Eat black-eyed peas instead of fatty meats like beef.
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Their distinctive spotted appearance, smoky flavor and rich, creamy texture make black-eyed peas a welcome addition to anything from chili and soups to traditional Hoppin' John. And any good Southerner knows that black-eyed peas bring luck if they're the first thing you eat on New Year's Day. But, the dense nutrients and high fiber in black-eyed peas also make them an excellent food choice for healthy and sustainable weight loss year-round.
Benefits of Black-Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are packed full of cholecystokinin, iron, fiber, folate, potassium, protein and thiamin. Cholecystokinin is a natural appetite suppressant. Iron is important for keeping your red blood cells healthy and strong by transporting oxygen through your bloodstream to feed your cells, muscles and organs. Fiber helps keep you feeling full, slows down the insulin response to the carbohydrates in black-eyed peas, and helps your bowels do their job. Potassium supports bones, muscles and heart health, while protein also helps build muscle. Thiamin helps convert food into energy and supports cell strength.
Black-eyed peas are naturally low in both calories and fat, with a 1-cup serving containing fewer than 100 calories and about 1 gram of fat. Their firm, velvety texture, deep, earthy flavor and high fiber content make them an excellent choice to help keep you satisfied and feeling full as you take off those extra pounds.
Choosing Canned, Frozen or Dried
There's a bit of difference in nutritional value between canned and dried black-eyed peas. For example, 1/2 cup of canned black-eyed peas contains 5.7 grams of protein and 1.2 milligrams of iron, while the same amount of cooked dried black-eyed peas offers 6.7 grams of protein and 2.2 milligrams of iron. Both kinds offer 210 grams of folate, which is especially important during pregnancy. Frozen black-eyed peas carry about the same nutritional value as dried, and they usually have less sodium than those that are canned.
So, while dried black-eyed peas are a little higher in most nutrients than canned ones and lower in sodium, they do take longer to prepare. This can be an issue if you're too hungry to wait for them to cook through, because it can lead to unhealthy snacking, which can sabotage your weight loss goalsвЂ¦
Cooking Black-Eyed Peas
Sort dried black-eyed peas to make sure no small stones wandered into the bag when they were harvested and packaged.
Soak your dried black-eyed peas for at least six hours or overnight to help ensure the end result has that luscious, soft texture with just a little bit of bite in the center. Drain the peas and then simmer them alone or as part of a recipe for 60 to 90 minutes. You can also boil them for two minutes, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let them soak for an hour before rinsing them and adding them to your recipe.
Frozen and canned black-eyed peas can be prepared as is, though canned ones should be rinsed thoroughly to remove the canning liquid and extra salt before use. Sodium can cause you to retain water, which will affect the numbers on your scale.
Adding Them to Your Diet
Black-eyed peas are very versatile and can be served either hot or cold.
Saute chopped onion, green peppers or celery and minced garlic in olive or canola oil until they are just starting to get soft. Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, thyme, sage and cayenne pepper for a bit of heat. Add chicken broth and black-eyed peas and simmer until the peas are soft. Serve over cooked brown rice for a simple, healthy version of Hoppin' John.
Mix soaked or canned black-eyed peas in equal amounts with with black beans and kidney beans. Add them to sauteed onion and garlic and season with salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Simmer the beans and vegetables in chicken or vegetable broth for a hearty three-bean chili. Serve with mango (or mandarin orange) and red onion salsa and top with a sprinkle of low-fat sharp cheddar for a sweet and spicy dinner.
Add cooked or canned black-eyed peas to any type of green salad for added texture and bit of extra protein for a filling and nutritious lunch.
Mash cooked or canned black-eyed peas with sauteed garlic, salt and pepper and a teaspoon or so of tahini and spread it on toasted whole grain pita, naan or very coarse multigrain bread. Serve with fresh fruit for a hearty, healthy breakfast that will keep you full enough to keep you from eyeing those donuts in the break room.