Move Over Kale: The Next Super Food is Okra!!

I grew up in the Post WWII 50's and 60's and dinner vegetables were 99% of the frozen persuasion. My mom was a really talented cook but , like many of her peers, her creativity focused on the dinner entrée. Most of you younger cooks grew up in a time when fresh vegetables were the norm, and a large variety was available, even in more rural areas.

Today, veggies are in the spotlight, which is terrific. Yes, I complained plenty when kale became the "It" food; but I have to say that I really have come to enjoy it a lot. And it turns out that okra, my new love, is a nutritional winner like kale. I did not discover okra til recently, so I want to make sure to do okra shout -outs so others learn about it sooner than I did!

There are many things I love about okra. First is the flavor (somewhat like green beans or zucchini (but more flavorful ) and texture (like green beans.) Second is that I can't think of a faster/easier -to-prepare green vegetable. Aside from rinsing it, you don't need to do anything more; no de-stemming, picking, slicing, peeling, seeding, de-stringing. You can eat the pods whole, their 'caps' included. Just choose smaller pods. It seems to be available year round but here in New England it is not found in all stores. I usually see it in the $3-4 lb. range, but I bet it's a lot cheaper in the South. And, given that there is no waste (you eat it all) in actuality it is not so expensive. When I braise it , it is ready in 10-15 minutes. Its only negative is that, when sliced or chopped, the pod insides can sometimes be mucilaginous (gooey). That doesn't bother my family, but I don't usually cut it anyway, because I love it whole.

Here is my fav fast prep, Okra Adobo, in a braise of only 5 (common) ingredients: soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, peppercorns, garlic. I often have some leftover Adobo sauce in the frig or freezer (it gets better the more it is recycled) but it is very speedy to make fresh too.

I have also poured a jar of salsa over it as a braising sauce, and added it to Jambalaya and many kinds of stew. No need to steam or saute- just toss it in as-is. Its flavor is mild enough that it seems to go with all kinds of cuisine, and it really adds a neat texture and nutritional bonus.

Nutrition OKRA from
serving size: 1 cup raw, chopped
(about 6-8 spears)
calories: 31
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 got to learn to love.

LeBec Fin


Susan W. February 11, 2015
Hmm..super food it isn't, but I shy away from all super food labels. I just like real foods. Not sire about your recipes.
QueenSashy February 10, 2015
I’ve spent countless hours researching the subject of mucilage elimination and creative uses for okra. I found several articles explaining how subjecting okra pods to heat only increases the amount of slime coming out. “Do not cook okra to death,” they say; I found that quick cooking treatments, such as flash frying, do help a lot in reducing the gooey stuff…. Try Cornmeal Crusted Smashed Fried Okra -- the southern classic -- it is really really good. And no unpleasant things coming out.
Panfusine February 10, 2015
I was permanently put off okra when I was about 3 years old, thanks to a bunch of older cousins who compared the mucilage to..., (my grandmother never forgave them for that till the very end) nothing, absolutely NOTHING has changed my mind since then, not even the promise of a smarter brain, or better quality synovial fluid, or the magical ability to do math..
Kristen W. February 10, 2015
Cav, you forgot that if it's going to compete with kale it'll need a massage every once in a while too.

Voted the Best Reply!

Cav February 9, 2015
In order for Okra to become the next superfood, it needs to be turned into smoothies, muffins, juices, chips, soups, pesto and brownies. It needs to be roasted braised, baked, grilled, steamed, sauteed, deep fried and mashed. It needs histrionic headlines and little applied science. It must cure and provide and cuddle. But most of all it needs to stop being slimy.
LeBec F. February 9, 2015
Ha, you're funny (but you forgot- cupcakes!)
As to your caveat, no worries, cav; just make the linked recipe;and remember to leave the okra whole.
Jan W. February 9, 2015
I love how the next 'superfood' is always something that is commonly eaten in a lot of places except the Northeast USA/Western Europe and their transplant communities. For people from the Southeastern USA, okra is ubiquitous. Same goes for most of the Caribbean, West Africa, the Middle East & South Asia, and elsewhere.

Why don't we just call so-called 'superfoods' simply another nutritious food for mainstream Western society to try.
LeBec F. February 9, 2015
jan, i was not meaning for this post to be taken in a Global context. And my title was worded with a particular situation in mind that perhaps does not apply to your area. In the NE USA Kale got 'discovered' in the last decade, such that it is EVERYWHERE now (on every bistro menu; in farmers markets, food products, snack foods, prepared foods, on food websites, in written media, etc etc. )It did not used to be that way. All this is actually a good thing, because it is very good for us. But like many trends, people do move on to new discoveries, so, when I found out how nutritious is okra, I titled my post w/ a little tongue in cheek, incorporating the media catch words that surround me.

I wanted to share a particular recipe/fast prep but so far, on my similar Chowhound thread, people are responding with their fv ways to cook it, and no one has said a word about my adobo recipe! Needless to say, I am looking forward to learning about recipes from other countries.

And btw, it may be 'ubiquitous' in the South, but the only Southern ways of preparing it that I have heard about are : coated and fried; pickled; or in a tomato based braise/stew. I would love to learn other ways from you.
As for International cuisines, here in restaurants and prepared foods in markets,I have only seen it in Indian cooking.Can't figure out why.
Jan W. February 9, 2015
I totally get your point, didn't mean to come across as adversarial - I just think the term 'superfood' is misleading and at the most extreme, obscures the fact that a wide range of produce is available now in the USA that allows for a fantastically diverse diet, and that much of them are equivalently nutritious and allow a myriad of preparations.

By the way - I had some fantastic okra at Tomato Shed Café on John's Island, SC in September, was simply brushed with olive oil and grilled, with a little salt & black pepper. I ordered another portion.
sfmiller February 10, 2015
"Why don't we just call so-called 'superfoods' simply another nutritious food for mainstream Western society to try."

Why not, indeed? Even better, why don't we do away with the view that particular foods are either medicine or poison, and return to thinking about nutrition in terms of an entire diet composed of a variety of foods, which may be more or less nutritious individually?

I get so tired of hearing about this year's Superfood and the Dietary Next Big Thing. Although I've got to hand it to the American Kale Board, or whoever was responsible for the Kale Boom. Hell of a marketing job!

Excuse the rant, but this is a pet peeve.

And for the record, I LIKE kale. And okra. ;)
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