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)
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.