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Blackeyed peas are one of the most commonly used legumes in the world. They are dispersed widely in many countries and a staple in some cultures. They are kidney-shaped and have white skin, including fine wrinkles, with a small black eye. Fresh blackeyed peas release a distinctive aroma while cooking.
All legumes need to be "picked through" and washed before cooking; commercial brands are not always washed thoroughly prior to packaging and may include rocks. Unlike beans, lentils and peas do not need to soak prior to cooking. All you have to do is boil them in water for 3 to 4 minutes, drain the water, add chicken or beef stock to the beans and cook for another 45 minutes. That's it -- no waiting for 6 to 8 hours for blackeyes to be done. The cooking time is fast compared to beans, which need to soak for 6 to 8 hours and then cook for another 2 to 3.
Don't add ingredients high in saturated fat, such as animal fat or butter, to flavor blackeyed peas. Turkey thighs and vegetable oil are healthier alternatives to hard fats like fat back and ham hocks to cook blackeyed peas. Use herbs and spices to season the beans. Spanish onion, black pepper and garlic are salt-free alternative ingredients that can preserve the "healthy" label of cooked blackeyed peas. Avoid adding salt or acidic ingredients, such as vinegar, tomatoes or juice; this will slow the cooking process.
Blackeyed peas can be eaten cold, warm or hot and as an ingredient in salads. Blackeyed peas can be substituted for other peas such as crowder and purple hull. They can be added to any dip recipe, chili or soup, and can serve as a healthy side dish. Blackeyes are a common dish in the Southeastern United States; a particularly Southern dish that contains blackeyed peas is hoppin' John. Many variations of this recipe exist, but most recipes include rice, bell peppers, celery, onions and garlic.
Blackeyed peas are a source of calcium and fiber, and are naturally low in sodium and calories. The combination of black-eyed peas and rice results in complete protein and can be a tasty vegetarian meal. One unfortunate side effect of eating legumes, including blackeyed peas, is intestinal discomfort. Soaking before cooking helps; also drink adequate fluids and exercise regularly so that your gastrointestinal system can handle the increased dietary fiber if you decide to add blackeyed peas to your diet.
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Charmaine Jones began freelance writing in 2010, specializing in health, diet and nutrition. She has experience with writing and editing grants and has written publications for nonprofit organizations. Jones holds a Master of Public Health in health promotion from the University of South Carolina.
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