Peas Be With Us
By Chelsea Fisher
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 dealing with cancer, or cooking for someone who is, peas – fresh or frozen — are definitely for eating.
Members of the legume family, wee peas pack a surprising amount of protein and a number of vital nutrients, including vitamins C and K, thiamin, manganese, fiber, and B vitamins. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, legumes such as peas, have protease inhibitors, saponins, and phytic acid, all of which are phytochemicals that may protect us from certain types of cancer or slow their growth. With peas having 8-9 grams of protein per cup they are also a great alternative to heavier meats and animal products. From soups to salads peas can create 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 to end up as split peas for soup.
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 and are especially tender, so the entire pod can be enjoyed. They are also sweeter than garden peas, making them perfect for healthy, cancer-combatting snacks. So pass the peas, please!
All fresh peas should have firm, green pods free of blemishes. With garden peas, size matters: bigger isn’t better, so look for pods with small to medium peas inside; you can generally guess their 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.
I always keep a bag or two of frozen peas in the freezer. You can include them in almost any dish. They add protein and vitamins to pasta dishes and salads, not to mention a hit of appetizing color to stir fries and stews. Sugar and snap peas are perfect for stir-fries. And for an eye-catching sweet and salty snack, try our Pea Hummus. It’s lower in calories than regular hummus, but still provides protein and savory taste. For a simple and quick afternoons Green split pea soup can do the trick! Try our Snap Pea Stir-Fry With Tofu , Spring Pea Salad and for a little challenge the Greek Yellow Split Pea Dip.