The black-eyed pea, also known as the cow pea, is thought to have originated in North Africa, where it has been eaten for centuries. It may have been introduced into India as long as 3,000 years ago, and was also a staple of Greek and Roman diets. The peas were brought to the New World by Spanish explorers and African slaves. The earliest records are from 1674 when they were introduced to the West Indies. They have become a common food in the southern United States, where they are available dried, fresh, canned, and frozen.
With their characteristic black spot, or “eye,” on cream-colored skin, black-eyed peas are among the most recognizable legumes. Also known as black-eye Susans or cowpeas, they are traditionally enjoyed in the form of Hoppin’ John – a southern United States specialty featuring black-eyed peas and rice – they are said to bring “good luck” when eaten on New Year’s Day. The peas represent pennies or coins, and are served with collard greens to represent money and cornbread to represent gold.
Black-eyed peas are a variety of the cowpea and are part of the family of beans & peas. Although called a pea, it is actually a bean. Both peas and beans are legumes, and both have edible seeds and pods. They are available dried, frozen and canned and offer several health benefits when included in a well-balanced diet. They make a good addition to soups, stews and salads and are also a healthy side dish.
Black-eyed peas are part of the legume family that is known as being a primary source of plant protein. Protein helps with maintaining healthy muscles, bones and cartilage. Black-eyed peas also contain vital nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin E, iron and potassium. They can even help with weight loss because they’re filling but low in calories. A half-cup serving has only 80 calories, making black-eyed peas an excellent choice for anyone trying to drop excess weight.
Like most beans, black-eyed beans are rich in the best sort of fiber – soluble fiber – which helps to eliminate cholesterol from the body. They are a good source of folate, potassium, copper, phosphorous and manganese. As a high-potassium, low-sodium food they help reduce blood pressure. Black-eyed peas also contain vital nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin E and iron.
Not only are they low in fat, but also supply high quality protein which provides a healthy alternative to meat or other animal protein. Beans also contain protease inhibitors which frustrate the development of cancerous cells.
Black-eyed peas have so many health benefits here are a few of them:
- Aids the digestive system and the colon: Due to its high fiber content it helps with elimination and keeps cancer at bay. Fiber is a nutrient that helps regulate your digestive system, and increasing your intake could help alleviate constipation and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber also helps keep your cholesterol levels healthy by preventing cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream, which reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Additionally, high-fiber foods keep you feeling full, since they are digested slowly — which is important for weight control.
- Good for the heart: It contains fiber, flavonoids no cholesterol and therefore is advantageous for the heart.
- Good for the stomach: It helps with problems associated with the stomach, pancreas as well as spleen.
- Helps in weight loss: Low in fat and calories makes them a nutritious accessory for a weight-loss diet plan. A diet which is lower in fat and calories can help you slim down, avoids putting on weight and safeguards you from numerous health problems, which includes cardiovascular disease, diabetes and also depressive disorders.
- Helps with the bladder: It has been confirmed to be useful in reducing blockages or even discomfort related to urination problems.
- Lowers cholesterol level: Cowpeas are well known because of their capability to reduce the plasma cholesterol within your body. This really is aided by them being recognized like an excellent method of obtaining proteins as well as dietary fibers, and it has a comparatively lower glycemic index.
- Rich in anti-oxidants: The anti-oxidation property restricts the growth of the cancerous cells within the body.
Black-eyed Pea Selection
Select dried black-eyed peas that are smooth skinned and creamy white. If purchasing from “bulk bins,” be sure the store has a good turnover of beans so that you are getting “new” not “old” beans that have been sitting in the bin for 6 months or more.
How to cook black-eyed peas
Soaking is not essential for black-eyed peas, but cooking time can be shortened if they get a quick soak in hot water (as opposed to a longer one in cold water, like other beans). Place dried peas in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to stand for 60-90 minutes. Drain water and replace with fresh, cold water for cooking – or if you skipped the hot-soaking step, just rinse and add cold water. Place on stove and bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilting the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for up to an hour, or until tender.
How to Enjoy
The flavorful peas are used to make a variety of tasty dishes like: soups, salads, fritters, and casseroles; they can also be puréed into a hummus-like spread; or sprouted.
Here is a great recipe:
Texas Caviar Recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4-6.
- 4 cups of cooked black-eyed peas (2 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
- 8 green onions, just the green parts thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 3 jalapeño chile peppers, stems and seeds removed (wear gloves! do not touch your eyes after handling them!), finely chopped
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced, or 1/2 cup of canned diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- In a medium bowl, stir together the black-eyed peas, green onion greens, cilantro, chopped jalapeño, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and cumin. Pour over the the black-eyed pea mixture. Stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Best chilled for several hours. Serve cold as a side salad or with tortilla chips.