Peas are such a lovely, flexible legume, and, like other legumes, they’re packed with protein. If you’re new to plant-based eating and are concerned about protein intake (as many are), fear not! Plants are dense with macro and micro nutrients to keep the your body fueled and fit. As always, I like to keep my intros short so we can get right into the topic of peas as a plant protein.
First, let’s compare peas to some animal-derived proteins.
|Food (Per 100g)||Protein||Calories||Iron||Dietary Fiber||Vitamin C|
I’m going to stop right there to save you the reading and me the writing and give you a spoiler here: Meat is very low in vitamins. I hope you’ve figured out where I’m going with this. If not, I’ll lay it out.
Peas lose the protein game, as most plant foods do when compared to animal meats, but here’s why plants win every time: nutrient density per calorie.
Looking at the chart, you can see that peas have about 1/3 the calories of most other meats, so let’s triple the amount of peas you ate in a serving (100g of peas is less than 1 cup). In this serving of peas, unseasoned and simpy prepared, you have 15g of protein, 243 calories, a very reasonable amount of iron, loads of vitamins, and a good dose of dietary fiber.
If you ate 100g of chicken, the same amount of calories, you’d be eating overall less food than if you ate peas, meaning you will be less full. You got 10g more protein than the peas, but you also got no fiber, almost no vitamins, and some saturated fat. So, you got calories, fat (not the ideal kind), protein, and a bit of iron. I don’t like to withold information to make my point sound better, so it should be noted that meats do contain vitamins from the B-complex, but these are also obtainable from more nutrient-dense plant sources, which I will cover more in a future post.
To put it simply, you get more bang for your buck in nutrients when you choose peas over animal-derived proteins. More good nutrients, less bad fat, and you feel fuller.
What to do with peas
You don’t have to eat a big bowl of hot, plain peas to get your protein fix. Peas are, like many veggies, very flexible when it comes to preparations. They also have a relatively neutral flavor, giving you the chance to season as you wish. Here’s a nice, neat list of ways you can use peas in cooking and meal prep.
- Hot, with plant-based butter, salt, and seasoning
- Blended with pesto sauce for a pesto pasta
- Mushed and blended for a soup
- Mushed and blended for a puree garnish
- Added to soups, stews, curries, savory pies and pasties
- Cold, as a salad topping
- Dried and seasoned for a healthy snack
- Added to fried rice and stir fries
I love cooking with peas, so keep an eye our for future recipes from me that feature peas.
Where and how to buy peas
Another fantastic fact about the flexibility of peas is the many ways you can buy them. Fresh peas are amazing, but if you can’t find any at your local grocery store or farmer’s market, frozen work wonderfully as well. If you’re in need of non-perishable proteins, they also come in cans (great for camping). They’re so easy to store and keep fresh with the non-perishable options that I recommend keeping peas in the house at all times, whether in a can or in the freezer.
Lastly, another great benefit of peas over animal proteins is price. When compared to the meats on our list, peas are likely to please penny pinchers.
Here’s what I’m hoping you’ve learned today:
- Peas are more nutrient-dense than animal proteins
- Peas are flexible in preparation and neutral in flavor
- Peas are cheap and easy to find
These are some pretty great benefits, I think, and I hope you agree. If you don’t like peas, I’ll have more posts in the future analyzing other plant protein options. In the mean time, keep an open mind and maybe give some pleasing pea recipes a try.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week!