The Black Eyed Pea at Forest and Central Expressway is a popular lunch spot among folks looking for some home cookin’. Its $5.99 or $6.99 specials are hard to beat, especially with the amount of food you get for the price.

The menu is chicken fried steak and pot roast heavy, but I’ve noticed that Black Eyed Pea has a new marketing campaign promoting its more healthy fare. If you click on the website, you’ll immediately find a photo of raw carrots being chopped, and the statement: "Over a dozen fresh veggies. Who says we only worship chicken fried steak?" The classic vegetable plate costs $6.79, and a la carte, the vegetables — which include cornbread dressing, macaroni and cheese, and red beans and rice — are $1.49 each.

But before anyone seriously watching his weight rushes over to Black Eyed Pea for lunch, you should know that "vegetable" doesn’t mean much on this menu, at least not as far as calories and fat are concerned.

A colleague of mine recently returned from the restaurant feeling fairly good about herself for choosing the vegetable platter and picking the more sensible items, like steamed broccoli — until she looked up the nutrition information.

One side portion of broccoli florets at the Black Eyed Pea includes 280 calories and 27 fat grams. "How much trans fat and butter do you have to use to put 280 calories in broccoli?!?" my agitated coworker exclaimed. To put those numbers into context, a side portion of the broccoli rice casserole is 200 calories and 14 fat grams, and a side portion of mashed potatoes is 150 calories and 8 fat grams.

If you’re counting calories, I’d suggest the glazed carrots (90 calories, 3.5 fat grams), green beans (40, 0), sweet kernel corn (90, 3.5), turnip greens (90, 7) and fried okra (110, 6) — the five "veggie" options with the least amount of calories. Stay far away from the coleslaw, which has even more calories than the French fries, and lay off the fried corn and, of course, macaroni and cheese.

And for goodness sake, if you have to eat broccoli, at least get the broccoli and rice casserole and enjoy it more for less calories.

Here’s the full nutrition list for Black Eyed Pea: Download nutrition.xls


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