There was a time when you wouldn't find peas on my plate. It's not that I don't like them, but for some reason I was under the impression they weren't full of vital nutrients. There was so much hype surrounding other produce that I thought to myself "Who needs 'em?" So, I put peas aside and pulled out my other arsenal of powerful greens like kale, brussels sprouts, and spinach. These were my people; my team.
How wrong I was.
Peas are nutrition powerhouses containing vitamin A, C, K along with B vitamins, iron, and manganese. Not to mention these little guys are loaded with fiber! A 1/2 cup of cooked peas has about 4 grams of fiber providing 16% of our daily fiber intake. How's that for a nutritious punch! Now, let's not forget about the amount of protein in peas. There are 8 grams of protein per 1 cup, which is to say there are higher protein options out there. There are 120 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrates per 1 cup. Also, if you have a purine-related disease, such as gout, you may need to limit the amount you consume as peas contain purine.
Peas are being used in a creative ways for those who are looking for an alternate protein source not from animals. We've already seen pea protein powder supplements such as Vega on the market. Products like egg-free mayonnaise replace egg protein with pea protein. Another product we may be seeing soon on our grocery store shelves is nondairy pea milk. Nondairy milk options continue to push through the alternative milk market and now take up a large percentage of sales and are projected to continue to grow (Today's Dietitian. Pea Protein. Matthew Ruscigno .December 2016). As well, pea burgers may soon be making an appearance with products like Beyond Meat who make a variety of burgers, crumbles, and single serve items. In the spring, I LOVE making a pea and asparagus barley risotto! Here's a recipe that that I really enjoy.
As a plant-based protein source being offered in our grocery stores, peas have a lower impact on the environment. What I didn't know was they require less water due to their shorter roots AND have the capability to improve nitrogen in the soil. This means less fertilizer needed. I'm down with that.
Portuguese-style Eggs & Peas
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 links of spicy turkey or chicken sausage (I like vegan chorizo, too), thinly sliced
1 can chopped tomatoes with juice
1-2 tsp smoked paprika
1 bag of frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large stove-top pan on medium heat. Add in the onions and garlic letting them soften. Add in thinly sliced sausage and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Then, add a can of tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper and let the mixture simmer at a gentle boil for about 8-10 minutes. Add in the peas and cook until heated thoroughly. Bring the stew back to a low simmer and, using a spoon, make 4 indents for the eggs. Crack each egg into an indent, cover, and let the dish simmer until the eggs whites have set (about 10-15 minutes).