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.
Are You Getting Enough Protein?
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
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 from Platings + Pairings.
2. Split Pea Hummus
Move over chickpeas — split peas are the star of this hummus (which, of course, contains tahini, too). "Tahini is rich in phosphorus and manganese, which are critical in maintaining healthy bones," Amanda Nicole, RDN, says. "Tahini is also high in antioxidants called lignans that can protect our body from oxidative stress."
Get the Split Pea Hummus recipe and nutrition info from Yum Vegan Food.
3. 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. The current U.S. recommendations are to eat 1 to 3 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 and nutrition info from Kalyn’s Kitchen.
4. Split Pea Soup With Ham
If you find traditional split pea soup to be bland or boring, try this recipe filled with salty ham. If you're using traditional chicken stock be aware of excess sodium, so it's best to choose an unsalted or low-sodium variety, Nicole says. "Excess sodium can retain water in our body, raising blood pressure and making our heart work harder."
Get the Split Pea Soup With Ham recipe and nutrition info from Lexi's Clean Kitchen.
5. Summer Split Pea Salad
This easy-to-make summer salad comes together in just minutes and makes for a great side dish for an outdoor cookout or picnic. "Combining vitamin C-rich foods like tomatoes with split peas increases the body's ability to absorb nonheme iron in split peas," Nicole says. And if you're looking to make this a well-balanced meal, consider adding brown rice.
Get the Summer Split Pea Salad recipe and nutrition info from Wholefully.
6. Roasted Potato and Split Pea Salad With Miso Vinaigrette
This medley of split peas, potatoes, carrots, onions and herbs topped with a tangy miso vinaigrette makes for the perfect side to any lean protein. "The fermenting process to make miso contains many probiotics," Nicole says. "Probiotics are live bacteria that support the immune system and gut lining against harmful bacteria."
Get the Roasted Potato and Split Pea Salad With Miso Vinaigrette recipe and nutrition info from Golubka Kitchen.
7. Split Pea Tortilla Soup
This recipe is far from traditional but has all the flavors you'd expect from a tortilla soup. If you're looking to enjoy this dish on a vegetarian or vegan diet, Nicole suggests omitting the beef and swapping the cheese for nutritional yeast. "Nutritional yeast is high in B vitamins and protein and has a delicious cheesy flavor," she says.
Get the Split Pea Tortilla Soup recipe and nutrition info from Like Mother Like Daughter.
8. Easy Vegan Split Pea Curry
Curries are a great way to use up pantry staples like split peas and antioxidant-rich spices like chili peppers, turmeric, coriander and cumin. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. "And cumin has antioxidant compounds called apigenin and luteolin that may reduce the appearance of aging skin," Nicole says.
Get the Easy Vegan Split Pea Curry recipe and nutrition info from Wholefully.
9. Crunchy Split Peas
This recipe calls for split peas, olive oil and spices, making them a healthier alternative to other crunchy, salty snacks like potato chips and pretzels. 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 and nutrition info from Every Last Bite.
10. One-Ingredient Split Pea Tortillas
Regular white flour tortillas have 120 calories, 3 grams of fat, 20 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein per serving. These one-ingredient split pea tortillas, on the other hand, have just 85 calories, along with 15 grams of carbs, 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving.
Get the One-Ingredient Split Pea Tortillas recipe and nutrition info from Power Hungry.
11. Rosemary Split Pea Potato Salad
This version of potato salad 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 Rosemary Split Pea Potato Salad recipe and nutrition info from Kelly Jones Nutrition.
- 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"