Peas and Prosperity in the New Year

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When, founding member of the Black Eyed Peas, was asked how  they chose their band's name he said, “Black-eyed peas are  food for the soul,” and indeed they are. To start the New Year  off in good health, combine Black-eyed peas  for the traditional New Year's dish: Hoppin'  John.

Black-eyed peas are a nourishing and fulfilling food eaten the world  over. With their distinct black dot their name in different languages  usually refers to it. In Greek: mavro (black) matika (eyed). English  colonialists called them “cowpeas.” Dr. Vananda Shiva,  a Delhi-based scientist and environmental activist, recounts in her  1999 book Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply that  the English cursorily categorized the diverse beans they found in  India as animal fodder. They renamed the Vigna unguiculata beans for  cows, hence, cowpeas; for chickens, chickpeas, and pigeons got peas as  well. In the USA, advancing Union troops in the Civil War also made  this mistake. When they destroyed the southern countryside’s  food crops, they ignored the "cowpeas" thinking them only for animal  use – thus they became the lucky  “ha-ha-you-missed-'em" beans.

Black-eyed peas have long been a southern food tradition. Using them  in New Years’ ritual dishes likely goes back to original  Sephardic Jewish settlers in Georgia in the 1760s. Among many symbolic  dishes, lubyah (black eyed peas) are part of traditional Rosh Hashanah  (Jewish New Year) menus. The symbolism of eating black-eyed peas and  greens for the New Year has been passed along into the American  tradition. Since the peas swell when cooked, they invite prosperity,  and the greens symbolize money.

Hoppin' John might inspire kids to hop around until you get this  wonderful dish to the table. But make sure to make extra, the  leftovers are known as Skippin’ Jenny. The combination of  rice, beans, and greens make this a nourishing and comforting dish.

Black-eyed peas alone have 9g protein and 4g fiber per 1/2 cup  serving and also have a low-glycemic index. Combined with a super food  like collard greens, The FruitGuys can't think of a healthier start to  the New Year.


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