Ode to a pea

peas
I eat my peas with honey;

I’ve done it all my life.

It makes the peas taste funny,

But it keeps them on the knife.

Anon.

 

Hugo doesn’t like peas one little bit. In fact, he has a very finely-tuned pea radar in case they have the vulgar indecency to end up in his bowl. Once detected, he takes them in his mouth and spits them onto the floor with OCD-style assiduousness and much disdain. More fool Hugo because the unpresuming garden pea is in fact an exceedingly rich source of nutrition: Just one serving contains as much vitamin C as two apples, more thiamine than a pint of milk and at least half of your daily needs of vitamin K.

Green peas are a member of the legume family and, as such, are a rich and excellent source of protein. They are also particularly high in folic acid as well as other essential B-complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine. They also contain many minerals – calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and manganese.

The antioxidants to be found in peas help reduce free radical damage, which in turn slows down the ageing process. Added to this, their anti-inflammatory agents (including Omega 3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid) keep your body healthy and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes (type 2). Their low glycemic index makes them a good insulin-stabiliser.

Lastly, they contain a compound called genistein which has significant cancer-fighting properties and an effective anti-coagulant action, aiding in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

So now I’ve convinced you that you can’t live without them, how best to consume these little gems? Peas are so versatile that they may be mushed, mashed, puréed, added to soups, pestos, risottos, pasta dishes, salads and muffins. They make a tasty addition to casserole or curry dishes or eaten as an accompanying vegetable seasoned with a few leaves of fresh mint. The less water you use when cooking peas, the less vitamin C is lost; steaming helps to conserve the vitamins. Just don’t bother cooking an extra portion for your dog – it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever appreciate them!

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16 responses to “Ode to a pea

  1. Ah, peas! I’m particularly interested in this because of the reference to Vitamin K. Does your research tell you if we’re talking about. Vit K1, or K2? K1 is best known for its connection with coagulation, but new research is showing that K2 works to help Vitamin D push calcium into bones rather than into arteries. However, K2 isn’t too easy to find in a regular Western diet. And … fresh from the pod, or from the freezer?

    • Hi Martyn! I’m really referring to both forms of vitamin K in that K1 is found in green vegetables and some of it is converted to K2 in the body when it comes into contact with gut bacteria. As for fresh or frozen – obviously straight from the garden is best but frozen is an excellent alternative as they keep their qualities if frozen straight away. I hope you are well.

  2. I love it when you talk nutrition, I learn so much, I knew that peas had to be good for you but not just HOW good for you they are. Great post and BTW, Izzy does the same thing with peas and so does my neighbors dog spits them right out, when I make beef stew for the dogs I will have to mash them (they still manage to spit out the errant pea skin) in the stew when I serve so they don’t spit them all over the floor. But when I do that I risk having Izzy turn up her nose and leave her food.

  3. Fascinating post! I love learning new things about nutrition.

    Peas with mint or pancetta are just wonderful, so I don’t know what Hugo has against them.

    • Thank you! It would seem he’s not the only one to have a major aversion to peas. If I fed him peas with pancetta (which I agree is a wonderful combination), he would meticulously pick out the pancetta and catapult the peas across the room!

  4. We eat peas about once a month, more because they are such an easy vegetable to fix, but I had no idea they are that good for you. I think I will have to fix them more often. I love the idea of pancetta or pearl onions with them. So funny about Hugo. That’s what our chickens do with grapes only they do eat them in the end, after the football game.

  5. This isn’t anonymous – it’s by Spike Milligan! I adore peas – just finding them in bags, in the pod right now in UK. My daughter eats them all in one setting

    • Are you sure? According to The Poetry Foundation it was recited on the radio in 1944, author anonymous…

      They’re in the pod right now in France too (in our vegetable garden) and I’m chomping my way through them even though I had planned to freeze a large amount!

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