Just like Brussels sprouts, lima beans and beets, split peas are a healthy diet staple most of us learned to love only during adulthood. While they're often the star of a hearty soup, split peas are versatile enough to include in a variety of different recipes.
Here's why you should stock up on these peas: A half-cup serving of cooked split peas boasts 116 calories, 0 grams fat, 21 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber and 8 grams of protein. It's also a source of iron (providing 7 percent of your Daily Value), potassium (8 percent DV), magnesium (8 percent DV) and zinc (9 percent DV).
Split peas are part of the pulse family along with various types of beans, chickpeas and lentils. Pulses have a wide range of health benefits including supporting heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and acting as a prebiotic fiber (food for the good bacteria in our guts), according to USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council.
Because pulses are made up of complex carbs, they provide sustained energy without post-meal crashes. And while many people avoid carbs to help manage their weight, split peas are perfectly set up to help support weight-management goals — thanks in part to their combination of protein and fiber.
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They even do good by the environment. Split peas are what's called a nitrogen-fixing crop, per the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. That means they grab nitrogen from the air and turn it into an available nutrient, which, in turn, reduces the need for nitrogen fertilizers. They're also very inexpensive at about $0.10 per serving.
If you're not a split-pea-soup enthusiast, or if you're just looking for more ways to enjoy this loveable pulse, we've pulled together six split pea recipes you haven't tried yet (but should, stat!).
1. Instant Pot Dal
This dish takes only 10 minutes of your time (it goes in the Instant Pot for about 35 minutes total), which makes pulling it together easier than ever.
The biggest standouts in this dish are the iron offerings, providing 23 percent of your daily needs, and the impressive 20 grams of fiber — all for under 375 calories.
Each serving also meets about one-third of your potassium needs for the day. All three of these nutrients — iron, fiber and potassium — are considered under-consumed shortfall nutrients, according to the Dietary Guidelines of Americans.
Get the Instant Pot Dal recipe and nutrition info at Platings + Pairings.
2. Split Pea Hummus
This recipe is similar to regular hummus with tahini and lemon included, but also calls for vegetable broth to help hydrate the dried split peas.
Hummus is great because it acts as a vehicle to get more vegetables in your diet. This is important because we should be eating about two to three cups of vegetables each day and on average, we're only getting about half that, according to the USDA.
Actually, fewer than 10 percent of us eat enough veggies on a daily basis, as reported in a November 2017 analysis from the Centers for Disease Control. This is concerning because seven of the top 10 leading causes of death is from chronic illness, which a diet rich in vegetables (and fruit), can help reduce the risk of.
Get the Split Pea Hummus recipe at Wholefully.
3. One-Ingredient Split Pea Tortillas
OK, other than water and salt, just one ingredient is all it takes to make these healthy, protein- and fiber-rich tortillas. And, they last in the fridge for up to two weeks. Genius!
Regular white flour tortillas have 120 calories, 3 grams fat, 20 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber and 3 grams protein per serving. These one-ingredient split pea tortillas, on the other hand, have just 85 calories, along with 15 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving.
Get the One-Ingredient Split Pea Tortillas recipe and nutrition info at Power Hungry.
4. Crunchy Split Peas
Again, chickpeas are great but changing it up is good for us because eating a variety of healthy foods provides a variety of nutrients.
This recipe calls for split peas, olive oil and spices, making them a healthier alternative to other crunchy, salty snacks like potato chips and puffed snacks. You can also use these as a salad topping as a much healthier alternative to croutons, which are typically made of refined grains.
Get the Crunchy Split Peas recipe at Every Last Bite.
5. Split Pea Potato Salad
Traditional potato salad? Not that healthy or balanced. But this version by dietitian Kelly Jones provides the perfect combo of healthy fats, carbs, fiber and protein.
A serving of traditional, home-made potato salad has around 20 grams of fat, 28 grams of carbs, just 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. This split-pea version, which includes arugula and EVOO, has 4 grams fat, 18 grams fiber and 15 grams of protein per serving — and that's before adding an egg!
Get the Split Pea Potato Salad recipe and nutrition info at Kelly Jones Nutrition.
6. Lemony Yellow Split Pea Side Dish With Garlic and Ginger
Split peas can be yellow or green and this side dish calls for the yellow variety. It's a simple dish combining split peas with lemon, garlic ginger and spices, making it a perfect addition to almost any meal.
The current U.S. recommendations are to eat one to three cups of cooked pulses, like split peas, per week, according to a December 2017 report published in Nutrition Reviews. Incorporating dishes like this is an easy way to help meet those recommendations.
Get the Lemony Yellow Split Pea Side Dish With Garlic and Ginger recipe at Kalyn’s Kitchen.
- MyFoodData: "Split Peas"
- USA Pulses: "Health + Nutrition"
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines of Americans: "Underconsumed Nutrients and Nutrients of Public Health Concern".
- United States Department of Agriculture: "Americans Still Can Meet Fruit and Vegetable Dietary Guidelines for $2.10-$2.60 per Day"
- Centers for Disease Control: "Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption — United States, 2015"
- Centers for Disease Control: "Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables"
- MyFoodData: "Organic White Flour Tortillas"
- MyFoodData: "Potato Salad Home-Prepared"
- Nutrition Reviews: "Enhancing Nutrition with Pulses: Defining a Recommended Serving Size for Adults"