Did you know that legumes are the only food group associated with longevity? Accredited Practising Dietitian Sue Radd says that ‘what is truly remarkable is that all the longest living societies are into some sort of bean, whereas the chronically ill in Western countries often don’t even know what a legume looks like!’ Soybeans (GI 14 canned; GI 18 home cooked) and soy products are the nutritional powerhouse of the legume family. They come in various colours, shapes and sizes; are used to make miso, tofu, soy drinks and tempeh; have been a staple part of Asian diets for thousands of years; and are an excellent source of protein. They’re also rich in fibre, iron, zinc and vitamin B. Soybeans are lower in carbohydrate and higher in fat than other legumes, but the majority of the fat is polyunsaturated. They are a rich source of phytochemicals, especially phytoestrogens, and have been linked with improvements in blood cholesterol levels, relief from menopausal symptoms and lower rates of cancer in many studies. Soak dry soybeans overnight in plenty of water and use them to make soups, stews and casseroles, or mash them when cooked and use in burgers or as a base for dips.
Green soybeans also called edamame (not GI tested as yet) are fresh, bright green soybeans in their pod. You can buy them fresh or frozen from Asian produce stores. You can serve them at home as a side dish or toss into a pasta, risotto or stir fry. Sue Radd, an authority on phytoestrogens, has many wonderful soybean (and soy product) recipes in her book Eat to Live, which she co-authored with Prof. Kenneth Setchell from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre and the University of Cincinnati. To order, check out Sue’s website: www.sueradd.com. Here are her irresistible Roasted Soy Nuts – the perfect snack (a small handful will stay the pangs) or addition to salads.
Roasted soy nuts
Makes 3 cups
2 cups soybeans
1 teaspoon soybean or canola oil
1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander (cilantro)
pinch salt, optional
pinch hot ground chilli, optional
- Cover the soybeans with plenty of water and soak overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Drain soybeans and spread out on two non-stick oven trays. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the soybeans are golden brown. Remove from the oven and place in a mixing bowl.
- Heat the oil and drizzle over the soybeans. Mix well so that each soybean is coated. Sprinkle the soybeans with the ground spices, mixing well. Adjust to taste with salt and chilli. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for later use.
Nutritional analysis per serving (¼ cup)
Energy 538 kJ/128 Cal; 6 g fat (includes saturated fat 1 g); 3 g fibre; 11 g protein; 9 g carbohydrate; low GI