Monday, December 3, 2012
In Your Cupboard, Good For You - Split Peas
Pease Porridge hot, pease porridge cold....either way, Split Peas are one of the most inexpensive super foods you can have in your cupboard.
Split Pea dishes are easy to make, either as a soup, dahl (sauce/dip), or even dessert (see below).
So what makes Split Peas so good for you?
Example: 1 cup of cooked split peas provides (approximately):
- 16 grams of protein
- 41 grams of carbohydrates (as starch & fiber)
- 16 grams of fiber (both soluable & insoluable)
- less than 1 gram of sodium
- low on the glycemic index (great for those wanting to lose weight or balance blood sugar levels)
- B vitamins
- both Magnesium & Potassium (high amounts of each, plus other minerals)
- lutein (important antioxidant for eye retina health & blue light absorption)
And another great benefit of split peas, they chelate (bind to) heavy metals (especially lead, mercury & cadmium) & help remove them from the body. Split peas also come in a variety of colors (yellow, red, green) which makes them a 'fun' food.
Example: I like to use yellow or green split peas for an everyday type of soup, red ones for dahl & green for a hearty soup to serve on Halloween. (I add whole small black pitted olives & thin/julienne strips of red pepper to the green Halloween split pea soup when it's ready to be served.)
Split Pea Soup can be made with any favorite recipe. Mine is simply done with organic split peas, cooked in organic chicken broth until the peas are alnost tender. Then I add diced organic celery, carrots, onions, garlic & spices like sea salt, pepper, & my favorite curry spice mix & finish cooking until the peas are soft (& the soup is medium thick) & the veggies are tender.
Some people also like to add cooked diced ham or bacon and so on. (Note: for those people who don't want to use salt in the cooking liquid, small pieces of Kombu seaweed will also help the peas cook better. It doesn't give a fishy flavor to the peas & it adds trace minerals.)
When the soup is done I like to top it with grated cheese & plain yogurt (plus sometimes a sprig of parsley or cilantro) & serve with toasted rice cakes/crackers. Other good toppings are Brewers or Nutritional Yeast (which adds more B vitamins & a slightly salty flavor), a sprinkle of ground Cayenne, sour cream, croutons, or cheesy popcorn.
Dahl is a Mid-Eastern dish, in which the split peas are well cooked & either mashed or put through a sieve so they have a smooth texture. Various spices/curry, tomato paste, etc., is added & it's either served as a dip or sauce, depending on the thickness one wants.
Split Peas have also been used for a 'sweet dish' (dessert) since before recorded history. People in the mid- east would sweeten the cooked peas & then add dried fruit, especially dates.
When Europeans were introduced to spit peas, both wealthy people & peasants would use them both as a main dish & a sweet treat. They quickly realized the peas were both nutritious & filling, & the gelling property of the peas made it easy to vary the texture of a dish, so it could be either everyday fare like a soup, or something special like a thick pudding.
Hence, the old 'Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot nine days old.' (And no, I don't recommend eating nine day old food, even a dish made with split peas, unless it had been properly stored/frozen for later use.)
If you had Split Pea Soup as a kid & didn't like it, I suggest trying a different recipe, making it either thinner or thicker & amping it up with other spices, add-ins, toppings, and so on. As mentioned above, split peas are one of the best inexpensive 'healthy, good for you foods' you can eat.
Sources: www. wikipedia.org, www.fiberfoods.com, www.webmd.com, www.nutritiondataself.com
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