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Vegetable of the Month: Peas

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Peas have been used in the dry form since ancient times, and archaeologists found them in Egyptian tombs. It was not until the sixteenth century that more tender varieties were developed and eaten fresh. Today only about 5% of all peas grown are sold fresh. More than half of all peas sold are canned and most of the rest are frozen.

Peas
Serving size 1/2 cup (frozen cooked)
Calories 63
Calories from Fat < 1g
Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value
Total Fat 0.2g 0%
  Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0g 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
  Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Protein 4g
Vitamin A 10%
Vitamin C 13%
Calcium 2%
Iron 14%
Thiamin 16%
Folate 12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Green peas are actually a member of the legume family. This family includes plants that bear pods enclosing fleshy seeds. Green peas do not require the long cooking times that are required by dried legumes such as split peas and pinto beans. Peas are a good low calorie source of protein. A 100-calorie serving of peas (about 3/4 cup) contains more protein than a whole egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter and has less than one gram of fat and no cholesterol.

Choosing the Best Peas

Fresh green peas should be refrigerated. Half of their sugar content will turn to starch within six hours if they are kept at room temperature. Low temperatures also preserve their texture and nutrient content. Look for pods that are firm, have glossy pods with a slightly velvety feel, filled to appear almost bursting, and peas should not rattle loosely in the pod. Pods should not be dull, yellowed, or heavily speckled.

Snow peas should be shiny and flat, with very small peas that are barely visible through the pod. Smaller pods are the sweetest and the most tender. Sugar snap peas should be bright green, plump, and firm.

Storing Peas for Freshness

It is best to serve all types of fresh peas the day they are purchased. If they must be stored, place them in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Do not wash them before they are stored. Shell green peas right before you cook them.

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