The ignoble soybean has become a snack food craze. The bright green pods sold here are akin to pea pods in color and size but the skin is fuzzy rather than smooth. They're best served blanched for snacking, have a mild nutty flavor and a bit firmer than other dried beans. Adding seasoned salt is a nice way to flavor them up.

Dried soy beans contain 1½ as much protein as other beans and are highly valued as a weapon against high cholesterol, osteoporosis, cancer of the breast, colon, and prostate. They are such high quality protein that soybeans are frequently used as meat extenders and are comparable to animal protein in helping with body growth and energy. Soy flour or grits and soy protein concentrate (textured or powdered) are used commercially in baked good, baby foods, candy, cereals and some sausages. Isolated soy protien (extracted) is used in sausages and cold cuts, whipped toppings, frozen dessert, dips, sauces, gravies and snacks. Textures soy protein (from the three previously mentioned products) is used for meat extenders or substitutes, including imitation bacon. While soy foods will not replace meats they provide protein in a wide variety of ways.

To prepare fresh soybeans for snacking, heat water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and one pound soybeans in the pod. Return to a boil and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Beans should be cooked but still firm. Drain into a colander and, whiles till warm, toss with a salt based seasoning mix such as Cajun or lemon pepper for some zip. They can be refrigerated as long as 4 days or frozen as long as three months.

Many thanks to Ouroboros who says edamame is what we call the fresh (or frozen) preparation described, here on the West Coast.