Split peas for me, please!

Split peas are a type of field pea that is grown for drying. Split peas come in green and yellow varieties. The yellow is great when you want a milder flavor and the green when you want a sweeter flavor. Split peas don’t need to be soaked before cooking and they cook faster than many other dried legumes.

Split peas and green peas are the same plant but split peas are left to mature longer before they are dried, the outer layer is than removed and the peas is split down the middle. Split peas are an excellent source of fiber, protein and are low in fat. They provide high amounts of several B vitamins, vitamin K and potassium.

If you are in search of an option for a meat free dinner split peas are great choice because of the protein these small little peas provide. Also a cup of split peas have over half your daily fiber packed into them. As most American’s don’t eat enough fiber, which is found only in plants, increasing intake of split peas and other legumes is a great way to increase your intake.

Many countries in the world eat split peas on a regular basis. They are found in many traditional dishes and are native to Central Asia and Europe. Split peas have been found as far back as 2000 BC and came to America with the first settlers.

Split peas store well and last for up to 2 years if stored in an airtight container that is kept in a cool, dry place. Most people just think of split pea soup when using these peas however they also can be made into salads like other legumes.

One of the greatest things about these high protein, fiber packed foods is that they cook quickly and are inexpensive. Unlike other legumes you do not need to soak split peas before you cook them. Depending on how you are using them you just need to simmer the peas in 3 cups of water or broth for one cup of peas.

If you want to have the peas hold their shape for a salad they just need to be cooked for 20 minutes, or if you want a smooth puree for soups or dips simmer for 40 minutes. What a quick, healthy meal! Try adding some yellow or green split peas to your week night meal routine for a protein packed, fiber rich meal.

Mandy Hatfield is the Nutrition Education Program Instructor for OSU Extension Service of Douglas County. Mandy can be reached by e-mail mandy.hatfield@oregonstate.edu or phone at 541-672-4461

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