New Year’s Black Eyed Peas and Greens Quinoa Bowl

If you’re like most folks, the beginning of the year is the time for setting new goals and making improvements to your life. Whether it’s getting more exercise, eating more healthfully, sleeping more, or reading more books, the objective is always to do something better this time around. 

 

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To start 2016 off right, what better way to ring in the new year than by cooking a healthy, filling dish inspired by the Southern classic of Hoppin’ John? This “lucky” dish of black-eyed peas, onion, ham or bacon, greens, and rice is also thought to bring wealth and prosperity due to the peas (symbolizing coins, or money) and greens (the color of American dollar bills), as well as the cornbread (gold) that is often served alongside. Aside from all the symbolism, this economical meal with West African roots is loaded with flavor and will keep you satiated for hours.

Healthy and Tasty

Black-eyed peas are easily recognizable due to the black spot, or “eye” that appears on the legume’s otherwise light-colored skin. Like many beans, it’s a great source of protein, fiber (a 1/2 cup serving provides 20% of the daily recommended amount), potassium (which helps with keep blood pressure levels balanced), folate, iron and other vitamins and minerals.

quinoa

Rather than throwing in an entire ham hock into the dish, the following senior friendly recipe uses a small amount of diced ham steak instead for flavor, ease of preparation, and texture. The traditional form of this dish is fairly healthy as-is, but this modern update adds more nutritional value by serving the bean mixture on top of a bed of cooked quinoa instead of incorporating it into white rice.  

Why quinoa, instead of, say, brown rice? Quinoa cooks quickly and is a complete protein containing the nine essential amino acids. Additionally, is also a good source of fiber, Vitamin E and magnesium, and is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Despite its “super grain” status, quinoa is actually a seed (not a grain) in the same family as chard, spinach and beets.

Whether or not this dish actually gives you luck is up to debate, but its health benefits are pretty indisputable. Try it: you might just find that you’ll want to eat it other times of the year as well.

No time? That’s fine!

If you don’t have time to cook dried black-eyed peas, two (15-ounce) cans of drained, rinsed beans can be substituted. Simply reduce the amount of chicken stock to 2 cups and cook the beans for about 20 minutes instead.

Ingredients

green onions

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 small green bell pepper, diced

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

1 cup dried black eyed peas, rinsed

6 oz. diced ham steak (about 1 cup)

1 quart reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a colander

1 1/2 cups water

1 bunch collard greens, ribs removed, leaves cut into 1/2-inch-wide ribbons

Cooking Instructions

onion and celery sautee

1. In a large saucepan, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, 1/2 tsp. of the salt and the black pepper. Cover and cook until softened but not browned, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the garlic and bay leaf and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the black eyed peas, ham and chicken broth and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the beans are tender, 45 to 50 minutes.

4. When the beans have cooked for 30 minutes, place the quinoa, water and the remaining 1/4 tsp. of the salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered until ready to serve.

5. When the beans are tender, increase the heat to medium, stir in the greens and cook until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes.

6. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, divide among 4 bowls and spoon the black eyed peas and greens on top.

Serves 4.

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