Featured Food – Okra

Brad had an awesome idea this weekend and suggested that I should feature specific foods each week and discuss their use and their nutritional content. I loved the idea!

I know that some people like to follow recipes step by step, but I like to be inspired by other’s use of ingredients to create my own recipes.  By learning more about specific foods, how they’re used in creating meals, and what value they add to your overall nutrition, I hope you’re inspired to try using some of my Featured Food in your cooking and perhaps, even in your own recipes.

There’s really no rules about what I’ll feature here.  It might be a spice, a fruit, a vegetable, a grain, etc.  However, it will be a whole food. If you are particularly interested in learning about a particular ingredient and how to use it, I’ll definitely consider featuring it if you suggest it.

I thought a lot about what I wanted my first featured food to be and finally decided that I couldn’t let summer pass you by without insisting that you try okra.

(source)

Okra is a member of the mallow family, which contains flowering plants such as cacao and cotton.  The plant originated in Africa and was brought to the US by African slaves.  There is a lot of overlap between “southern” food and “soul” food.  Okra is a good example of that.

Here’s the basic nutritional breakdown of okra.

Serving size – 1 cup (110 g)
Calories – 31
Fat – 0 g
Saturated Fat – 0 g
Chosterol – 0 mg
Sodium – 8 g
Total Carbohydrate – 7 g
Dietary Fiber – 3 g
Sugar – 1 g
Proteins 2 g

Most importantly, okra packs in a lot of nutritional value into a few small pods.  Here are a few important vitamins and minerals you will find in okra.

  • Vitamin C (35%): Necessary to make proteins that do everything from heal wounds to reproducing skin and keeping bones strong
  • Vitamin K (66%) – Makes protein for bones and also for blood clotting
  • Folate (22%) – Aids in making new cells and is extremely important for pregnant mothers because it can prevent birth defects
  • Manganese (50%) – Strengthens bones, keeps blood healthy, and may lessen the symptoms of PMS

All percentages reflect the amount of vitamins and minerals found in okra as a percent of what you need and are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Cooking with Okra:

Roasted Okra
I never do anything with okra but roast it.  Maybe I’m just boring, but I know what I like and I know I love roasted okra.

Other traditional methods of cooking okra:
Pickled Okra a la Alton Brown
Fried Okra a la Paula Deen

…or use okra as an ingredient in a lot of tasty recipes.  Here are a few I’m dying to try before okra season has come and gone.

Spiced Okra with Yellow Peppers and Onions  from Monica’s Spice Diary
Braised Okra from Souvlaki from the Soul
Curried Okra with Chickpeas from eCurry
Easy Baked Okra Fries from Pure2Raw

Do you have a great okra recipe?  

Are there any particular foods or ingredients that want to see here in Featured Food? 

24 Responses to Featured Food – Okra

  1. Okra’s one of those foods that I’ve heard a lot about but never actually eaten. I guess being from New England it’s just not very common around here.

    But I’m all for trying new things, so I think I’m going to try out your roasted okra recipe this weekend!

  2. I love the featured food concept! I’ve never cooked with okra, but I will have to roast some next time I’m home with a kitchen (dorm life sucks…).

    It’d be cool to see a post about tempeh or seitan. I’ve never cooked with either of those, but would love more info on them!

  3. Jen

    Featured Foods are a great idea! I’m from California and my boyfriend is from the South. Recently I saw these in the market and dragged him over to see…”oh, look at the adorable mini zucchinis.” He got a good laugh out of that.

  4. I love the featured food idea!!! I would love to see what you do with fennel, if you like it. I have never had it but I am curious.

  5. Hey Kelly–stumbled across your blog today and think your new “featured food” idea is a great one! I’ve been seriously looking into going vegetarian lately and have been surprised at how many vegetables I’ve never heard of! One of them is swiss chard (or chard in general?). Any recommendations on recipes for this veggie?

    • If you type “chard” in my search bar on the right side of the blog, you should get a lot of ideas, but I’m going to email you a few links as well. Multiple links don’t show up nicely in comments.

  6. mmm okra!!! it is still hard to believe that till this year I just started eating okra haha I am sure glad I do though!

  7. Elizabeth

    I LOVE OKRA–great idea about featured foods. My favorite way for okra–the microwave! It works perfectly–removes ALL slime. My kids LOVE it. Wash 5-6 spears, wrap in damp papertowels. Place on plate and micro for 3-4 minutes( I like mine still crisp). Remove and season as desired. So easy and quick! e

  8. Marie-Pier

    I seriously LOVE the idea of a ”featured” food or ingredient!
    I was always wondering about Okra and always thought it was kinda spicy! But it’s very interesting to learn about new whole food! Thanks for that post and I will def. try Okra before the season ends :)

  9. I have to admit that I’ve lived in the south for 5 years and have still yet to try okra. It kind of creeps me out! I will try it at some point though, I promise!

  10. Okra is still realtively new in our kitchen, but I made an “oven-fried” okra for the kids a few weeks ago. I cut the okra into 1″ pieces, coated them with seasoned flour, dipped into egg/milk mixture, then rolled them in cornmeal and baked them until they were light brown. It ended up that the adults liked them better than the kids though.
    Featured food suggestion for fall: Squash!

    • That sounds so delicious Stephanie! I’m nuts about squash so I’ll definitely be featuring it, although I’ll have to force myself to do anything with acorn besides roasting it.

  11. I love the featured food idea. I’ve thought about doing something similar. I love okra too. I’m a southern girl at heart. My favorite is stewed with tomatoes and Indian spices. I really want to try the curried okra with chickpeas and the spiced with yellow peppers and onions. Yum. Great post and great idea!

  12. Brad

    It’s also used in Cajun food quite a bit.

  13. Eat all.the.time. here in New Orleans especially in seafood gumbo. Mmmm, so good!

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