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.


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?