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2019 Good Luck Recipe

Friday, December 28, 2018

Since we did not send a Tasty Tuesday recipe on Christmas Day, we are using it to replace today's Friday Pearl.

There are some New Year traditions that you just should not ignore. The humble black-eyed pea is often associated with mystical and mythical powers to bring good luck in most of the southern states and African nations.

In this country, these peas often referred to as "cowpeas," were primarily eaten by nutritionally smart, enslaved Africans and poorer whites through the 1900s, long before nutrition science proved them to be almost nutritionally perfect.

They were, and still are, traditionally served with greens to symbolize greenbacks (folding money). It's hard to find a southerner who doesn't still believe they are absolutely necessary to ensure both physical and financial health in the coming New Year.

Black-eyed peas, served over or with rice, grits or polenta, create a complete amino acid protein. As for the greenbacks, we hope this holiday combination of food proves to be successful for all.

Ingredients for four servings

3 cups water

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 cup polenta, grits, or rice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

leaves from 8 ounces kale or collard greens, thinly sliced

1/2 cup homemade or no-salt-added vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (we use canned), but prefer dried ones, time permitting.


Combine the water, salt and 1 teaspoon of the smoked paprika in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil.

Gradually whisk in appropriate amounts of grits, rice or polenta; reduce the heat until rice is done, or until the grits or polenta are gently bubbling. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the grits or polenta have the consistency of creamy oatmeal.

Add the pepper, taste, and add salt if needed. Cover and keep warm.

Pour the oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and garlic; cover and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add the greens, broth, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and a little salt plus pepper to taste. 

Cook just until the greens wilt, then stir in the black-eyed peas; cook until the greens are just tender and the peas are hot, 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Divide the grits, rice or polenta among shallow bowls, then top with the black-eyed pea / greens mixture.

Have a safe and thoughtful New Year. Hopefully, most people will continue to strive to win President Lyndon Johnson's 1964, War on Poverty.

Ellen Troyer, with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff

Pearl:  Poverty guidelines are established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which determine whether an individual is eligible for federal safety net programs. They are updated each year, but based on what appears to be outdated consumer cost of goods formulas. Since 1980, food costs have gone up by 100 percent, housing 250 percent, healthcare 500 percent, and college tuition 1,000 percent.

Given that the 2018 Health and Human Services poverty threshold for a single person is $12,486, $14,507 for a two per household, and $24,339 for a family of four, which we all know is was not nearly enough to put a roof overhead, food on the table, clothes on backs, education, health insurance and transportation.

The Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Center for Children in Poverty data suggests that 41 percent of our nation's children lived "dangerously" close to the poverty line in 2018.