I ended up with some free Okra seeds this spring and thought I would try them, not thinking at all about eating them, but just to enjoy the beauty of the plants. Now they are 6 feet tall and producing tons of okra pods every few days so I am trying to use them in cooking. I did some research about Okra – it’s nutritional benefits, and how to prepare it, and I think that I found another one of those superfoods, like blueberries!
According to the blog Healthy, Happy, Life: http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2009/04/okra-nutrition-facts-surprise-its-super.html, they rave about Okra’s benefits:
“ Though okra was voted most hated veggie, it can actually be quite tasty and nutritious! So I’m here to convert the haters to lovers!Okra is actually incredibly healthy despite its unappealing reputation. Okra is low in calories. One cup of raw okra only has around 30 calories. And in that low-calorie cup is a whopping 66% RDA of Vitamin K! Okra is also high is calcium, fiber, vitamin C, protein, folate, manganese and magnesium. Why munch not-nutrient-dense celery or iceberg lettuce for a low-calorie veggie when you can munch the much-more-nutrient-dense super food veggie okra!”
Here is the complete nutrition information about Okra which completely blew me away!
serving size: 1 cup raw, chopped
(about 6 spears)
fat: 0 g
carbs: 7 g
protein: 2 g
fiber: 3 g
Vitamin K: 66% RDA
Vitamin C: 35% RDA
folate: 22% RDA
thiamin: 13% RDA
manganese: 50% RDA
magnesium: 14% RDA
Okra – beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
Low in calories and an amazing source per calorie of Vitamin K, fiber and Manganese. Okra is a stellar veggie that you have to learn to love!
The seeds are large and easy to sow after danger of frost is over, here about May 10, covering with about 1 inch of soil. I thinned the seedlings to stand about 18 inches apart and then forgot about them. Next thing I knew the plants were 3 feet tall with beautiful leaves that look like marijuana plants!
The flowers, since they are related to hibiscus, are beautiful also with a soft yellow cast and a reddish center. They bloom for one day only, and then form a pod which should be picked within a few days, before it gets too long and tough. I picked the pods from 1 inch to 4 inches long for eating, and the larger ones for drying for dried flower arrangements. There is also a purplish reddish okra pod.
Reading about other people experiences with growing Okra, it sounds like the plants can tower up to 9 or 10 feet tall! I believe it, as mine are going strong and are almost 6 feet high now. Being a Southern plant, Okra thrives in hot weather which we have had plenty of this summer.
I like to slice the pods up crosswise about 1/3 of an inch thick and saute them in olive oil with tomatoes and onions. Okra pods are a natural thickener and with watery tomatoes, they thicken the tomatoes up nicely. I love tamale pie and here is my take on it using okra:
Tamale Okra Casserole
1 onion, chopped
a clump of fresh thyme
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 okra pods, sliced
1 large chicken breast, chopped into 1 inch chunks
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Saute chopped onion, 4 or 5 strands of fresh thyme, 7 or 8 chopped up okra pods, a chopped large red pepper, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a chicken breast chopped up into 1 inch chunks. After these cook up and leave a brown crust on the saute pan, drop in large chopped tomatoes with seasonings of chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes until nice and thick. Remove any stems of thyme. Place mixture into a casserole dish and top with Polenta below, and cook for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Pull out of oven and spread 2 cups of shredded cheddar on top and bake an additional 5 minutes.
Top with sour cream and green onions if desired.
1 cup of water set to boil in a large heavy saucepan
Whisk together 1 1/2 cup of cold water and 1 1/2 cup of corn meal until smooth. Whisk into the boiling water in saucepan until smooth and thick. Spread on top of casserole.
I like to fry okra in cornmeal like they do in the south. Gumbo is next on my list to try, and I will attempt freezing some. I love to grill and will grill some because everything tastes better grilled!
If the okra pods get too large, you end up with monsters that can be quite tough and stringy. I like to dry these large pods by placing the okra on a cookie sheet lined with a paper towel and place in the sun outdoors for a couple of weeks. The pods dry with prominent ribs and stripes and are wonderful to use in dry pod arrangements.
- Indian Stuffed Okra (dietiscorrect.wordpress.com)
- Okra from the East and West (williams-sonoma.com)
- Okra Health Benefits (naturalhealthezine.com)
- Recipe and Cooking Techniques: Sauteed Tomatoes, Sausages, and Okra (beculturallyexposed.wordpress.com)
- This Week in the Garden: Okra (susanalbert.typepad.com)
- Monday Grill | My Favorite Okra (persephoneskitchen.com)
- Sourthern Foods (alvindavis99.wordpress.com)
- A Delicious Summer Breakfast Featuring Okra. (brooklynguyloveswine.blogspot.com)
- THE Health Benefits Okra (notecook.com)
- Bamia Soup – Okra Soup (vegease.wordpress.com)