Tag - peas

Whole Foods Spotlight: Sweet Peas

How many times did you hear, “Eat your peas!” when you were growing up? That piece of parental wisdom is definitely one to follow because sweet peas are tiny little powerhouses of nutrition. Today we share some reasons why you should put another spoonful of peas on your plate.

Packed with anti-oxidants including flavenoids, carotenoids, phenolic acid and polyphenols, peas provide protection to the immune system and protection against the effects of aging. Pisumsaponins and pisomosides, primarily found in peas, are two anti-inflammatory phytonutrients providing protection against heart disease. Also at work to keep the heart healthy? Generous levels of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and folate which lower homocysteine levels linked to a risk factor for heart disease.

While peas are low in fat, they are jam packed with fiber and only have 100 calories per cup making them a great choice for weight management. They contain a phytonutrient called coumestrol which has been linked to stomach cancer prevention. The high fiber content helps stave off constipation and keep the bowels running smoothly.

For optimum bone health and osteoporosis prevention, getting enough Vitamin K and B is key. Once cup of peas contains over 40% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin K.

Peas are one of the best plants you can have in the garden to maintain healthy soil. The plant works with bacteria in the soil to replenish nitrogen levels. The plant easily breaks down into the soil after a crop has been harvested. They are also able to grow with minimal water, saving that valuable resource as well.

Soon after harvesting, much of their sugar content rapidly converts to starch so it’s best to consume them as soon as possible after they are picked. They can be kept in the refrigerator for two to three days, which helps to keep the sugars from turning to starch. If you are looking to freeze them for later use, blanch them for 1 to 2 minutes prior to putting them in the freezer where they can last from 6 months to a year.

Garden Planning – Part One – Early Spring Crops

Have you been thinking about growing some of your own food? While it’s a bit too early in most of the country to really start digging in the dirt, this is the perfect time to do a little garden planning! Whether the prospect seems a little overwhelming or you are just hoping to keep the process as simple and productive as possible, over the next few weeks we’ll be offering some suggestions for you of the easiest items to grow in a home garden. Today we’re focusing on those crops that can be planted in these early days before true spring arrives.

Lettuces – For a new gardener, starting plants from seed can be a difficult and intimidating prospect. Lettuces are a great option as they can be directly sown into the soil. A few weeks after planting in the garden, you will want to go over the area and thin out the seedlings a bit. Since it’s a cool weather plant they can be sown in early spring or fall and are tolerant of a little bit of frost. If temperatures dip below 45 degrees or there’s snow in the forecast, covering the plants with plastic or a sheet should help to protect them. To keep a continuous supply, replant every two to three weeks.

Potatoes – It depends upon what zone you live in and soil temperatures but traditionally, in many parts of the United States, potatoes are planted in the garden around St. Patrick’s Day. A couple of days before you plant them, you’ll want to quarter the seed potatoes and store them in a warm dark place, allowing them to toughen up and dry out a little. In a typical garden, you’ll want to plant them about 2 inches deep and 8 inches apart and mulch them with straw. However, if space is limited, you can always try bucket planting.

Peas – Sweet, delicious peas are a favorite in the home garden as they are relatively easy to grow and produce well. The seeds are small and should be planted shallowly, no more than a ½ inch deep. This allows them to germinate and sprout quickly, usually in about a week. Sow the seeds about 2.5 inches apart and as the plants grow, you will want to install some sort of trellis for them to climb.
Check back with us next week for more ideas for your spring garden!