Black-eyed peas are thought to bring good luck if eaten at the beginning of a new year, and are traditionally eaten on the first day of January. So any dish using the small ivory-colored bean with the black eye is a good choice for New Year's Day.

This tradition is particularly popular in the South where the heat-dependent beans are grown. Native to Asia, these legumes probably got to the U.S. via the African slave trade.

Black-eyed peas also called cowpeas are available fresh or dried. While they were originally grown for animal feed, they are now popular in salads, soups, casseroles and stews.

Cooked with rice and ham hocks, black-eyed peas become Hoppin' John, a traditional Southern New Year's dish.

Black-eyed peas definitely bring good luck to the body. They are low in fat and sodium, and high in potassium, iron and fiber.

Beans and peas of all kinds are an important part of a healthful diet. They can be a good alternative to meat in a variety of dishes. And their dietary fiber is largely soluble fiber, meaning that it is especially useful in helping control cholesterol levels.

Legumes also are filling and therefore a good way to control weight by satisfying hunger.

Dried beans are a good pantry staple since they provide so much nutrition with so little effort. If you don't have time to soak the beans, have a few cans around as well. They only need to be rinsed and drained.

More from our magazine:  Beef vs. Beans: Which Provides Greater Fullness?

Black-eyed peas with chicken and mushrooms is a good, healthful dish to start any new year.

Good Luck Chicken Fricassee

Makes 8 servings.


Content Continues Below ⤵

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 10 oz. crimini mushrooms, cut into 1/2- inch slices
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 1/2 lb. skinless boneless chicken breast
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 1/2 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lb. spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, or to taste


  1. Pick over peas, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Bring water to a boil and boil peas 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Soak peas 1 hour and drain.
  2. In a heavy kettle, heat 1 tablespoon oil over moderate heat until hot Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are tender and liquid evaporates. Transfer mixture to a bowl.
  3. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in kettle and cook chicken, stirring, until browned. Sprinkle flour over chicken, stirring, to coat. Add broth and bring to boil. Stir in peas and mushroom mixture. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until peas are tender.
  4. While mixture is cooking, cut spinach leaves into thin strips.
  5. When peas in simmering mixture are tender, stir spinach into the chicken mixture. Gradually blend in mustard to taste. Simmer gently, stirring, 2 minutes,or just until spinach is tender. (Be careful to not overcook.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
232 calories
5 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat)
19 g. carbohydrate
28 g. protein
6 g. dietary fiber
286 mg. sodium