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Wilburn: New year brings old food traditions
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Did you follow a family tradition when it came to selecting foods for your New Year’s celebration? My mother, grandmother and her mother before her always served (of course, made from "scratch") black-eyed peas, collards, roasted pork and corn bread. This was considered a lucky meal in our home and pretty well all over the South.

The black-eyed peas helped to ensure that you would have coins in your pocket and the collards represented "green backs" or dollar bills in your wallet. And what is a truly Southern meal without crunchy, hot from the iron skillet cornbread (I must confess that I don’t add cracklins as my Mom once did).

I didn’t want to take any chances with our finances so of course my husband and I had the same delicious and nutritious meal that our family has shared for generations. After checking out the nutrition information at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Standard Nutrient Database ( I’ve decided this would be a great meal year round.

Did you know that black-eyed peas (listed as "cowpeas" in the database) have about 100 calories per half-cup, and offer 6.5 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of fiber if you cook the dried peas yourself, or about 5.5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber if you use a canned version. You can buy an entire pound of black-eyed peas for less than 79 cents. That is a lot of protein and fiber for very little money. I love foods that I can cook and eat for several days and then have some to put in the freezer for later meals.

Of course, collard greens would be a good choice to add to almost any meal. A half-cup of boiled, drained collards have just 25 calories but also offer 2 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber and 130 milligrams of calcium. They’re also chock-full of phytonutrients that your body will thank you for.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Standard Nutrient Database, 3 ounces of lean center loin pork roast has about 170 calories and less than 8 grams of fat.

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension Service. Contact: 770-535-8290.