August 2009: Super Split Peas

Can you believe it is already August?!  Summers always go so fast.  It is a favorite time of year, and we all know that time flies when you’re having fun!

Speaking of fun, I wanted to tell you all about an exciting chef’s demonstration event that Nurture is putting on at the Glenview Farmers Market (located right at Wagner’s Farm in Glenview) on August 29th from 10-11am.  Julia Goodhouse and Elizabeth Matlin will be taking some fresh and local produce and turning it into delicious meals right before your eyes.  Bring the kids, visit the animals at the farm, pick up some fresh local produce, and take part in a cooking lesson all in one trip.  For more information about the Glenview Farmers Market, please visit  We hope to see you there!

This month will be our third installment of the series on “Eating Healthy on a Budget” (see May’s Glorious Grains and July’s Loving Lentils for the first two installments).

This month we will focus on a nutritious, very low cost food that can be used in so many different ways: split peas.  When most of us in the U.S. think of split peas, perhaps a soup comes to mind.  However, split peas are on the menu on a daily basis in other parts of the world like India, where the staple Dal (or Dhal) is served using many different varieties (and colors) of split peas.  We will see that split peas can be used in soups, dhals, made into dips, and incorporated into great summer salads, among many other things.

What are Split Peas? Dried peas are seeds from the legume, pisum sativum (garden pea), that have been dried, peeled and in the case of split peas, split.  Split peas come in yellow and green varieties (in the U.S., but there are many other varieties globally), and have been mechanically split so they cook faster.

Why Should Split Peas Be Incorporated Into the Family Menu? Besides being extremely economical, split peas have a great nutrition profile.  Here is a chart created by Heather Sullivan, R.D. (1).

Split Peas
½ cup cooked
Calories Fat Sat Fat Carb Fiber Protein Vitamin Minerals Misc
Green split peas 168 7 0.5 20 8 8 Folate Acid, Thiamin Potassium, Magnesium, Iron Foods high in Potassium and Magnesium help regulate blood pressure.
Yellow split peas 168 7 0.5 20 8 8 Folate Thiamin Potassium, Magnesium, Iron Foods high in Potassium and Magnesium help regulate blood pressure.

Split Peas are great vegetarian sources of protein.  They are also much lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber than animal sources of protein, which means good news for your heart and overall health!

How Can Spit Peas Be Easily Incorporated Into Family Meals?
As a starting point for incorporating split peas into meals, let’s rely on our recipe framework system introduced in the earlier newsletters.  You can combine various elements of the meal based on family taste preferences as well as what you have on hand in your fridge, freezer and pantry.

Here is the Split Pea Recipe Framework for Lunches/ Dinners

Note:  You’ll notice that we’ve suggested using a rice cooker to cook your split peas because it is so easy (and fast!) to prepare them this way.  You can also cook split peas the conventional way using a pan on the stovetop.  If you don’t have a rice cooker, there are some inexpensive options in the Recommended Products store.

Here is an examples of a recipe using split peas developed by Nurture:

Split Pea Recipe Framework Example: Split Pea and Bulgur Salad

As we’ve done before with grains and lentils, some friends have helped me do some further experiments with split peas:  Beth Busch, Julia Goodhouse, Tanya Nargolwalla and Colleen Scopacasa.  I was thrilled with their creativity, as I would myself never have thought of some of the great things they did with split peas.  A huge thank you to the four of them!

Invented by Recipe Name Split Pea Fruit/ Veggie Seasoning Grain or Additional Protein Source Comments
Beth Fish and Split Peas yellow split peas fire roasted tomatoes, fresh parsley, fresh basil capers, pepper, balsamic vinegar tuna fish My kids added a squirt of mustard after initially tasting it. One of my children thought good and one just ok.  I loved it!
Colleen Split Cream green or yellow split peas (see comments) (see comments) sour cream Puree cooked split peas and add to sour cream.  I used it as a topping on a turkey burger and as topping on a baked potato – delicious!  Spread it on a tortilla before you add your fajita, burrito, taco toppings.  It can even be chilled and used as a dip for peppers, carrots, etc.
Colleen Split Pea Guacamole green split peas green onions, cilantro, avocados, tomatoes garlic, lime. salt and hot sauce all to taste Just like you are making regular guacamole but we are adding some delicious split peas.  Sneaky!
Colleen Split Pea and Garlic Crostini green or yellow split peas basil garlic (roasted whole) Spread split pea/ roasted garlic mixture on top of crostini and add a little basil leaf for garnish – yum.
Julia Cheddar Pea Quesadillas yellow split peas Sweet onion olive oil, salt, pepper mild cheddar cheese, grated In food processor, blend the (cooked) peas, cheddar cheese, onion, and oil (about 2 or 3 t) until smooth. Heat tortillas on a griddle or in a fry pan.  Add a good dollop of the pea mixture on half of tortilla and fold over the other half.  Flip to continue heating until cheese melts and is heated through.  Could also be used as a dip with cut up veggies or pita bread.
Julia Sundried Tomato and Split Pea Dip yellow split peas onion, shallots, sundried tomato bay leaf, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, olive oil, lemon Put sundried tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, shallots, basil, oregano, and thyme In a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the (cooked) split peas and with the machine running, add the olive oil.  Process until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.Serve with whatever sounds good to you.
Kathryn Split Pea Salad green split peas fresh greens, roasted beets, fresh herbs dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon, stevia shaved parmesan cheese or crumbed feta The combination of the split peas and the roasted beets makes for a an eye appealing and delicious dish.
Kathryn Red and Green Salad green split peas tomatoes, cucumber avocado dressing of basil, olive oil, lemon and red wine vinegar hard boiled egg I found split peas to be a great way to add more heartiness to a salad as I waited for my other hearty garden veggies to ripen (it is such a late harvest this summer!)
Tanya Yellow Dal (Mori Dal) yellow split peas turmeric, Salt rice (cooked) Cook and puree the split peas.  Then add other ingredients.  Favourite of our kids and their friends.  Comes out bright yellow!  Be careful not to add too much turmeric (about ½ tsp per cup of dried peas).

Have fun on your own adventures with split peas!


(1)  Heather Sullivan, R.D.

Disclaimer: This column is for information only, and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation or endorsement by the author. You should always ask your physician for his or her recommendation before starting any new health-related activity.

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