As winter gives way to spring, it’s natural to begin craving lighter, sweeter foods. While locally grown leafy greens won’t debut at the farmers’ market until May or June, green peas can ease the transition into spring in myriad delicious ways.
Peas are rich in phytonutrients, including flavanols (like catechin and epicatechin found in green tea and cocoa), phenolic acids (such as those in coffee, berries and artichokes) and carotenoids (such as beta-carotene). They are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Even if you’re watching your starch-carbohydrate intake, there is no need to avoid green peas. Peas are a rich source of vitamin K, manganese, B vitamins, vitamin C, phosphorus, as well as a good source of minerals, including zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium and molybdenum.
Eating peas can be helpful in stabilizing blood sugar. They are a decent source of protein (7 grams in 1 cup), as a starchy vegetable that is high in fiber and low in sugar, they are slowly digested and beneficial for blood sugar regulation.
Whenever possible, buy organic frozen peas—personally, I like this brand. Read the label to make sure that the only ingredient listed is “organic green peas”. Depending on the brand, frozen and canned peas can contain excessive amounts of added salt (check the sodium level), sugar or other preservatives. Despite their sweet taste, peas are relatively low in sugar.
In this dip, sweet peas, paired with baby spinach and basil, make for a pleasing combination of starchy-sweet that’s bound to tame a (junk food) sugar craving.
Sweet Pea Dip with Basil
2 cups frozen organic green peas (cooked)
1 cup baby spinach
1/4 packed cup fresh basil, leaves only
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender, like a VitaMix. Pulse all ingredients until smooth (no lumps). Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
Serve with baby carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, or other vegetables.