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Monday, April 18, 2016

Black Eyed Peas

Black Eyed Peas:


The black eyed pea is a legume, a subspecies of the cowpea.   The common commercial variety is called the California Black eye.  It is pale colored with a prominent black spot.  Actually the spot may be black, brown, red, pink, or green.  All the peas are green when freshly shelled and brown or buff when dried. 


The first domestication probably occurred in West Africa, but the black-eyed pea is widely grown in many countries in Asia.  The black-eyed pea was introduced into the Southern U.S. as early as the 17th century in Virginia.  Most of the black-eyed peas cultivation in the region, however, took firmer hold in Florida and the Carolina's during the 18th century reaching Virginia in full force following the American Revolution.  The black-eyed pea eventually became popular in Texas.  Throughout the south the black-eyed pea  is a widely used ingredient in soul food.

My Story:

Growing up in the north I was not exposed to black-eyed peas when I was young.  It wasn't until I got to the south that I was first exposed to them.  Black-eyed peas are one of the few foods that I tend to avoid.  To me the taste is not pleasant and rather bitter.  Of course properly prepare anything can taste good.  In the produce department we would have fresh black-eyed peas around New Year.  Most of the time black-eyed peas were sold canned of dried in packages with other dried  beans in the grocery aisles.

Black-eyed Peas and New Year:

In the Southern U.S. eating black-eyed peas on New Year's day is thought to bring prosperity in the new year.  The peas are typically cooked with a pork product (such as bacon, ham bones fatback, or hog jowls), diced onions, and served with a hot chili sauce, or pepper flavored vinegar.  The traditional meal also includes collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham.  
The peas, since they swell when cooked symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; and the pork , because pigs root forward when foraging represent positive motion.  Cornbread also often accompanies the meal.  The cornbread represents gold.


Black-eyed peas contain calcium, folate, protein, fiber and vitamin A.  They are high in fiber, protein, iron, and potassium.  They are rich in zinc and a good source of manganese.

Health Benefits:

Fiber:  A half cup of dried cooked Black-eyed peas contains 5.6 g fiber  (canned 4g)  Fiber helps regulate you digestive system and increasing your intake could help alleviate constipation and symptoms of irritable bowel.  Fiber helps keep cholesterol levels healthy by preventing cholesterol from being absorbed.  Fiber will also help you keep feeling full.

Potassium:  A half cup dried and cooked contains 239 mg of potassium (206 mg for canned) .  Potassium helps lower risk of heart disease and supports the health of your muscles and bones.

Low in fat and calories:  A half cup contains about 1 g of fat and 100 calorie.

Protein:  A half cup of dry and cooked contains 6.7 g of protein (canned gives 5.7g)

Iron: A half cup dried and cooked contains 2.2 mg of iron (canned contains 1.2mg).

Selecting and Storing:

Choose dried beans that are dry, firm, clean, and uniform in color.  Avoid beans that are shrivelled.  Choose canned beans with low or no sodium.  
Store dried beans at room temperature in a closed container to protect from moisture and pests.  Cans should be kept at room temperature and used by freshness date. 

So.....Eat up!  Enjoy!   I'll show you how.

Black-eyed Peas and Tomatoes with Bananas

1 TBS canola oil
1 onion, thinly sliced 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
1 can black-eyed peas (15 oz) rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 TBS unsalted butter
2 firm bananas halved lengthwise and cut into chunks.

Heat oil in a large high sided skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden and tender (about 10 minutes).  Stir in garlic, ginger and cayenne and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Add tomatoes and peas and bring to a simmer.  Cook 15 minutes until peas are tender.  Stir in salt 

Meanwhile melt butter in a separate skillet over medium high heat.  Add bananas and cook about about 5 minutes until brown on both sides.  Gently flip half way through cooking.  Serve bananas alongside black-eyed peas in a shallow bowl.

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