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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle
Peas

Give Peas a Chance

Posted by Caitlin Huth - peas

Green is popping up everywhere as spring arrives! This is also about the time of year gardeners can start their pea plants.

And on that topic, do little kids still hate peas? With the information and the kid-friendly recipe in this blog post, maybe we can change that. As an old college club t-shirt of mine says, "Give Peas a Chance."

(While there are other types of peas, such as snow and sugar snap peas, this blog will cover garden peas.)

Nutritionally, a 1/2 cup of garden peas contains around 70 calories, 12g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 4g protein, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Like other vegetables, it is not a significant source of fat or sodium. However, peas have more carbohydrates than other green vegetables.

  • Buy: Most home cooks will find garden peas canned or frozen. Check that you are buying plain vegetables without added salt or sauces when available. Some farmer's markets may sell peas, typically still in their pods. Look for firm peas with uniform green coloring, limited blemishes, and no signs of drying out.
  • Price: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on average, frozen peas cost $0.65 per 1 cup and $0.55 per 1 cup when bought canned. This is very affordable when for about $1.50, you can provide 4 people with a 1/2-cup serving!
  • Store: While unopened cans of peas can stay at room temperature, make sure frozen peas remain in your freezer until ready to use. Use by dates on the package for best quality. Keep fresh garden peas for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. The longer they are stored, the more of their sugars will turn to starch, making them less sweet.
  • Prepare: Rinse and drain canned peas before adding to recipes. Since canned peas are cooked, add just long enough to reheat. Frozen peas will take a little longer to cook, so follow directions on the package or in your recipe.

For fresh peas, wash pods and shell as many as you need for your recipe. To shell peas, push along the seam of the pod until it opens. Push out the peas into a bowl, and continue with your recipe.

  • Eat: Peas primarily end up in savory recipes, from main dishes to side dishes to appetizers. Add them to recipes to get in extra vegetables and great color.

References:

University of Illinois Extension, Watch Your Garden Grow, Peas
University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide, Peas
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Fruit and Vegetable Prices
U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27

Have you seen peas in a stir-fry recipe? This recipe is very easy, so bring in some kids to help. Kids are more likely to eat recipes they got to help cook.

Honey Beef Stir-Fry (Serves 6)

For even quicker preparation, look for a bag of mixed peas and carrots in your grocer's freezer case. It might take a little longer to cook.  If you do not have sesame oil or find it too expensive, use any oil you have on-hand and know the flavor will be different.

1 lb lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup less-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil

1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, cook ground beef until no longer pink. Drain fat and return to skillet.
2. Add garlic, carrots, and peas to skillet. Cook and stir about 5-8 minutes or until carrots are tender.
3. Combine soy sauce, beef broth, cornstarch, honey, and sesame oil in a small bowl until smooth.
4. Add to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens. Continue cooking and stirring about 3 minutes. Add additional beef broth if mixture becomes too thick.
5. Serve over brown rice or whole-grain egg noodles.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 250 calories, 13g fat, 510mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 23g protein

Recipe presented at "Where Does My Lunch Come From?" 4-H series, DeWitt Co, 2014

WEB HIGHLIGHT: Want to grow your own at home? Follow these directions from University of Illinois Extension's "Watch Your Garden Grow" website for peas.

WEB HIGHLIGHT 2:  Got excess peas in your garden?  Freeze them for later use.  Follow directions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.



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