WARNING: the foods we cook for Abby are safe for her, but not necessarily for everyone. Please confirm any ingredients are safe for you before using in your diet. Food Allergies can kill and the best policy is complete avoidance. Read this post for more info.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pigeon Peas

I have days where I do a lot more reading recipes then cooking them. Seems like each time I discover some new ingredient with which I am not familiar. Or an ingredient I have eaten but never prepared for myself. That triggers finding out about the "new" foods nutritional value, how to prepare it, whether is a common allergen and finally if the food has been used holistically.

Recently I have noticed "pigeon peas" in many of the African,Indian, and Puerto Rican recipes I have been salivating over.

From what I can gather, the dried or canned pigeon peas are used in a similar manner as any other bean or lentil. Ground to flour, or soaked or even fresh if you can find them, the nutrition profile on this little pea is impressive. It is a "drought" hardy crop and is gaining popularity for how easy it can be grown. Unfortunately it is very frost sensitive but some Southern gardeners are growing them as an annual.

The pigeon pea is nutrition packed for sure! Magnesium,B vitamins,C,K and potassium. Lots of great fiber. The fiber means extra caution for sensitive GI tracks. I will likely introduce this by grinding to flour, and then cooking. Of course the more you cook and break down a food you are depleting some of it's value, but better a little then none. I wonder if I can find some fresh somewhere in Houston? Until then I will check the Indie/Paki store and Asian market. I went ahead and ordered a bag dried pigeon pea's until I can locate them locally. From what I have read they are more widely available canned then dried or fresh but we try to avoid canned food so dried for us - if we find a great recipe for these, I will be sure to share!

A bit of information from San Francisco Chronicle

Pigeon peas, a popular vegetable in tropical countries, are healthy and versatile. Ripe pigeon peas are a common ingredient in dhal, an Indian split-pea soup. Immature pigeon pea seeds, also called green pigeon peas, are reputed as an old folk medicine remedy for liver and kidney ailments, according to Purdue University, but they offer real health benefits today. They are a nutrient-rich addition to rice or a variety of other foods and can supplement your diet with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Calories, Fat, Protein and Fiber
Green pigeon peas are moderate in calories and high in nutrients. Each cup of cooked green pigeon peas has 209 calories, 11 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fat and 8 grams of fiber. If you are trying to lose weight or increase your fiber intake, you can get more benefits from eating them raw. A cup of uncooked pigeon peas provides only 170 calories, 9 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat and 9.5 grams of fiber. The cooked version is higher in sugar, with 4.6 grams, compared to 3.8 grams of sugar in raw green pigeon peas.
B-complex Vitamins
Green pigeon peas benefit your ability to metabolize food. They contain a wide array of B-complex vitamins that help your body turn fat, protein and carbohydrates into energy. Each cooked cup provides half the thiamin and one-fourth of the riboflavin and niacin you need each day. They also contain 36 percent of your daily requirement for folate and 6 percent for vitamin B-6. When pigeon peas are cooked, some of their water-soluble nutrients are depleted. For that reason, a cup of raw green pigeon peas provides nearly twice as much folate as its cooked counterpart, giving you 63 percent of your recommended daily intake for that B vitamin.
Vitamins C and K
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that benefits your cells and immune system. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men get 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day and that women get 75 milligrams. A cup of cooked green pigeon peas provides 43 milligrams of vitamin C, but since it is a water-soluble nutrient, a cup of raw green pigeon peas is significantly higher in vitamin C, with 60 milligrams. Pigeon peas are also rich in vitamin K, a nutrient that ensures proper blood clotting, protecting you from bleeding disorders. A cup of pigeon peas, cooked or raw, gives you more than 100 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin K.
Essential Mineral Benefits
A cup of cooked pigeon peas provides one-fourth of your daily requirement for bone-building phosphorus and one-fifth for muscle- and nerve-protecting magnesium. It gives men one-third of the iron and one-tenth of the zinc they need daily. Women need more iron and less zinc, so the same serving size provides women with 13 percent of the iron and 15 percent of the zinc they should get each day. A serving of pigeon peas also gives you one-seventh of the potassium you need daily, with 698 milligrams of this nutrient that helps your body maintain a healthy balance of water and promotes proper nerve function. Cooking pigeon peas depletes them of some potassium; a cup of raw pigeon peas has 850 milligrams of potassium.


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