Pea It Out?! Oh yes! It's springtime here where I live. In the Northeast spring usually means cool, rainy weather, and the bursting of green color (although it's been gosh darn hot-but no one's complaining). Foods that are in-season where I live at this time of year are peas, asparagus, (speaking of pee...), kale, chard, scallions, chives, spinach, lettuce, garlic scrapes, and well, anything that's green! The color green isn't just pretty, it's a lifeline! For those who've lived without fresh local produce all winter, nothing makes us folks happier than to see green! Greens bring calcium, iron, fiber, protein, and a bunch of antioxidants. May Day was/is a holiday celebration of the earth springing into life. If you've lived through a long winter-you know that spring is the time for celebration. The frogs outside my windows can't stop singing about it!
I just planted a whole bunch of seeds, peas being one of those! Peas are legumes, unlike most springtime foods. And like legumes they come with some pretty powerful nutrition. What makes them such powerhouses? They're bursting with color and are very nutrient dense. They are awesome sources of protein, fiber, iron, and antioxidants. Peas are rich sources of Vitamin A which boosts eye, skin, hair, and dental health. It also helps to decrease inflammation in the body. Peas are virtually fat free, and what fat they do contain comes in the form of omega 3-fatty acids that promote heart health. Peas are often thought of as starchy veggies. They're not. They're low glycemic, meaning they won't spike your blood sugar. In fact, due to their high fiber content, they will help to regulate your blood sugar and pressure-and help to lower your risk of both heart disease and diabetes.
How to cook them? Well, since my fresh peas aren't ready yet from the garden, I whipped up this 10 minute Spring Pea Soup
, using frozen sweet peas. I added fresh dill from my garden and some fresh lemon. If you have access to fresh peas, use those. I love to eat snap peas raw, or blanched and then thrown last minute into a stir fry. I don't think they hold up well to extended cooking. They lose their color quickly, and no one likes grey veggies. Most fresh spring veggies share this quality. They're tender, and should be cooked with delicate handling to retain their nutrients and flavor. Simple is best.