If you’re from the South, or you’ve lived in the South for any time at all, you’ve heard about okra, which is at its height in late summer and warm early fall. I’m still getting gorgeous pesticide-free okra from the Clemson Area Food Exchange, and I’ve harvested a few from my late-bloomer plants. Usually I eat these raw, but I’m one of the only people I know who likes okra this way. (However, if you haven’t tried fresh okra right off the plant, you must. Nothing slimy about it.)
I’ve also been cooking and pickling it, and I’ve come up with some great recipes I wanted to share with you. “Why eat okra at all?” you might ask. Okra is indeed a largely overlooked vegetable, mostly used in gumbo, where its consistency when cooked adds to the stew’s thickness. However it has quite a few nutrients health benefits, including:
- a relatively high protein content for a vegetable: approximately 2 grams per 1 cup.
- 3 grams of fiber per cup
- high levels of calcium, potassium, vitamins C, A & K, and folate
- chlorophyll, which is a superfood renowned for its anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant properties
- the ability to soothe inflammation in the digestive tract, bind with and remove excess cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar
If you’re looking for a starter okra recipe that minimizes cooked okra’s renowned sliminess (which is also the source of its ability to relieve constipation and IBS, as well as promote healthy intestinal flora), try this simple recipe below.
Okra and Onions with Swiss Chard
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- ½ lb okra, trimmed and sliced
- 2 cups swiss chard (about ½ bunch chopped)
- ½ tsp salt
Saute onion and okra in coconut oil until okra is bright green, about 5 minutes. Add swiss chard and salt, cover, and steam 2–4 more minutes. Serve.
If you’re an okra lover, or you’re feeling like getting even more health awesomeness into your okra, try this absolutely delicious one-pan recipe:
Okra Curry with Turmeric
Turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory, which means it is beneficial for prevention and healing of just about every disease and chronic condition out there. It has benefits as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. And its flavor perfectly complements the sweetness of both okra and coconut milk in the recipe below.
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 lb. okra, trimmed & sliced
- 1 can (or box) coconut milk
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp cardamom (optional)
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional if you like spice)
- ½ tsp salt
Saute onion and okra in coconut oil 5 minutes on medium-high heat. When okra is bright green and onion is translucent, add remaining ingredients. Simmer 10 minutes and serve.