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Snap peas are amazingly versatile and brimming with vibrant taste. They are delicious raw or cooked, alone or alongside other foods. Unlike many legumes, snap peas have edible pods and do not require shelling. They do not need to be soaked, either -- they are ready for a quick snack or addition to salads, soups, or stir-fry dishes. Snap peas pack plenty of nutrition in each vividly hued, crunchy pod. Loaded with soluble fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, the legumes help enhance immunity, vision, and heart health, and reduce inflammation. Adding the benefits of these vegetables to your diet is truly a snap.

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1. About the Snap Pea

The snap pea (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon) is one of the few members of the bean family with an edible pod. It is a cross between the snow pea and the English pea, cultivated in the early 1600s by Dutch and English farmers. The snap pea fell in popularity until 1979, when Dr. Calvin Lamborn introduced a new variety – the sugar snap pea. Dr. Lamborn also produced the Sugar Bon, AAS Sugar Ann, Sugar Rae, and Sugar Mel, as well the purple Royal Snap Pea and golden Honey Snap Pea. Mature snap peas have round, green seeds within the pods, distinguishing this legume from the snow pea which retains a flat shape as it ripens. Although some pods have a tough string many remove before eating or cooking, varieties such as the Cascadia are almost stringless.

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