Black-eyed Peas and Greens Are Fun and Healthy
The Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day is now widespread. Prosperity and luck throughout the year are the promised benefits. The peas (actually a kind of bean) symbolize coins, while the greens stand for dollars.
Eating this combo at New Year’s started about the time the Civil War was ending. Union soldiers spared the humble black-eyed peas as they confiscated or destroyed other crops in the South.
Had the troops understood the outstanding health benefits of black-eyed peas they might have targeted this food as well. This legume shares the same health benefits as other beans, filling you up and satisfying your appetite. The beans are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in minerals, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, protein, and phytochemicals.
Just as important, black-eyed peas and greens are easy to cook and there are so many fun variations on the basic dish. Here is the recipe I made for 2010.
Any Day of the Year Black-Eyes Peas and Greens
The ingredients are:
Three cups of cooked black-eyed peas (or two cans if you don’t cook them yourself)
1/3 cup of liquid – water, vegetable broth, or wine
One large onion
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno pepper (more or less to taste)
2 cups assorted chopped veggies (such as mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, carrot, tomatoes, or whatever else you like)
6 cups chopped greens (such as kale, chard, spinach, collards, or bok choy)
3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
Other spices of your choice
You can put this together fast:
Heat the liquid in a large pan with high sides or a wok. Add the onions and jalapeno pepper and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently. Add more liquid as needed ,about ¼ cup at a time, to keep the onion from sticking.
Add the 2 cups of assorted vegetables and keep cooking, stirring every minute or two. Add more liquid as needed. Cook until the vegetables are done to your taste. I like barely cooked, crisp veggies, so I sauté mine only about another 5 minutes.
Add the greens and garlic and cook about another 5 minutes. The green should be wilted but not overcooked. Finally, stir in the cooked or canned black-eyed peas and stir until just heated through.
Add any other spices you like and stir the mixture well. I added about half a teaspoon of curry powder, chopped fresh parsley, and some Tabasco this year.
This is excellent over any kind of cooked whole grain, such as brown rice, bulgur wheat, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, or barley.
This recipe is easy and tasty enough to eat any day. It’s too good to save for once a year. So get off to a fresh start and enjoy whenever you want it.
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Blog by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, a nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.