The 411 on Okra

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Profile Overview-

Name(s): Okra, Abelmoschus Esculentus Moench, Lady’s Fingers, Gumbo, Molondrón, Najú, many others*
Fruit or Vegetable: Fruit
Origin(s): Eastern Hemisphere – West Africa
Part(s) Used/Consumed: Inner, edible seed pods
Family Plants: Mallow Family – Cotton, Cocoa, Hibiscus
Nutritional Values: Okra contains vitamins A and C and is a good source of iron and calcium. It also contains starch, fat, ash, thiamine and riboflavin. (See chart provided)

For 1/2 cup sliced, cooked okra For 1 cup raw okra
Calories – 25
Dietary Fiber – 2 grams
Protein – 1.52 grams
Carbohydrates – 5.76 grams
Vitamin A – 460 IU
Vitamin C – 13.04 mg
Folic acid – 36.5 micrograms
Calcium – 50.4 mg
Iron – 0.4 mg
Potassium – 256.6 mg
Magnesium – 46 mg
Calories – 33
Fiber – 3.2g
Total Fat – 0.1g
Protein – 2.0g
Carbohydrate – 7.6g
Vitamin A – 660 IU
Vitamin C – 21mg
Folate – 87.8mcg
Magnesium – 57mg


Fun Fact: During World War II, the shortage of coffee beans gave people the idea to use okraseeds as a substitute for coffee, thereafter, to this day, though not as popular as coffee beans,okra seeds are used as an alternate for coffee beans.



Okra:
Grown in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world, 

 Okra has been most associated 
with being a southern American traditional cuisine. 
However, the origins of this flower-gorized plant is located in the 
Eastern Hemisphere of the globe; specifically in the Western Africa areas.

Said to have been first popularly used in Egypt, during the time of Cleopatra, and later spread 
throughout parts of the world during the Atlantic Slave Trade, this little plant has seen it’s share of the world, 
from Japan and Africa to our home kitchens as a side on our plates.

This star of a fruit has been documented to have the qualities and nutrients used to
 help relieve many bodily function as an aliment. Documented in having 
helped treat health issues from high blood sugar, to kidney stones, ulcers, 
and constipation, and even depression, Okra’s versatility of healing qualities 
make it that more delicious to add to, or continue serving to your palate. 


To help motivate you in taking a try at this tasty fruit, or inspire more ideas to your kitchen cooking revenue, here is a recipe sure to put the O-mazing in Okra!



Also, to find out more about Okra and its history and benefits please reference : 

Okra and Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 celery rib, sliced thin
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded, sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian version, and gluten-free broth for gluten-free version)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound fresh okra
  • 5 plum tomatoes, diced
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

1 Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan or wide, shallow pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the onion, jalapeño and celery for 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two.

2 While the vegetables are sautéing, mix the tomato paste, broth and vinegar until they are combined. Add to the pan with the vegetables and bring to a boil. Add the rosemary and a pinch of salt.

3 As the sauce is boiling, slice the okra on the bias to create diagonal pieces. The reason for diagonal slicing is to expose as much of the interior of the okra as possible. Wait to cut the okra until the last minute because it helps make them less slimy.

4 Heat another pan over high heat for a minute or two. Add the remaining oil and get it almost smoking hot, which should take 1-2 minutes. Add the sliced okra and spread out in a single layer in the pan. Let the okra brown for at least a minute before you move them. The goal is to cook the okra quickly at very high heat without moving it too much. The high heat sears the okra and helps limit the slime factor. Sear the okra for 3-4 minutes, stirring only 2-3 times.

5 As soon as the okra is done, add it to the boiling sauce. Add the diced tomatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, no longer. The tomatoes should still be a bit firm, and you don’t want to cook the okra to the point it starts releasing slime.

6 Turn off the heat, grind black pepper over everything and taste once more for salt. Add if needed.

Serve over steamed rice or with lots of crusty bread.

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish.

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