Most kids know and like peas because they’re small, sweet, and soft. But don’t let their size fool you: peas are seriously packed with nutrients! One cup of raw peas is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A and C, plus vitamin K, B1 (thiamin), folate, the mineral manganese, and dietary fiber. Not to mention, that one cup provides a good source of riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, copper, and zinc! What more could you ask for? More peas, please!
Peas are super easy to grow. We use newspaper planters to grow peas from seeds as a great activity at the Barn or in schools before we put them in the ground. But, these mighty pea seeds can be planted directly into the ground in the very early spring and are harvested by late May or early June. Peas grow in pods, and are typically shelled before they’re eaten (which makes for a fun activity for small hands), although you can actually eat the pods of certain varieties, like sugar snap peas and snow peas. The pods grow on vines that can grow to be very tall, and they are best to be trellised. HealthBarn kids love picking pea pods from the vine and eating them fresh from the garden!
It can be hard to find fresh peas—they’re often canned or frozen—but when they’re in season, it’s definitely worth buying and shelling fresh peas from the pod. Or grow them in your own garden! They are delicious! Otherwise, frozen peas usually taste the freshest and retain the most nutrients. Kids usually like them simply boiled, but they also make a great addition to pasta primavera dishes, like Stacey’s Pasta and Sweet Peas recipe from Appetite for Life. And watch her cooking up this delicious recipe at her recent appearance at the Our Global Kitchen Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Your sweet pea will love it!
Pasta and Sweet Peas
From Appetite for Life, by Stacey Antine, MS, RD
Garden-fresh sweet peas make this high-fiber recipe a favorite at the barn. This delicious pasta dish is good served hot or cold, so it’s a popular leftover with kids for the lunchbox. It’s high in vitamin C to keep the immune system in top form.
Kids can take tomato quarters and chop into cubes and chop oregano using a plastic knife with adult supervision.
1 package (13.25 ounces) whole wheat penne or rotelle pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion*, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh peas, shelled, or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup (1.5 ounces) shredded low moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated
*Spanish onions are readily available and sweeter than a regular onion.
- In a large saucepot of boiling water, cook pasta as label directs. Drain pasta and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
- Add tomatoes, water, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook, uncovered, until tomatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in pasta and peas and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors and cook peas.
- Remove saucepan from heat; stir in mozzarella and Parmesan.
Makes 10 servings (1 cup per serving)
Nutrition Facts per serving: 210 calories; 5g fat (1g sat fat, 2g mono, 1g poly, 0g trans fat); 5mg cholesterol; 35g carbohydrate (5g fiber, 5g sugar); 8g protein; 65mg sodium; 8% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 20% DV vitamin C; 8% DV calcium; 8% DV iron.
What’s your favorite “pea” recipe?