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On your New Year’s table this year, try the Southern tradition of black-eyed peas and collard greens braised with pork to bring health and prosperity to your household for the coming year.

Why? Black-eyed peas represent prosperity because they swell when cooked. The green of the collards represents the color of money. Pork symbolizes moving forward in life, because pigs forage for food by rooting forward. If you’re not superstitious, it just tastes good. Comforting. Like a big hug in a bowl.

But this Southern tradition may be based in science. Black-eyed peas and collard greens could, in fact, bring health in the coming year. Black-eyed peas are a great source of soluble fiber, which has many health benefits, including decreasing blood cholesterol levels and stabilizing blood sugars. A diet high in soluble fiber may reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Collard greens – a cruciferous vegetable – also helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and contains powerful anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting nutrients.

May you and your family enjoy this dish – and a bountiful and healthy New Year!

Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens
Place braised collard greens in the bottom of a wide, shallow bowl. Top with black-eyed peas, a little crispy bacon, and serve with a wedge of corn bread. Enjoy, preferably with those you love!

Black-Eyed Peas
Makes about 4 to 5 servings
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped,
preferable locally and
humanely sourced
3- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
2 large stalks celery, finely diced
2 bay leaves
1 tea. smoked paprika
1 tea. red pepper flakes
1 tea. salt
1 cup black-eyed peas, rinsed
5 to 6 cups water, or enough to cover
Freshly ground black pepper

Set a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add chopped bacon and cook slowly, rendering out all the fat, until the bacon pieces are crispy. Remove bacon from pot and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.
Pour out all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat. Reserve remaining fat for another use, if desired.

Increase heat to medium. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, paprika, red pepper flakes and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add black-eyed peas and cover with water. Cook, keeping the beans at a low simmer, about 60-90 minutes, or until the beans are tender but not mushy. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Braised Collard Greens
Makes about 4 to 5 servings
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped,
preferable locally
and humanely sourced
3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large onion, finely diced
2 bay leaves
1 tea. red pepper flakes
1 tea. salt
5 to 6 cups water, or enough to cover
2 large or 4 small bunches collard greens
(about 10 cups raw), washed and thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Vinegar-based hot sauce, if desired

Set a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add chopped bacon and cook slowly, rendering out all the fat, until the bacon pieces are crispy. Remove bacon from pot and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.

Pour out all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat. Reserve remaining fat for another use, if desired. Increase heat to medium. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add onion, bay leaves, red pepper flakes and salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce water to a simmer and add collard greens, a little at a time. They will begin to wilt immediately. Cook, keeping the collard greens at a low simmer, about 60-90 minutes, or until the greens have a silky texture and are tender. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

"Black-eyed peas are a great source of soluble fiber, which has many health benefits, including decreasing blood cholesterol levels and stabilizing blood sugars."