Eating Hoppin’ John with blackeyed peas is a Southern New Year’s tradition to bring good luck and, with the addition of greens, which represent money, prosperity in the new year. Some suggest that the origin of this “good luck” tradition dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops, especially in areas targeted by General Sherman, typically stripped the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock, and destroyed whatever they couldn’t carry away. At that time, Northerners considered “field peas” and field corn suitable only for animal fodder, and didn’t steal or destroy these humble foods.
I enjoy changing it up, but every new year is ushered in with a slightly different version of Hoppin’ John. This year it was a perfectly soft poached egg on a bed of crispy kale and Hoppin’ John popping with vibrant red pepper, sweet corn, and a dash of heat. Posting a Hoppin’ John recipe as my first recipe of 2012 seemed like an excellent idea; not only are blackeyed peas inexpensive, fitting right in with a recession budget and inflated credit card bills from holiday shopping, but they also fit right in with any good intentions you may have to eat healthier in 2012. Did you know that black eyed peas are really beans not peas and beans, whether dried or canned, are packed full of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. (If you’d like more specific information on the health benefits of beans and legumes visit the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.)
Plus, January is an exciting month for NFL football fans, especially if the team you rally behind has made it to the playoffs. We happen to have an avid New England Patriot‘s fan living in our midst and the past few years have seen me skillfully substituting lower fat, more nutritious fare masquerading as the best football food you’ve ever had. Hoppin’ John Nachos have become a signature crowd-pleaser during weekend marathons; universally appealing to pizza-loving sports fans and the more health and body conscious. The Bowl games may be over, but there’s plenty of football to come. If you’d like to slip a bit of good stuff in with the standard football fare without raising any eyebrows, bookmark or print this easy recipe. Munch away with a clear conscious during the NFL playoffs or Super Bowl which, FYI, is on Sunday, February 5th this year.