Nutrition Fun Facts: Okra is packed full of two types of fiber. The first is soluble fiber which can help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugars by creating a gel-like substance in the gut. This gel helps to collect harmful cholesterol and slow digestion. The second is insoluble fiber, which helps to maintain a healthy intestinal tract by acting as a binder and allowing for proper stool formation. Okra helps regulate blood sugar, promote healthy skin, and protects against stomach ulcers.
Storage Tips: Okra tastes best fresh and should be consumed shortly after purchasing. Store okra in a loosely wrapped plastic bag in the refrigerator. To preserve okra for a longer period, blanch in water and then freeze. Avoid storing wet okra as it will deteriorate faster in the fridge.
Preparation Tips: To better control gelatinous gum or “slime”, leave okra whole and use quick cooking methods such as sautéing, grilling, frying. In addition, adding acid in the form of tomatoes or citrus juice to a recipe will help minimize the amount of slime excreted from the okra. If looking to use the gelatinous gum to thicken, slice and add to stews or soups. Okra is also great pickled!
Recipe: Creole Style Stewed Okra
· 2 ounces bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch wide slices (optional)
· 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
· 1 cup diced bell pepper (about 1 bell pepper)
· 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 1 clove)
· 1 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1.5 cups diced tomatoes (3-4 medium, 2 large)
· 1 pound fresh okra, whole or thickly sliced,
· 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
· 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
· 1 pinch of cayenne
· 1 pinch cinnamon
· 1 scant pinch of ground cloves
· 1/2 cup water
1. Place the bacon (if using) in a thick-bottomed pot (3 or 4 quart). Heat on medium and cook until the bacon is lightly browned and much of the fat has rendered out.
2. Add the onions and bell pepper to pan with either browned bacon or 1-2 TBS olive oil. Cook over medium high heat until onions, and bell peppers are lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
3. Add the tomatoes, okra, and salt to the pot. Add the black pepper, cayenne, thyme, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Add more salt and pepper to taste.