Edamame are easy to find, easier to cook

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Edamame are young, sweet, green soybeans harvested while still tender. Sometimes you will see them referred to as Japanese soybeans because "eda" means branch or twig and "mame" is bean in Japanese.

Look for fresh, shelled edamame in the produce section of many grocery stores. At a local Meijer store, they are sold near the fresh mung bean sprouts in a 6-ounce package for $1.99. They are also sold frozen, both in the pod and shelled.

Frozen, in-the-pod edamame are about $2 for a 16-ounce package. An 8-ounce package of frozen shelled edamame is about $1.50.

A fun fact about edamame is that the word was first found in an English-language publication in 1951. But edamame and its definition (immature green soybeans, usually in the pod) was added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary as a new word only in 2008.

Edamame is used as a source of protein in many vegetarian recipes. A 1/2 cup of edamame contains about 8 grams of protein. Like many other beans, edamame also has fiber, with 4 grams per 1/2 cup serving.

You can eat edamame hot or cold. They have a very mild bean taste and, when cooked, a soft texture.

A popular way to enjoy edamame is to steam or boil them in their pods in salted water. Remove them and pop the beans out of their pods and then lightly salt them.

Edamame pods are not edible.

You can eat edamame on their own for a snack or you can add them to casseroles and stir-fries or serve them as a side dish. Edamame is a great addition to a tossed salad or substitute them for another bean in a bean salad.

Their soft texture makes them easy to process into a paste-like mixture for use in dips.

Celery Slaw With Edamame

Serves: 6. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Total time: 20 minutes

If you buy edamame frozen in the pod and uncooked, cook them in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh them under cold water.

4 large, tender celery ribs

1 carrot, peeled

1 cup cooked edamame

2 green onions, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped celery leaves

11/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

In a food processor or with a sharp knife, slice the celery and carrot as thinly as possible.

Put the celery and carrot in a bowl of ice water and crisp them for 15 minutes. Drain and pat them dry. Wipe out the bowl and return the celery and carrot to it.

Add the edamame, green onions, cilantro and celery leaves and toss well. In another bowl, whisk the rice wine vinegar with the oil and celery seed.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables; toss and serve.

Per serving: 104 calories (44 percent from fat), 5 grams fat (0.5 gram sat. fat), 9 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 72 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 3.5 grams fiber . Food exchanges: 2 vegetables, 1 fat.