Okra also called ladies fingers is an interesting vegetable. Growing up my Mom made okra quiet a lot, but I wasn’t always a big fan of this vegetable mainly because I didn’t like the texture of okra. It’s slimy when cut and that’s what turns many people off. But my Mom very often made an okra stir-fry in a well-seasoned old wok that got rid of the sliminess, and to get us kids to eat this very unusual vegetable she would tell us okra is good for the brain, that it makes us smarter, so we ate it slimy or not.
Okra provides about 22% of RDA per 100g of okra (which is about 3/4 cup of okra). RDA is short for Recommended Dietary Allowances that the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences puts out every few years. There is an RDA value attached to each food item. Think about it, 3/4 cup of okra has 22% of a person’s daily-recommended allowance of nutrients – that is pretty high! The many health benefits of okra
In addition to such a high RDA, okra is a rich source of dietary fiber; it has Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. Okra is also one of the vegetables with the highest levels of flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, and lutein. These flavonoid anti-oxidants help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Okra has also shown to be effective in controlling blood sugar, and new research is being conducted on the many ways okra can be used to help people with diabetes. Benefits of okra for diabetes
Fresh okra has high levels of folates otherwise known as folic acid, which research has shown that for women who eat foods rich in folates such as okra as part of their regular diet, decrease the risk of neural tube defects in their babies. Neural tube defects are defects of the brain and spine. I imagine for young children, eating okra can only help with a healthy brain.
I have figured out a way now to cook okra the way my Mom used to make it, but without all the time-consuming sautéing on the stove to remove the slimy texture. I roast the okra in the oven first and then sauté it on the stove with some spices and it comes out perfect every time. Here is the recipe.
Roasted Pan Sautéed Okra
In this recipe I have used 12 cups of chopped okra as it does condense down.
This will be enough for 5-6 servings.
- 12 cups chopped okra
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp asafoetida powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika or chili powder if you want but not needed
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place cut okra in a mixing bowl and toss with 2 tbsp oil. Spread okra on a baking sheet. Bake okra for 45 minutes, tossing around at every fifteen-minute mark. After 45 minutes, set oven on broil and broil okra for 3-5 minutes. Take out of oven and set aside.
In a pan heat 1 tbsp oil. Add mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Then add cumin seeds and asafetida powder and let the aroma release (just a 2-3 seconds, do not burn the spices). Add onions and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add turmeric powder, chili powder, roasted okra, and salt and cook through for 5 minutes to allow the spices to get incorporated into the vegetables. Okra curry is ready. Top with cilantro and serve.
Cook’s Notes: Serve okra curry with some dhal (spiced lentil soup) and quinoa, or with chapatis. It’s delicious even as a side dish. The way my family likes okra is with chapatis and a side of raita (Indian yogurt side dish). I will post an easy recipe for raita next. Once you have okra like this, you will get hooked on this immensely healthy vegetable.
For more information on the health benefits of okra check out these articles that I referenced. Okra nutrition facts and tips Benefits of okra for diabetes 22 Okra the Wonder Vegetable the many health benefits of okra
If you don’t already, try and add okra to your diet, it’s good for you any way you look at it.