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Our Blog: March 8, 2024

Pass the Peas, Please!

We consume three main types of peas. You might be able to guess which one loves cold weather:  

  1. Garden or Shelling Peas – This type of pea is removed or “shelled” from the pod. It’s what you find at the grocery store frozen or canned. They might also be called English, green, or sweet peas.  
  2. Snow Peas – These flat pea pods are sometimes referred to as “Chinese pea pods” because they are commonly used in stir-fries. The entire pod is edible and quite tasty raw or cooked. They are sweet and crunchy.
  3. Snap Peas – These are a cross between snow peas and garden peas. The whole pod can be eaten raw or cooked and has a crunchy texture and sweet flavor. 

I personally love sugar snap peas and enjoy growing them in my garden during early spring (since they don’t like too much heat). You can also grow snow peas earlier in the season. As their name suggests, they don’t mind chilly temperatures.  

Nutritionally, all peas are not created equal. Snow and snap peas are good sources of vitamins C, E, and zinc. All of which help strengthen the immune system. Garden peas are packed with vitamins A, K, and fiber. Garden peas are starchy legumes with a high protein content making them one of the best plant-based sources of protein. Consuming adequate amounts of protein promotes muscle strength and bone health.  

Early veggie variety is key to raising an adventurous, healthy eater. Through exposure, we now know kids can learn to LOVE vegetables. We hope you will join the Veggies Early & Often initiative at home by being a role model for children through cooking and eating a balanced, plant-forward diet. Try one of these recipes to add more green to your plate: 

  • Garlic Snow Peas with Mushrooms 
  • Parmesan Panko Sugar Snap Peas 
  • Sesame Snow Peas
  • Pasta e Piselli (Pasta and Peas) 

Garlic Snow Peas with Mushrooms 

Serves 4 (Adults) 


3 cups snow peas 
1 Tbsp. butter 
1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced 
2 Tbsp. chicken broth 
2 cloves garlic, minced 


  1. For young assistants: Have your child rinse and pat the snow peas dry. Break off the tips and pull the string out (discard).  
  2. Heat butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add peas, mushrooms, and broth. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the broth evaporates.  
  3. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 additional minute before serving. 

Parmesan Panko Sugar Snap Peas*

Serves 4 (Adults) 

*This recipe was designed to help kids ages 3 and up learn to eat and enjoy a wide variety of vegetables. 


4 cups sugar snap peas 
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil 
⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs 
3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese, grated 
1 tsp. lemon pepper 
1 tsp. onion powder 
¼ tsp. garlic powder 


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Wash and trim the ends of the sugar snap peas. 
  4. For young assistants: Have your child place peas in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated. 
  5. For young assistants: Have them add the breadcrumbs, cheese, lemon pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Toss until peas are lightly coated. 
  6. For young assistants: Have your child spread the peas onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with any loose panko crumbs from the bowl. 
  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until tender and the bread crumbs have browned.  

Sesame Snow Peas 

Serves 2 (Adults) 


1 Tbsp. sesame oil 
½ lb. snow peas 
1 lemon, juiced 
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds 


  1. For young assistants: Have your child rinse and pat the snow peas dry. Break off the tips and pull the string out (discard).  
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the snow peas and turn the heat down a little. Cook while shaking the pan to toss and coat about 1 to 2 minutes.  
  3. Remove from heat and toss with lemon juice. Cover with a lid and let sit for approximately 5 minutes.  
  4. For young assistants: Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve. 

Pasta e Piselli (Pasta and Peas) 

Serves 4 (adults) 


1 Tbsp. olive oil 
1 large shallot, chopped (or substitute a small onion) 
1 lb. frozen peas 
11 oz. ditalini or small pasta 
1 cup grated parmesan cheese 
Fresh basil, handful 
Black pepper, to taste 


  1. Heat olive oil in a large deep pan or Dutch oven. Sauté shallot for 3 to 4 minutes. 
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta for half the time as indicated on the package. Before draining, reserve 4 cups of pasta water. 
  3. Add the peas to the shallot pan along with 1 cup of pasta water. Bring to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  4. Transfer the pasta to the pan with peas and shallots. Gradually add some of the pasta water until the pasta is cooked al dente. (This should take about 5 minutes and you should have some liquid in the pan when done). 
  5. For young assistants: Have your child tear the fresh basil leaves.
  6. Turn the heat off and stir in the cheese and fresh basil. Season to taste with black pepper.  

These recipes are all veggie-forward and approved by the Partnership for a Healthier America to meet the Veggies Early & Often guidelines. Approved 2/12/2024.


About the Author

Nicole Spain, MS, RDN

Childhood nutrition has been Nicole’s passion for more than 20 years. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Master of Science (MS) in Nutrition and Dietetics from Northern Illinois University. During her career with Learning Care Group (LCG), Nicole has assisted with developing and implementing the company’s proprietary Grow Fit program. Through her curated menus, the healthy lifestyle initiative positively impacts approximately 100,000 children daily in LCG’s 1,050+ schools. She aided in the rollout of the Veggies Early & Often campaign in 2021 and helped LCG be recognized as the 2017 Partner of the Year by the Partnership for a Healthier America. Since 2004, she’s also been an active Junior League member and developed the Kids in the Kitchen program for their Detroit and Milwaukee chapters. Nicole and her husband, John, have three children. In her spare time, Nicole competes on a rowing team with the Detroit Boat Club Crew.