times supplements are necessary, but when possible I ALWAYS advocate eating your nutrients. Lycopene is fat soluble, so try to eat it with a small amount of oil or other good fats for optimal absorption.

As you can see there are plenty of options to choose from. Have fun with your lycopene intake. Mix it up. Although I love my tomato paste, I’m going to incorporate some other sources and tomato formats too.

I leave you with this interesting take on lycopene and raw tomatoes:

“Did nature make a mistake by only offering ‘x’ mg of lycopene in a raw tomato when its cooked counterpart has twice that? Or could it be that we really only need ‘x’ mg of lycopene per tomato? “

Oh and one more thing…sorry I know this is a long post! Here’s a classic Gazpacho recipe. I love gazpacho, and it’s a super easy, fast, delicious, cooling, raw, blended (i.e., more lycopene) way to incorporate tomatoes into your next meal.

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida

Radish | rad·ish |ˈradiSH

Radish, the awesome vegetable, not to be confused with a remarkable dish, or a thing that is semi “cool.”

I was first introduced to the radish as a child. It was always the red crunchy ball that my family had with our highly frequent servings of Kebab. I still remember the first time I encountered one. It looked interesting, and I’m no Sam-I-Am, so I tried it. Also, I wanted to be cool like the adults and eat my Kebab with radish too. At first bite, I was confused. Not what I expected, nor was I sure whether I liked it or not. It had sort of a kick to it, but very mild, kind of like watered down wasabi or something. I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste, but I really liked the texture. It was crunchy and watery, and had a neutralizing effect. It sort of acted like a pallet cleanser for me.

Fast forward to 2012. I volunteered at an elementary school to educate children on the health benefits of different fruits and vegetables. That day, one of the items the kids would be asked to taste-test was the radish. I was kind of surprised, but also excited to see how the kids would react once they tried the radish. Before then I had never thought of it as a healthy vegetable, just something we would eat as a side garnish. That day I learned that radishes are high in potassium and promote digestion. A lot of the kids really liked the taste, and had never heard of the vegetable, or thought to eat it with a salad or meal – and neither had I!

Fast forward to 2014. I started to see sliced raw radishes offered at various salad bars I went to in NYC. Every so often I would add radish instead of celery or cucumber to my salad for the watery crunch.

Rewind to 3 weeks ago. I went to get a salad from my favorite salad restaurant in NYC (Chop’t), and they had a new salad ingredient – pickled radishes. Never thought to pickle a radish, but it looked pretty, sounded awesome, and ended up tasting great too. Chop’t is known for putting thought, care and creativity into the food they select and offer; so, I knew there was a good reason they added the new item to the chopping menu. About a week later I offered to volunteer with a few Chop’t employees at a local garden in Harlem for an organization called Wellness in the Schools. Guess what vegetable we helped to seed in the garden? Yup…radishes.

Rewind to 1 week ago. I was listening to an online lecture about cooking methods, in which the instructor spoke about root-vegetables. He used the radish as an example, explaining their “sudsing” effect on the body. Turns out these suckers clean the inside of your body, and literally help you to burn and digest fat.

The radish was stalking me, so clearly I had to learn more about this vegetable. I had three questions at this point:

  1. How did this “sudsing” affect work exactly?
  2. What other health benefits did the radish have that I had yet to discover?
  3. Why had Chop’t decided to add the radish to their menu?

As my tag line points out, I am a curious health nut, and thus I was off to seek the answers to my questions.

Q&A #1: How did this “sudsing” affect work exactly?

Radishes scrub at mucous membranes in your body, helping to dissolve fat in the cells. The two minerals that support this function are the vegetable’s high levels of iron and magnesium. Radishes contain a variety of sulfur-based chemicals that increase the flow of bile and help cleanse stones and bile built up in the gallbladder. The gallbladder, in turn, helps support liver function, and a healthy liver purifies the blood, burns fat, and disposes of toxins from processed foods, medicines, alcoholic beverages, and environmental pollutants.

Historically, radishes have been used as a medicinal food for liver disorders and to prevent constipation. In the 18th century, radishes were viewed as “great relievers of the common cold, powerful fortifiers of digestion, and useful in breaking down kidney stones,” as stated in William Woys Weaver’s book 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From. Author Paul Pitchford in Healing With Whole Foods also cites how the cooling yet pungent radish are powerful detoxifiers that reduce inflammation, decrease mucus, and can help remove deposits and stones from the gallbladder.

Q&A #2: What other health benefits did the radish have that I had yet to discover? Here are just a few:

  1. Support cardiovascular and blood health. Radishes are a great source of anthocyanins, which have been positively linked to reducing the occurrence of cardiovascular disease, in addition to anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. The high potassium content in radishes also promotes cardiovascular health, as well as blood pressure.
  2. Naturally cooling and hydrating. Radishes are a naturally cooling food and can decrease excess heat in the body that can build up during the warmer months. Cool as a cucumber? Maybe switch things up and be cool as a radish. Their high water content also helps keep your body hydrated and your skin looking so fresh and so clean clean.
  3. Combat Colds and Symptoms. Their pungent flavor and natural spice (i.e., that “kick” I spoke of) can eliminate excess mucus in the body, clear sinuses, and soothe soar throats.
  4. Aid Digestion. Radishes are a natural cleansing agent for the digestive system, helping to relieve bloating and indigestion, as well as break down and eliminate stagnant food and toxins built up over time.
  5. Prevent viral infections. Because of their high vitamin C content and natural cleansing effects, regular consumption of radishes can help prevent viral infections.
  6. Eliminate Toxins and Cancer-Causing Free Radicals. Since radishes are detoxifiers and are rich in vitamin-C, folic and anthocyanins, they have been connected to treating many types of cancer, particularly colon, kidney, intestinal, stomach and oral cancers.
  7. Reduce Red Blood Cell Destruction and Treat Jaundice. Radishes remove bilirubin, keep its production at a stable level, and reduce the destruction of red blood cells that happens to people suffering from jaundice.
  8. Protect against cancers. As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family (same family as broccoli and cabbage) radishes contain phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are cancer protecting.
  9. Relives indigestion. Radishes have a calming effect on the digestive system and can help relieve bloating and indigestion.
  10. High in nutrients, low in calories. With a very low calorie count, less than 20 calories in an entire cup, radishes are a great way to add nutrients and fiber to meals. We already mentioned potassium, iron, and magnesium, but they also contain lots of vitamin C, phosphorus, and zinc.

Q&A #3: Why had Chop’t decided to add the radish to their menu?

I had the opportunity to speak with the company’s head chef and found my answer! The pickled radish is offered as a new salad topping or “chopping” because of their Santa Cruz “Destination Salad.” What are destination salads? Well, every 60 days Chop’t unveils 3 new salad specials that feature artisanal, all natural and local products. When it comes to selecting the right mix of ingredients to create the new salad specials, I learned that it takes quite the artistry and creativity. You have to use all facets of the food (e.g., it’s texture, aroma, flavor, acidity, etc.). Ultimately, this results in the creation of a salad that is palatable and relevant to the destination it is inspired by. They look to combine “ingredient and action” to provide the optimal taste and experience. To illustrate, imagine you are in Latin America, and you come across a little taqueria. You receive your taco with its savory meat, refreshing cilantro, and pickled radish and fresh squeezed lime drizzled across the top. And that’s how they discovered it!

And here we are today. In summary, the radish is very good for you, and particularly great for the spring and summer months…perfect timing. Now get out there and try it if you haven’t already. If you enjoy the taste, texture, and/or cleansing effect I highly recommend you incorporate into your salad, or have it with your next Kebab :)

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida

Eating breakfast may not matter for weight loss

IdaAshley:

Well this explains my normal weight , and years of skipping breakfast or eating “breakfast” closer to lunch-time :) I find that when I force myself to eat breakfast, especially when I am not hungry, I feel hungry and lethargic all day. Hence, why I keep it light when it comes to breakfast. Ultimately, you always have to find what works best for you when it comes to food (weight or no weight-loss).

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida

Originally posted on The Chart:

“Eat breakfast!” nutrition experts have been telling us for decades. It revs your metabolism! It keeps you from overindulging at lunch! It helps you lose weight!

But a new study suggests the “most important meal of the day” may not be so important — at least for adults trying to lose weight.

Published Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study found dieters who skipped breakfast lost just as much weight as dieters who ate breakfast regularly. The researchers concluded that while breakfast may have several health benefits, weight loss isn’t one of them.

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Two Michaels: Pollen & Moss on Food in America

Two Michaels, two very interesting interviews, and some thoughts from yours truly. Watch when you have time. I will point out my favorite piece of each video until you are able to watch these. You’re welcome.

“Whoever is president after Obamacare is in place, and the government is on the hook for a lot more of our healthcare costs, will discover that the best way to reduce the amount of money we are spending on healthcare (currently in the 3.5 trillion range) is through DIET. About 75% of these costs treat PREVENTABLE CHRONIC DISEASES, most of which are LINKED TO DIET. The best way TO TAKE CONTROL OF COSTS is to CHANGE THE WAY WE EAT. The cost of obesity is in the hundreds of billions, as is type 2 diabetes, these are huge numbers, and it is ALL PREVENTABLE; it is ALL A MATTER OF THE FOOD SYSTEM. We have a government who is subsidizing both sides in the war on obesity and type 2 diabetes. We are subsidizing the worst possible foods in the marketplace, and then we are subsidizing the healthcare costs to deal with that problem.” – Michael Pollen Interview (starts around minute 6)

*Note: this interview was published in 2013, so the numbers/statistics have changed, but sadly they have only gotten higher/worse. I updated the cost of healthcare.

My thoughts: Sorry for all of the uppercase text, but I found it exciting and satisfying to hear him speak about how most of this essentially relies upon food and diet. Sounds so simple, but unfortunately it is complex. Lack of awareness, access, and availability (the 3 As) make it quite challenging to eat right. To add, our environment, our psychology, and our DNA all play a role in the complexity of it all. If eating properly is one solution, the bigger problem is changing people’s dietary behaviors. We’ve got to get smarter and more educated on what to eat, and what to eat for each of our individual bodies and selves. Rest assured that I (as well as many others) am working on tackling that problem, but it is going to take some time. Bear with me.

“Starting in the 80s it became acceptable, socially acceptable to eat anything, anywhere, anytime…business meeting, walking down the street, subways, buses, etc. This coincided with the obesity epidemic. I think what it led to is mindless eating. Hand to mouth, not paying attention. Opposite of what my mom encouraged me to do… “Michael chew your food, slow down.” There is science behind that because it takes time for your brain to catch up with your chewing, and with your stomach. We need to go back to mindful eating and paying more attention; this will help people take control of what they eat.” – Michael Moss interview (starts around minute 23)

My thoughts: It truly has become socially acceptable to eat whatever, whenever. And, I find it interesting that it coincides with the onset of the obesity epidemic. Notice how fast-paced, demanding, and competitive our work and life have become. How many times have you found yourself doing way more than you think is humanely possible? Just because it is “possible” doesn’t mean it is something we as humans should be doing. Hence the increasing rates of such things as stress, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and burnout. We created a way of working and living that make it socially unacceptable to use eating or “mindful eating” as a valid reason or excuse for not getting work done. Next time you write out your to-do list, make sure to add “eat” to the list, allocate time for it, and prioritize it. Let’s make mindful eating a socially acceptable norm again.

Speaking of social norms, I leave you with something I was thinking about the other day.

Why do people take action after hearing or seeing someone else take action? Often, I will do or say something, but others seem skeptical or unsure until another person says or does something similar. Well, it has to do with social norms. Social psychologists have found that the greatest predictor of someone copying a behavior is seeing someone else do it (i.e., Monkey See, Monkey Do). The same holds true for what we hear. If we hear one person say something, and then another person, it increases the likelihood that we will believe and act on what we heard.

Now, as multiple people start to say or do the same thing, a ripple effect occurs. The not so believable idea or action becomes logical, acceptable, and common practice. In other words, it becomes a social norm that more and more people consciously or unconsciously want and start to do. Maybe this is why every time I stand up in the office or eat something healthy, I quickly see others pick up on those behaviors, and shortly thereafter more people start to follow suite.

I think we can all be role models when it comes to healthy habits. Think about something healthy you like to do (e.g., walking meetings, snacking on veggies or herbal tea in the afternoon, stepping outside to breathe or stretch for a few minutes, etc.), do it around others, and see what happens…I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the impact you can have.

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida

 

A craving you should indulge in: SLEEP

Looking for ways to get ahead? Maybe sleeping is one of them.

Losing sleep may give you more time in the day to do things, but think about what else you may be losing. Here are 25 radical facts about sleep you want to know about. Pick a reason, any reason. Whatever your reason, make sleep a priority. I know I’m going to take my sleep way more seriously moving forward.

Because I love you all so much, here is a special bonus: 25 completely random and useless facts you should know. Something tells me, this video will get more views than the first…

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida

Do you think you sit too much? 86% of Americans sit all day at work.

Infographics are sort of a “thing” right now, so I’m sharing one I recently stumbled upon about sitting for those of you who prefer visuals. I wrote about the deleterious effects of excessive sitting back in February, and how awesome you are if you look for ways to combat those effects, SO read it (or re-read it), take action, and stand up for goodness sakes.

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida