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OKRA

okra

 

Okra is at its peak in the month of August! Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, nearly half of which is soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectins. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber, which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy, thus decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer (especially colorectal cancer). Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra.

Did You Know:  Okra is in the same family as cotton and hibiscus!  Like these two plants, it tends to thrive in warm climates, and is therefore prominent in Indian, African, and Southern cooking.

How To Choose and Store Okra:

Look for small, brightly colored pods, ideally about 2 inches long.  The larger the pod, the “woodier” the okra becomes.  Avoid dull, bruised, soft, or blemished pods.  If okra is too ripe, it will have a very sticky texture.

Refrigerate unwashed, dry okra pods in the vegetable crisper, loosely wrapped in perforated plastic bags. Wet pods will quickly mold and become slimy. Okra will keep for only two or three days. When the ridges and tips of the pod start to turn dark, use it or lose it. Once it starts to darken, okra will quickly deteriorate. 

Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup sliced, cooked okra)

    Calories 25
    Dietary Fiber 2 grams
    Protein 1.52 grams
    Carbohydrates 5.76 grams
    Vitamin A 460 IU
    Vitamin C 13.04 mg
    Folic acid 36.5 micrograms
    Calcium 50.4 mg
    Iron 0.4 mg
    Potassium 256.6 mg
    Magnesium 46 mg

Cooking With Okra

Sliminess-reducing tips:

-Rinsing the okra thoroughly after slicing will help reduce sliminess.

-Slicing and dry-cooking the okra will also help reduce sliminess.

Recipe:  “Unfried” Okra (derived from a recipe at Diet Bites)

Ingredients

-4 cups of fresh okra, washed and sliced thin (about 1/4 inch or thinner if desired)
-1 cup of yellow cornmeal—try to get whole grain or stone ground if possible.
-salt & pepper to taste
-water
-non stick cooking spray

Place sliced okra into a bowl and add cornmeal, salt and pepper.  The okra will appear to be 'dusted' by the cornmeal.

Next, add a bit of water to the bowl.  Add just a bit of water at a time because YOU will control the look and feel of your okra batter.  Some people like their okra battered heavily, some don't.  So adjust the water accordingly.
 
Next, pull the loose cornmeal that has settled into the bottom of the bowl over the 'dusted' okra.  Batter should clump around the dusted okra.  

Spray a cookie sheet with the cooking spray and spread the battered okra onto the sheet.  Next, spray the top of the okra with the cooking spray.  Be generous!  

Pop the okra into a 350 degree pre-heated oven.  Cook for 15 minutes, then remove and turn the okra.  Spray with the buttery spray one more time and return to the oven.  Be sure to remove the okra before spraying because the spray can ignite is you spray the pan while it is still inside of the oven.

Cook an additional 15 minutes, or until okra is golden brown.
The entire recipe contains zero fat and about 600 calories (400 coming from the cornmeal).  Recipe will serve 4 people VERY GENEROUSLY for about 150 calories each.