Stir fried, deep fried, sliced, diced, sautéed, bulking up and flavoring soups and stews of all kinds in so many different cultures and countries – and popping up on menus across the United States
Gather around the gumbo pot and kick up your feet, because Okra’s here to tell his story.
Also known as: Lady’s fingers, Gumbo
Likes: The heat of the South, a big pot of gumbo for an excuse to get people together
Dislikes: Arguments about his origins – South Asia, Ethiopia, or West Africa – what does it matter, when he’s here now?
Hobbies: Pulling a meal together; some people call it slime, but he calls it the glue that makes a true culinary creation
Find him: Stir fried, deep fried, sliced, diced, sautéed, bulking up and flavoring soups and stews of all kinds in so many different cultures and countries – and popping up on menus across the United States
Gather around the gumbo pot and kick up your feet, because Okra’s here to tell his story. It’s a story of ancient lands, sunbathing on the banks of the Nile, traveling to new worlds with traders and slaves, and growing into a sought-after vegetable around the world… but that’s a little grand and epic for Okra. Mostly, he thinks his story is just about a kick-back, sun-lovin’ little guy with some big-time health benefits.
He may have hobnobbed with the pharaohs, but he’s really just your average nutritious veggie. He likes basking in the hot sun of warmer climates and is a staple ingredient in the Southern United States, as well as in places like India, Africa, and the Caribbean. He can make for a tasty addition to stir fries and is now even showing up in kitchens and restaurant menus as a pickled delicacy. His big talent, though, lies in soups and stews. Not only does he add flavor, texture, and nutrition to these, but he also thickens them up, thanks to his natural gooeyness when sliced and diced. Not everyone may appreciate that quality, but he won’t sweat it if you don’t want to join his food party….more leftovers for his fans!
It’s no wonder that Okra, once a forgotten food, is now showing up on restaurant menus in all ways, shapes, and forms. Along with his flavor, here are some health benefits that may help entice you to order Okra next time you see him:
- Vitamin C – You might reach for an extra orange or dose of this vitamin when you’re feeling under the weather, but did you know that vitamin C is also important for healthy skin and may even reduce your risk of sunburn? If you’re spending time in the tropics and warmer regions that Okra loves so much, this is a big plus! In addition, this powerful antioxidant can help scout out and take care of cell-damaging free radicals, which could help prevent everything from heart disease to cancer.
- Folate – This B vitamin is key to manufacturing healthy DNA, and that’s why it’s recommended that women of child-bearing age get plenty of leafy greens and other veggies, like Okra, and take a folic acid supplement to help prevent birth defects. Some research also shows that folate plays a role in how your brain works and could act as something of a mood-booster; no wonder Okra’s such a positive veggie.
- Magnesium – Okra is all for relaxation and a little fun, and his magnesium is a good way to help do just that! Magnesium is important for helping to keep blood pressure and heart beat normal and a must for strong and healthy bones.
- Fiber – What can he say? Okra just wants the best for you. With all of his fiber, he likes to think he plays that extra special role in reducing your risk of heart disease, lowering your cholesterol, regulating your blood sugar, and keeping your weight in check so you can enjoy another serving of spicy gumbo! Sure, he’s just a little veggie, but he likes to do his part.
Are you ready to rediscover Okra? Then, get going! Don’t let that tasty dish go to waste! You can find Okra in the Cajun Okra Stew (440 calories, 15 g fat) at Kent’s Cajun Kitchen in Madison, MS.
If you aren’t convinced he’s the vegetable for you, get some similar health benefits from these Healthy Dining approved dishes:
Strawberry Spinach Salad at D. Brian’s All Natural Deli & Catering
(360 calories, 25 g fat, 85 mg sodium)
Located in Minneapolis, MN
3 Alarm Roll at How Do You Roll?
(430 calories, 19 g fat)
Located in AZ, CA, FL, TX
Breakfast Burrito (1/2 Burrito) at The Green Line Café
(300 calories, 15 g fat, 460 mg sodium)
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Simply Elaia Salad at Bistro Elaia
(270 calories, 17 g fat, 90 mg sodium)
Located in Aurora, CO
Chicken Mango Salad at Maui Tacos
(610 calories, 23 g fat)
Located in CA, DC, HI, ID, MD, MN, NC, NJ, NY, TX, UT
Tofu Scramble at Sabrina’s Café
(750 calories 27 g fat)
Located in Philadelphia, PA