Packages of frozen garden peas are sometimes used to cool aching muscles, and even to soothe black eyes, though this is not the origin of black-eyed peas. But for anyone in the cancer community, peas – fresh or frozen — are definitely for eating.
Members of the legume family, peas pack a surprising amount of protein and a number of vital nutrients, including vitamins C and K, manganese, thiamin, copper, fiber, and B vitamins.
Vitamin C is essential to a well-functioning immune system, while vitamin K keeps our ability to form necessary blood clots and scabs intact.
Manganese lends a hand in many body functions, including antioxidant function, wound healing, bone development, and connective tissue formation.
Fiber is necessary to support a healthy gut, and B vitamins play a wide variety of important roles in nutrient metabolism and proper tissue formation.
Not to mention, peas are a legume which means they are packed with fiber to help support a healthy immune system and increases our feeling of fullness from our food. Peas also contain several different forms of phytonutrients that also help to support our immune system and reduce our risk of developing a chronic disease, cancer being one of them.
Another benefit of peas being part of the legume family is that they are also a good source of plant-based protein. Coming in at 8-9 grams of protein per cup, peas can provide a light yet fulfilling addition to your daily meals.
Three types of peas are widely available in most markets. Garden (English) peas, sugar snap peas, and snow peas. Garden peas come in several sizes, the smallest, ‘petits pois’ being the sweetest, while the largest are usually skinned and dried, destined to be split peas for soup.
Garden peas are often bought frozen, but in the summer, you can buy them fresh and pop them out of their pods. Sugar and snap peas are picked before they reach maturity, making them tender and sweet. Don’t bother shelling these kinds of peas as the pods provide fiber and lots of nutrients. Snack on the pod and all!
All fresh peas should have firm, green pods free of blemishes. With garden peas, bigger isn’t better, so look for pods with small to medium peas inside. You can generally guess pea size from the bumps on the pod’s surface.
Frozen peas are a great standby when fresh peas aren’t available. Frozen fruits and vegetables lose their locked-in nutrients when gradually thawed, so to get the most benefit from their nutritional punch, always cook peas straight from frozen, whether adding a handful to a recipe or cooking them on their own as a side.
It is handy to keep a bag or two of peas in the freezer because you can include them in almost any dish. They add protein and vitamins to pasta dishes and salads, not to mention a splash of appetizing color to soups and stews. Sugar and snap peas are especially perfect for stir-fries, as they will keep their delightful crunch if added near the end of cooking.
For an eye-catching sweet-and-salty snack, try our Pea Hummus, which provides protein and a savory taste, not to mention a brilliant green color. For a simple and quick afternoon snack, our Green Split Pea Soup can do the trick.