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

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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