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By Karen Alexander, Oncology Wellness Specialist


Oh Snap! Everything you need to know about peas

Peas are one of the first food crops cultivated by humans and have been found in historical sites for almost 10,000 years. Domesticated pea cultivars appeared shortly after the domestication of wheat and barley crops, and cultivation of peas spread throughout Europe, India, and China about 4,000 years ago. 

Peas are a member of the legume family, which includes beans, lentils and chickpeas among others. Green peas have unedible pods and sweet, full-sized seeds. Most edible-pod peas have seeds that are not yet fully developed. Snow peas are the flat ones with immature seeds used a lot in Asian Stir fries. Sugar snap peas are the sweet shelled plump ones with round peas inside. Sugar snap peas are a hybrid of green and snow peas that were developed in 1979 and are completely edible. The pods are juicy, crispy, sweet, and crunchy.

Peas are low in calories and are a good source of protein. Just a ¾ cup of peas contains more protein than a whole egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter, less than one gram of fat and no cholesterol. Sugar snap peas are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin K, vitamin B1 and also provide iron, folate, fiber and vitamin A.

How to choose
Snap peas should be bright green and without spots. Be sure that the pods are firm and glossy with a velvety soft feel. You can test for quality by snapping one end. The pod should be crisp, so make sure to avoid if pods are dull, yellowed or heavily speckled.

How to store 
-For a sweetest taste, eat the snow peas as fresh as possible.
-Store peas can be storage in the refrigerator unwashed and in an open or perforated plastic bag for up to 1 week.
-Frozen pea pods are just as nutritious and fresh and can be stored more easily. Peas can be blanched and stored frozen for several months.

How to prepare
- Serve fresh snap peas with low-fat dip for a crunchy snack. 
- Do not overcook in order to maintain their bright color, flavors, and sweetness. Blanching can bring out the bright color and sweet flavor. Quickly place them in ice-water after blanching.
- Toss fresh or frozen snap peas with other veggies and chicken strips for a healthy stir fry.
- Peas also taste great grilled, roasted or stir fried.
- Snap peas taste great plain or with other seasonings like garlic, Italian seasoning, balsamic vinegar, or Asian seasoning like sesame and ginger.

This week's quick and easy recipe comes from:

Parmesan Roasted Snap Peas
8 oz. Mann's String-less Sugar Snap Peas
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Toss the peas with olive oil, salt and pepper, then with the parmesan, panko breadcrumbs and lemon zest.
- Arrange on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes.
- Serve immediately and enjoy.

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