In addition to carbohydrates and fiber, peas generally provide Vitamins A, B (most of the complex), and C, as well as lutein, a nutrient necessary for good eyesight. There are several varieties of peas to choose from:
• Black Eyed Peas – very common in Southeastern U.S. cuisine, this is a staple (along with rice) of the New Year’s Day good-luck dish called Hoppin’ John.
• Chick Peas – see Legume Choices: The Beans, as these are actually a member of the bean family. Also known as Ceci Beans and Garbanzo Beans.
• Fava Beans – despite the name, they are a member of the pea family. Labor intensive to prepare: in addition to stringing and shucking there is a hard, waxy layer around each individual ‘bean’ that must be removed before it can be cooked. Nutty in flavor and buttery in texture.
• Green Peas – the most common pea consumed in the U.S. Best fresh (they will need to be shucked) or frozen, as the canned varieties tend to turn somewhat gray and mushy, and lose much of their flavor and nutrients in the canning and storing process.
• Snow Peas – popular in Chinese cuisine, these are peas eaten prior to ripening while still in the pod. Commonly used in stir-fry dishes.
• Split Peas (Green or Yellow) – usually sold in dried form, these make a pair of delicious, creamy soups.
• Sugar Snap Peas – a Snow/Green Pea hybrid, they differ from Snow Peas in that they are not flat but can still be eaten, pod and all. Very sweet and crunchy, often eaten raw in salads or on vegetable trays with dip.
• Yellow Peas – a bit milder than the Green Pea, usually sold in split, dried form when you can find them.