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Pea is a small spherical seed like pod of the legume Pisum sativum. The peapods are botanically a fruit as they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a pea flower. Peas could be either fresh or dried and they are considered as vegetable in cooking.
Pea or the garden pea is an annual plant and is a cool season crop grown in many parts of the world. The pea could be used as a vegetable, fresh, frozen or canned. The garden pea is thought to have originated from field pea a native to central Asia and Europe. In fact, history says that peas are mentioned in the Bible and were prized by the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome.
The French king Louis XIV popularized peas in the 17th century by making them an item of high regard on the menus of parties held at his palace; it is suggested that snow peas were developed in Holland around the same time. Peas were introduced into United States soon after the colonists first settled in this country. It was only recently, in the 1970s, that sugar snap peas were developed, the result of a cross between garden peas and snow peas. Today, United States, Great Britain, China, Hungary and India are the largest commercial producers of fresh peas.
Generally there are about three varieties of peas that are commonly eaten: garden or green peas, snow peas and snap peas. Garden peas are rounded pods that are usually slightly curved in shape with a smooth texture and vibrant green color. Inside of them are green rounded pea seeds that are sweet and starchy in taste. Snow peas are flatter than garden peas, and since they are not fully opaque, you can usually see the shadows of the flat pea’s seeds within. Snap peas, a cross between the garden and snow pea, have plump pods with a crisp, snappy texture. The pods of both snow peas and snap peas are edible, and both feature a slightly sweeter and cooler taste than the garden pea. Smaller ones tend to be sweeter.
The garden peas are available from spring through the beginning of winter. Snow peas can usually be found throughout the year in Asian markets and from spring through the beginning of winter in supermarkets. Snap peas are more limited in their availability. They are generally available from late spring through early summer. Legumes are plants that bear fruit in the form of pods enclosing the fleshy seeds we know as beans. Peas are one of the few members of the legume family that are sold and cooked as fresh vegetables. However, only about 5% of the peas grown are sold fresh; the rest are either frozen or canned. Frozen peas are preferable to canned peas as they retain their flavor and have lower sodium content.
Snow peas and snap peas can be eaten raw and when cooked they become sweeter. Fresh peas are also added to salads or different other vegetables and cooked in a combination like the popular dishes namely mattar paneer, aloo mattar. The fresh peas are also added to keema to make a nice and flavorful dish called the keema mattar. Green peas with chicken, diced onions and almonds make a delicious and colorful chicken salad.
Green peas have enormous nutrients and provide very good amounts of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and protein. Green peas are a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, dietary fiber, folate and thiamin (vitamin B1). They are also a good source of vitamin A, phosphorus, vitamin B6, protein, niacin, magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), copper, iron, zinc and potassium.
Green peas are one of the important foods to include in your diet if you oftentimes feel fatigued and sluggish. That is because they provide nutrients that help support the energy-producing cells and systems of the body.
The nutritional values per 100 g of raw green peas are:
Energy: 339 kJ (81 kcal)
Carbohydrates: 14.5 g
Sugars: 5.7 g
Dietary Fibre: 5.1 g
Fat: 0.4 g
Protein: 5.4 g