edamameWhat is it? Have you tried it? What do you think of it?

These are some of the questions I got when I first made edamame for my family. I answered their questions, hoping that they would like this new food. Edamame is green soybeans – it is harvested before the beans harden. I have tried it and I do like it.  It turns out that my family likes it too… a lot.

Edamame is a vegetable that is typically found in the frozen foods section at grocery stores around here. I recently bought two 12 ounce bags for $5 (or $2.50 each). This is a little more than I usually spend on frozen vegetables, but there are some added nutritional benefits to eating edamame along with other vegetables. It is a good source of protein, fiber, some B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. This makes it a good partner for vegetables that are good sources of vitamin C, such as peppers, and vitamin A, such as carrots or winter squash.

Edamame can be used in many ways. I have served it as a side dish with a little salt and pepper. It can also be added to any dish you add frozen vegetables to such as soups, stir-fries, or casseroles. I have added it to my children’s favorite, tuna and noodles.  A small amount (1/2 to 1 cup) of thawed edamame could be added to any of these SpendSmart.EatSmart recipes to boost the nutrition:

Try some edamame and let us know what you think of it.

Nut milk, rice milk – Really?

I grew up on a farm and from what I know, milk comes from a cow.  It is that white liquid farmers “milk” for us humans before the baby calves get to it.  Cow’s milk is a good source of protein calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D (since all cow’s milk is fortified).

The “milk” from nuts, rice, and soy is not nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk. These types of milk are also more expensive. On the other hand, if they are fortified, they can be a good choice, especially if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk protein.

Here are some good things to know about the different types of milk you can find in the grocery store:

Soy Milk/Drink/Beverage: Produced by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water. Soy milk has about the same amount of protein and fat as cow’s milk and provides B vitamins, but it does not have calcium unless it is fortified.  Most soy milks are fortified, but some are not (you have to read the label).

The American Academy of Pediatrics considers fortified soy milk a suitable alternative for children who cannot tolerate human or cow’s milk or whose parents opt for a vegan diet. They find no medical benefit to using soy milk instead of human or cow’s milk.

Nut Milk: Almond or hazelnut milk are not similar to cow’s milk from a nutritional stand point.  They have little protein and almost no calcium.  They provide similar nutrients as nuts and are low in calories.

Rice Milk: Mostly made from brown rice and usually unsweetened.  Compared to cow’s milk, rice milk contains more carbohydrates, but does not contain significant amounts of calcium or protein, and no cholesterol.

Coconut Milk: Made from grated and squeezed coconut.  It is high in calories – a half cup has around 200 calories.  It can also be used in small amounts for cooking or on cereal rather than for drinking.

What’s the bottom line? If you drink non-dairy milk, be sure to find one that is fortified with calcium and Vitamin D.  Most of these beverages have lots of sugar, especially if they are flavored, so read the nutrition labels closely. These beverages should not be used as replacements for infant formula.

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