Uncategorized, What is FOOD?

Is That a Pea in my Pod?

Stir-fried snow peas with prawns - Kao Gang
Image by avlxyz via Flickr

All my life, I have disliked green peas. Growing up, I always dreaded the ubiquitous “vegetable medley” favored at  so many school cafeterias. As a kid, I was not averse to plucking out each and every green pea from my Hungry Man Frozen Dinners lest accidentally consuming one of those green, mushy, mealy and slightly sweet little balls.

Because of my aversion to green peas I eschewed snow pea pods most of life assuming them to be the same dreaded vegetable… only bigger.

It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I finally tried a snow pea pod. I was at a chinese banquet and shrimp with snow pea pods was one of the entrees served. As the waiter ceremoniously served everyone at the table, I did not want to be the only one to say “hold the peas,” so I quietly accepted my fate. I reluctantly tried one snow pea pod.

Surprisingly enough, this snow pea pod did not taste like the green peas of my youth.

Crispy, crunchy and slightly sweet, these pea pods bared little resemblance to the mushy, mealy, overcooked, sweet green mush that I remember being force-fed as a child.

It ends up that although green peas and snow peas are in the same family, they are different foods.  Garden peas or green peas are the seeds that come from the flowering plant pod Pisum Sativum. The pod, round and firm in shape, is technically a fruit, as it has seeds (the peas). However, the peas themselves are considered to be a vegetable. These green peas need to be shelled before eating. The pod is not edible.

Snow peas on the other hand are flat and thin and are meant to be eaten whole. Each snow pea pod has 5 -7 seeds and are relatively flat in shape. The name “mangetout” (French for – eat all) can be applied to this legume and its sister pod, sugar snap peas as both the pod and the interior peas can be eaten.

Then there are the sugar snap peas that are sort of a combo of both. They have plump edible pods that are crispy and crunchy. They do not need to be shelled and can be eaten whole.

Buoyed by my recent interest in experimenting with different vegetables, I decided to cook snow peas pods for the first time.  Having never tried cooking anything remotely resembling a pea before, I did what I alway do and googled “how to cook snow peas pods“. It  seems it is pretty similar to cooking any fresh greens.

First you need to rinse the very well and trim off the woody tips of the snow pea pod. Sautee one small chopped onion, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 1/2 tsp of chopped ginger in some olive oil in a hot skillet for 2 minutes. Then add the cleaned and trimmed snow pea pods into the pot. I added 2 tsp of soy sauce, a teeny bit of sesame oil and some black pepper. I stirred it around and covered the pan for another 2 minutes. Voila, thats it!

The result was a lovely low cal, low carb, crispy, crunchy and satisfying dish. A whole cup of snow peas pods only has less than 5 carbs!

Try eating some snow pea pods. I promise you they do not taste like green peas.

Chow for now!

What is FOOD?

All Hail Kale

Curly kale
Image via Wikipedia

I stopped by my local outdoor farmers market this past Saturday to pick up a few fresh veggies. Unbeknownst to me the market hours are 8:00am to 3:00pm and are strictly enforced. Failure to pack up and vamonos by the witching hour can result in the farmer being fined, or possibly even losing their license.

As I was leisurely meandering through the produce 5 minutes to 3:00, deciding on what to buy, I noticed that all the price signs had already been removed in preparation of closing the stand.

I innocently asked “How much is this?” and “How much is that? to which the busy “farmers” quickly barked out prices while loading their truck.  As I was delicately selecting the greens to put in my bag, the “farmer” impatiently said to me “Lady, how ’bout I give you the rest of whats left in that box (motioning to the large box of Kale) for 5 bucks…. deal? As you all know I love a good deal, this farmer had himself a DEAL!

I triumphantly lugged home several pounds of fresh organic kale home with me ready for some good and healthy eating.

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables out there. It is chock full of:

  • Beta carotene – fights cancer, heart disease, prevents cataracts, boosts immunity, fights asthma, depression, helps immunity, high blood pressure and arthritis
  • Vitamin K – helps with the clotting of blood
  • Vitamin C – good for your skin helps immunity, combats free radicals,
  • Lutein – good for your eyes
  • Calcium – good for you bones, brain and nervous system

Kale also has great antioxidant properties (great for your skin, fights cancer and good for your cells and heart) and is considered an anti-inflamatory.

Although not as popular as cabbage, Kale or borecole is actually a form of cabbage. In fact the name “borecole” finds its origin from the Dutch wordboerenkool” (farmers cabbage).

The great thing about Kale is that is a very fibrous vegetable and can hold its own against other strong flavors. Some green leafy greens like spinach are more delicate and wilt easily. Not kale. Kale is a very strong and hearty green. All Hail Kale!

As it was a dark and rainy day, I decided to make a rich and hearty kale and spicy sausage stew.

I chopped up a few links of spicy sausage and fried them up in my cast iron Dutch oven. I was lucky enough to pick up Di Paola’s free range spicy turkey sausage at the same farmers market, however, any spicy sausage will do. After the sausage was browned and cooked through, I pulled them out of the pot and set aside for later. I then sautéed 1 medium chopped onion and 2 cloves of chopped garlic in the same pot (with the sausage dripping) in a little olive oil. I then dumped in my roughly chopped cleaned kale, 4 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water. I let the goodies come to a boil and then poured the cooked sausage on top of the greens and simmered the stew for 20 minutes of so.

This Kale and spicy sausage stew was the closest thing to heart-healthy, hearty, low- cal and low-carb comfort food you can get.

Next up – Homemade Kale Chips  (What else am I going to do with the other 3 lbs of Kale?)

Chow for now!