Eat. Play. Love.

Pulse Power!

  • May 15th, 2012

When we think of protein, we often think of animal foods. Did you know that pulses, also known as legumes, provide a substantial amount of protein and carbohydrates along with numerous vitamins and minerals? I’m exploring peas (Pisum sativum) today since they are a favorite spring food of mine and plentiful at the local farmers markets. Generally, we enjoy peas as edible-podded sugar snaps, shelled garden peas or snow peas. Of course we can’t forget about those delicious, tender pea shoots, too! Peas can be consumed raw, steamed, sautéed in water or stock, used in a stir-fry or pureed into a dip, smoothie or cold soup. The delicate tendrils or shoots are great in a salad or swirled in a soup.

Now these beautiful spring green pulses pack a mighty punch. They are full of nutrients including vitamin K, C, E and several Bs, beta-carotene manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids in the from of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Rich in antioxidants, peas are anti-inflammatory and have been show to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Their anti-inflammatory benefits can also be helpful in slowing cardiovascular disease.

Like other legumes, peas are rich in fiber and protein which makes them great blood sugar regulators. They are therapeutic for the digestive system and have an affinity for the liver, stomach, spleen and pancreas. One caution: peas ontain purines which can sometimes aggravate gout or kidney stones. So, if you fall into that category, you may have to moderate your pea intake.

Here is one of my favorite spring soups! This version was created by my friend and colleague Ellen Siegel. You can also minimize the water or stock and make it into a wonderful dip and serve it on toasted whole grain baguette or crackers.

Minted Green Pea Soup

Ingredients : 

  • 4-6 cloves of garlic or 1 large shallot, minced and dry roasted
  • ½ cup nut milk, yoghurt, crème fraîche, sour cream, heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups water or stock or to desired consistency
  • 2 sprigs of mint, about 6 inches in total stem length
  • 1 pound of frozen petite peas (or fresh, but they must be blanched first)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • strips of fresh mint for garnish and a dollop of yoghurt, crème fraîche or sour cream

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan (2 1/2 to 3 quart) dry roast garlic and or shallots for a couple of minutes.
  2. In a blender or food processor, add the peas, water or stock, nut milk or cream, garlic and mint springs and blend/process to a smooth consistency. Add more water or cream as necessary.
  3. Taste and correct seasoning.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator and let the flavors meld. You can also heat the soup to serve warm. Serve garnished with crème fraîche and mint strips.

Minted Pea Soup

 

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