Bring a little luck to the New Year with this healthier version of a favorite holiday dish.

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s day is a cultural tradition meant to bring good fortune in the months to come. It’s interesting to note that black-eyed peas are actually beans. Inexpensive, flavorful and packed with nutrients like iron, magnesium and calcium, black-eyed peas are also high in fiber and protein and low in fat.

In this recipe, reduced-sodium lean ham replaces more traditional smoked meats that are often cooked with the beans and significantly higher in fat. No salt-added chicken broth adds extra flavor while helping to keep the sodium down.

For a vegetarian option, skip the ham and use vegetable broth. If your family likes a little heat, add a healthy pinch of cayenne pepper to the other spices. If not everyone is a fan, skip the cayenne and offer hot sauce when serving for those who would like it.

This simple method of cooking black-eyed peas requires no pre-soaking. Cooking times may vary between slow cookers. Check beans at the six-hour mark. If they are not finished cooking, give them a stir, replace the lid and continue to cook until soft.


  • 1 lb dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 6-8oz reduced sodium ham steak, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Optional: a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 32oz (4 cups) no salt-added chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: Green onions for garnish
  • Brown rice for serving


  1. Pick through the dried beans and remove any debris or beans that are wrinkled or discolored. Add beans and bay leaf to the slow cooker insert.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced ham and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove ham from the pan, leaving the oil behind and add it to the slow cooker.
  3. Return sauté pan to the burner and add onion, garlic, green pepper and celery. Cook vegetables until beginning to soften, about 6-8 minutes, making sure to scrape up any flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you stir.
  4. Add spices to the vegetables and continue to cook for another minute. Add chicken broth and water to the pan and bring the liquid to a simmer. Carefully ladle or pour the simmering liquid over the beans in the slow cooker insert. Stir well, cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve hot over brown rice. If desired, garnish with green onions.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 10
Serving size: about 3/4 cup
Calories 284 Total Fat 3 g
Saturated Fat 0 g Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 6 mg Sodium 160 mg
Potassium 126 mg Total Carbohydrate 45 g
Dietary Fiber 14 g Sugars 2 g
Protein 21 g

See more of the fresh, fun and healthy recipes on our Wellness blog.