When I was growing up, my sister and I were often given the choice of either peas or corn as a vegetable to go along with dinner. For whatever reason, these were the frozen bags stored by my mother in our freezer, an easy way for a single mother to incorporate plant food into the meal set upon our kitchen table. As it turns out, neither of these selections are vegetables. As a grain, corn yields little nutritional value and is nearly all of the time genetically modified today; peas are a legume meaning they have a high protein value and tons of fibre! Vegetable or not, they’re a great way to amp up any meal!
Peas are high in vitamin K which can be difficult to get from food sources, have good amounts of most B vitamins. They are low in fat & high in fibre (which also makes them great for keeping blood sugar in a happy place). There are also studies suggesting peas have protective effects against stomach cancer!
There’s much debate in the world of paleo eating as to whether green peas are in fact an acceptable legume or not. Legumes are generally avoided by those following this eating plan as they contain phytohaemagglutinin which is the lectin contained in legumes. Lectins are proteins that protect plants from any enemies they may have. In order to avoid being destroyed by hungry critters, they developed a defence system that sickens those who eat the plant. A sort of low-grade toxin or anti-nutrient if you will.
While peas are very much a legume, they contain a much smaller amount of lectin than say kidney beans (which when eaten raw will make you very ill). Despite the fact that they do contain this toxic phytohaemagglutinin, there isn’t much of it in fresh (or frozen) peas. So put some peas on your plate with a great recipe from Ricki Heller, an anti-candida activist, holistic nutritionist & cookbook author!
Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) Sucanat or other unrefined evaporated cane juice
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) ground cumin
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) garam masala
3/4 tsp. (7.5 ml.) fine sea salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. (1-2.5 ml.) chili powder, to your taste
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) tomato purée (I used organic ketchup and omitted the Sucanat, above)
3/4 cup (180 ml.) unsweetened almond or soymilk
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. (10 ml.) chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 fresh green chili, chopped (optional–I omitted it as all the other dishes were very spicy)
3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. (2. 5 ml.) black or yellow mustard seeds (I used black)
2-10 ounce (285 g.) bags frozen peas, defrosted under lukewarm water and drained
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) organic cornstarch or arrowroot powder, if needed
Combine Sucanat, cumin, garam masala, salt, chili powder & tomato purée in the bottom of a medium-sized bowl. Slowly stir in 2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) water and mix well. Add soymilk gradually and mix; then add the lemon juice, cilantro and optional green chili. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frypan over med-high heat. Once hot, add cumin & mustard seeds and fry until the seeds begin to pop (20-30 seconds). Add the peas and fry for 30 more seconds before adding the sauce to the pan. Cook on medium-high heat for about 2 mins, or until the sauce has thickened. For a thicker sauce, ladle out about 1/2 cup of the sauce into a small bowl and blend with the 1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) cornstarch. Add this mixture back to the frypan and stir until thickened.
Serve over rice. Makes about 6 servings.