Black-eyed peas
How to choose: Also called cowpeas, these legumes are traditionally eaten in the South for good fortune in the new year. Each pea sports a black "eye" at the inner curve. Available canned and dried; when bought fresh during the summer months, about 13/4 pounds of pods yield 2 cups shelled.
Preparation tips: Cover with water and simmer with onions, celery, and your favorite herbs until tender; traditional recipes add ham as well. Stir cooked peas into cornbread batter, or toss with diced sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and balsamic dressing. For a simple snack, toast fresh or cooked peas in olive oil and dust with seasoned salt.
Health benefits: Loaded with protein and fiber, these lucky legumes also supply calcium, folate, and vitamin A.

Black-eyed Pea Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing
(Serves 8)

3 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or two 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Creamy Basil Dressing
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, firmly packed

1. In a medium serving bowl, combine black-eyed peas, onion, celery, bell pepper, and salt.

2. For dressing, combine garlic and Dijon mustard in a blender or food processor. Add rice vinegar and pulse to blend. Add oils and blend again. Add basil and purée until smooth. Drizzle over bean mixture and toss.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 156 calories
% fat calories: 41
Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 5g
Carbohydrate: 19g
Fiber: 4g
Sodium: 343mg

Recipe provided by James Rouse, ND, the creator of Optimum Wellness and The Fit Kitchen, seen weekly on NBC's KUSA television news.