Okra Winfrey. HA! I kill me! Don’t delete! These hairy boogers are super
healthy and I can teach you a way to cook them that actually tastes good!
Wanted you to see a picture of them on the plant and the flower because
they are very interesting from a horticulture perspective. Okra is from the
same plant family (Malvaceae) as cotton, cocoa, and the ornamental
hibiscus. You can see the resemblance to hibiscus with the flower. They are
simple to plant from seed (cheap, too) and can be grown organically with
ease. They are one of the few vegetables able to withstand the mid to late
summer heat of the deep south. Pick the pods when they are small and
tender. No larger than three inches. They get fibrous and tough the larger they get.
I have a new word: mucilaginous. I love it! It is another word for slime. I read it on the Illinois Extension service webpage. They used it to describe the juice that comes out of okra. Gross, I know. This juice is th reason okra has a bad reputation. It is also responsible for some of okra’s health benefits. Okra is full of soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber passes straight through the GI tract cleaning as it goes. Soluble fiber gets into the blood stream and cleans it up, taking out excess cholesterol, hormones, etc.
Vitamin K Galore
A half-cup serving has only 18 calories but it packs in 2g of fiber and 1.5 g of protein! It will also supply 22% DV of Vitamin C, some iron, calcium, and Vitamin A too. It has a glycemic load of 2 which means diabetics can eat all they can hold. It has an amino acid score of 79, which means that almost anything else on the plate will combine with it to make a complete protein. It also has a whopping 40% DV of Vitamin K which is essential in blood clotting and bone mineralization. Overall, the vitamin and mineral profile is very complete and will supply a little of every essential nutrient.
The slimy goo that comes out of okra is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it is what gives Gumbo it’s thick texture and it is where some of okra’s soluble fiber is contained. It is a curse because it turns people off from ever tasting it. Below are two ways to cook okra that are delicious and completely slime-free, the health benefits are still there, the slime is just transformed.
People with the biggest variety in their diets are the healthiest, so why not try this new vegetable while it is in season?
1 lb fresh okra pods
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ teaspoon garlic powder, or whatever spices you like (try garam masala)
salt and pepper
Wash and trim the pods removing the stem end and slicing the larger pods
vertically to insure even cooking.
Toss the pods with the olive oil and spices.
Roast on a sheet pan in a 450 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until crispy on the edges and tender.
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes over Brown Rice
This recipe can be served as a vegan entrée or as a side dish along with pinto beans, lima beans, or lentils. It can be made with fresh or frozen okra. Served over rice it becomes a hardy stoup (stew/soup).
2 T olive oil
½ large onion, diced
1 medium green pepper diced, optional
1 lb fresh okra, sliced or 1 package of frozen sliced okra
1 large can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (with green chilies if you like)
salt and pepper (I use smoked salt)
hot sauce to taste
4 cups cooked brown rice
Sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until translucent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes or until okra is tender.
Matthew 5:6 (NIV) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.