Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Recipe for Happiness like Peas in a Pod

The phrase like two peas in a pod means something that is identical. It comes from the fact that the peas in a pod are virtually indistinguishable. It is an old saying that dates back to the 16th century.

Peas are a staple in England where they grow and export a very large amount of peas. Canada and not England is the largest exporter. But where do you think the Canadian got the peas from? If you are lucky enough to be in England in the spring time you will get the fresh spring peas which are a delicacy. When I was in London in late May we ate fresh peas served as “mushy peas” which is a soft smashed up pea dish somewhere between smashed wholes peas and peas soup. The taste was very fresh, but I must admit I prefer my peas whole. Apparently mushy peas is the modern version of an old recipe for pea pie. Anyway you serve peas the Brits are all so happy with their fresh spring peas. And quite interestingly here in Los Angles it is all the rage to have English spring peas on the menu.

But, do these little green pellets really make us happy? When I was young the boys in our neighborhood would take the peas and shoot them at the girls through straws, known as peas shooters. If they didn’t have peas they would make little spit balls in the shape of peas and shoot them into the girl’s hair and then laugh like crazy. My brother and I would use our spoons to snap peas at each other at the dinner table when my parents were not looking. This of course was fun and made us laugh. Playing with peas does make for good fun and happy memories.

Nutritionally peas are a great source of phytonutrients. Flavanols (including catechin and epicatechin), phenolic acids (including caffeic and ferulic acid), and carotenoids (including alpha- and beta-carotene) are among the phytonutrients provided by green peas. Phytonutrients are certain organic components of plants and these components promote human health. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and teas are rich in phytonutrients which are different than proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals which are essential for life. Peas are aso a good source of Vitamin C, vitamin K and manganeses. You probably recognize lycopene, and beta carontene which studies have shown are phytonutrients that support heart and eye health.

Although we think of peas as a vegetable they are actually a legume. Legumes are foods that bear fruits in the form of pods. Lentils, chickpeas and beans are also legumes. However, peas are one of the few legumes that are picked and eaten fresh while the other legumes are dried before cooked.

Happiness is an elusive concept with different meanings for different people. However, a state of happiness is something all people strive to achieve. Happiness I would argue is characteristic of a good life and a good life is fulfilling.  Enjoying pea’s fresh from the pod in springtime fulfills the need to share the good nutritious aspect of life with those we love. Happiness is found in the simple things in life. Like peas in a pod, at the most basic level, we all share the same need to be happy. That’s why we love peas- they make us giggle and smile.


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