2016 Resolution: Eat Your Peas and Greens

The traditional New Year’s Day soul food meal is loaded with nutritional benefits. So go ahead and indulge, but make sure you don’t kill the goodness with unnecessary fat, salt and calories.

Throughout the South and in many black neighborhoods, families will sit down for a home-cooked meal of black-eyed peas, greens and pork. The humble peas are said to be a sign of humility but this simple bean is loaded with vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate and iron. The greens symbolize the US dollar and prosperity. One cup of boiled or sauted greens  is a rich source of vitamin K and also contain folate, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, choline, phosphorus and potassium. The pork? Well, that’s just because it flavors everything so nicely but can add fat to an otherwise healthful dish.

Considering that it is the 21st Century and not the 19th, we can skip the fatback and opt instead for a bit smoked turkey for meat eaters and liberal use of garlic, onions and seasons for those who don’t want the animal fat. Garlic, sesame oil, onions and red pepper flakes along with the use of a vegetable broth can give flavor to collard greens without the fat that comes with using pork. There are any number of ways to kick up black-eyed peas. You can combine collards and the peas as in this recipe from The New York Times Cooking site. Or spice them up in this heart-healthy curry recipe that many Indians traditionally cook.


Sunny Anderson of the Food Network’s “Cooking for Real” show flavors her southern-style collard greens with tomatoes, red pepper flakes, garlic, onions and just a bit of butter.

It can be done without rebellion at the dinner table.

It’s a new year and with obesity rates going through the roof in our community, resolve to keep the flavor but just lose the fat.

Black-eyed pea photo by Andrea Nguyen under the CC 2.0 license.

Collard Greens photo by Bordecia34 under the CC 2.0 license

Author: Retha Hill

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