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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Black Eyed Peas for New Year's Day

Another recipe steeped in tradition! Tradition!  Why we eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day? I am not really sure. I think it's to bring good luck in the New Year, which I don't really put any faith in.  But I do love me silly traditions and any excuse to follow a ritual, seems fine by me.  Plus, I really like this recipe for Black Eyed Peas.  We grew up with grandparents in EasternVirginia and Eastern North Carolina.  Grandma Julia made these and when I was young, I did not approve.  No, not at all.  A bit of trouble was had by a little girl that told her grandmom the peas were rotten.   As the years have gone by and with the addition of bacon and tomatoes and seasoning.. these have become something I make often and even crave. 
The original recipe was from Paula Deen.  I don't make many of her recipes, not that I don't like her.. it's just not my taste.  But this recipe and her basic quiche are 2 that I make very, very often and probably won't deter from.  I have altered this a bit, not much but of course, for the better.  

Don't be afraid to try something southern and delicious.   The beans have a creamy texture and the tomatoes and spice are warming and not too much.  Comfort food at it's best. 

Now the good stuff.  This is where I get excited about a recipe I love.  Nutrition wise.. dried peas are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Especially beneficial in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.  
Dried peas also provide four important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein.  All with virtually no fat.  Dried peas also have isoflavones which are phytonutrients that can act like weak estrogens in the body and whose dietary consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of certain health conditions, including breast and prostate cancer.
Another plus is dried peas have lots of healthy soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that binds bile (which contains cholesterol) and carries it out of the body.  This fiber helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. Seems to be a lot of that going around lately which I believe is due to the amount of increasing GMO's the Standard American Diet has.  

All that is super good and interesting to nutrition-obsessed people like myself.. but this is what I found most interesting about the nutritional benefits of dried peas.  If you are sulfite sensitive, as I am, you might find this helpful too.  
Dried peas are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars. Persons who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed. If you have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them. A cup of cooked dried peas provides 196.0% of the daily value for molybdenum.
You can read more about the nutrition of dried peas here.

Now back to the recipe.. the bacon I use is from Trader Joe's.  It's the end and bits package but is nitrate free and uncured. This is such a good deal and really delicious.  Especially for recipes that need a good start of bacon fat.  We have been spoiled with TJ's and a few months ago I tried Skagit River Ranch bacon.  begin. obsession. Seriously, the best tasting bacon I have ever had in all my many years. So good.  If ever you see it.. it is worth the cost. 

Black Eyed Peas

    4 slices bacon
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 (1 lb.) package dried black-eyed peas, washed and soaked overnight
    1 (12-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
    1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, fire roasted (preferably)  
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    3 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth or water


In a large saucepan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon, crumble, and set aside.
Saute the onion in the bacon drippings until tender. 
Add the peas, diced tomatoes and green chiles, salt, chili powder, pepper and broth or water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the peas are tender. Adding additional water, if needed. 
Serve with crumbled bacon. 

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