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Many people believe that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve will guarantee prosperity for the coming year. It’s thought that each pea represents a gold or silver coin. The  more you eat, the more fortune you’ll acquire. We don’t know about the monetary value, but we do know that eating lots of black-eyed peas may help bring you lots of good health for the coming year!
They’re good for you
Black-eyed peas are full of fiber, packed with protein and low in fat. They are an excellent source of folic acid and a good source of potassium, iron and thiamin. They even pack in a little phosphorus, zinc, niacin and B6.
They’re versatile
Black-eyed peas are mild in taste, with a faintly nutty flavor. They can be steamed and served as a side dish, on their own, seasoned with pepper and a little garlic. Try steamed black-eyed peas seasoned with cumin and curry powder and some shredded kale for an Indian-style dish. Black-eyed peas cooked with collard greens and onions is a popular dish in Kenya. Add cooked, cooled black-eyed peas to chicken, turkey, tuna or tofu salads, as well as to macaroni or  potato salad. One of the beans in four-bean chili should be the black-eyed pea.
Cooking success tips
Black-eyed peas are available fresh, frozen, dried and canned.
Fresh black-eyed peas are seasonal, usually available in the spring. Look for fresh black-eyed peas in the produce or refrigerated sections of the market. Fresh peas are moist and chewy and can be added to green, pasta or rice salads without cooking. To preserve their refreshing taste and texture, add fresh black-eyed peas to hot dishes, such as steamed rice or soups, about five minutes prior to the end of cooking.
Frozen black-eyed peas need only be steamed or microwaved for about five minutes. There is no need to thaw them before cooking. Drain them quickly to maintain their texture.
Dried black-eyed peas don’t have to be soaked before cooking. Just rinse them and cook them slowly with lots of water, no salt needed; it should take only 20-30 minutes. Canned black-eyed peas require minimal heating. Add canned black-eyed peas to hot rice or soup right before serving.
Whichever style of peas you choose, be sure not to overcook them. Plan on serving black-eyed peas immediately after cooking, if possible. That will ensure maximum nutrition, taste and texture.
By Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD

Hoppin' John
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1 lb dried black-eyed peas
1/2 lb diced turkey ham
1 bay leaf
Pinch red pepper flakes
6 cups water
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Black pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until golden.
2. Add black-eyed peas, diced turkey ham, seasonings and water and bring to boil.
3. Add rice and parsley and return to a boil. Lower heat, cover tightly and simmer until peas and rice are tender, about 30 minutes.
4. Season with pepper to taste and serve hot.
Serves 8. Each serving: 313 calories, 3 g fat, <1 g saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 158 mg sodium, 53 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 18 g protein.
Easy ideas & tips:
• Add black-eyed peas to cold dishes such as tossed salad, salsa, pasta salad and bean salad.
• Add them to hot dishes such as chili, pasta dishes, soups and casseroles to add flavor and texture plus many nutrients to your family meals.

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