A new restaurant usually means seeing familiar foods presented with a new spin, and the newly opened Pappas Delta Blues Smokehouse delivers on that concept. Billed as “A new BBQ experience,” the smokehouse aims to elevate barbecue by using prime meats and updated Southern side dishes.

While diners are raving about their meltingly tender brisket and chicken-fried rib-eye, it’s those side dishes that really bring the new restaurant in Webster to a different level than the typical barbecue spot. One of the side dishes that best exemplifies the fresh take on an old favorite is the poppy seed coleslaw.

Adding poppy seeds to salad isn’t something completely new; poppy seed dressing has covered many a Southern salad, but pairing the tiny black seeds with cabbage adds more than a subtle crunch and contrasting color.

Poppy seeds are a surprisingly rich source of nutrients, even in the small amount usually found in a serving. Just one tablespoon of poppy seeds contains nearly a third of the daily recommended amount of manganese and 13 percent of the daily need for calcium. Poppy seeds are also rich in other minerals, including copper, iron, zinc and potassium. They also contain high levels of alkaloids, making them an effective treatment, when combined with hot tea or warm milk, for insomnia.

Because they are a good source of minerals, dietary fiber and fatty acids, some nutritionists suggest sprinkling a spoonful on hot or cold cereal, or adding a handful to a fruit smoothie before blending. Poppy seeds have often been paired with lemon, in muffins, cakes and other baked goods. They can also be added to pie crusts, noodle dishes and even ice cream. Adding poppy seeds to the crust of a basic lemon bar brings the classic lemon-poppy seed pairing and extra crunch to a popular dessert.

In Indian cooking, both white and black poppy seeds are used, either whole or ground, in combination with vegetables and fish. Both kinds of poppy seeds can be purchased at local groceries with large South Asian sections, such as the Bay Colony HEB in League City and Ocean Liquor Store on University Boulevard in Galveston.

Poppy seeds are the victim of one of the most common urban legends. The idea that someone could fail a drug test because they’d eaten a bagel or muffin with poppy seeds is prevalent, but not really likely.

While poppy seeds do come from the same plant as opium and morphine, any opium extract that might be on the seeds is removed during processing. The methods of cleaning and processing poppy seeds varies depending on which country the seeds were grown in and how they were harvested, but typically poppy seeds sold in the United States were grown in the Netherlands and are opium-free. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency advises that, “In most cases, consumption of poppy seeds in foods will not cause a positive doping test,” though the exact amount of poppy seeds it would take to trigger a positive test is undetermined.

Bernice Torregrossa: bernice92@aol.com.

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