A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lady Fingers + Gumbo + Okra = All The Same

Pickled lady fingers, stir-fried gumbo, or stew with okra; no matter what you call, okra is the common name used in America.  Okra seems to be a vegetable that's left off most plates not being used as often as other veggies.  I love buying it frozen in cut form and adding to my weekly meals for lunch or steaming with other veggies and a protein for dinner.

Frozen okra, as other frozen veggies, is as easy as placing in a bowl, covering, and steaming in the microwave for 3 - 6 minutes depending on the amount you have.  Season to your liking for a quick, nutritious treat.

Why add okra to your diet you ask?  Here's a nice list found at this site to give you more than enough reason to enjoy:

1.The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize the blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.

2.Okra's mucilage binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver.
3.Okra helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra's mucilage soothes, and okra facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. Okra binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids). These, if not evacuated, will cause numerous health problems. Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body. Okra is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming, has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is economically within reach of most individuals unlike over-the-counter drugs.
4.Okra fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract.
5.Okra is a supreme vegetable for those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.
6.Okra is used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber. It helps to neutralize acids, being very alkaline, and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract.
7.Okra treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel syndrome.
8.Okra has been used successfully in experimental blood plasma replacements.
9.Okra is good for summer heat treatment.
10.Okra is good for constipation.
11.Okra is good in normalizing the blood sugar and cholesterol level.
12.Okra is good for asthma. Okra's vitamin C is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which curtail the development of asthma symptoms.
13.Okra is good for atherosclerosis.
14.Okra is believed to protect some forms of cancer expansion, especially colorectal cancer.
15.Eating okra helps to support the structure of capillaries.
16.Some information shows that eating okra lowers the risk of cataracts.
17.Okra is good for preventing diabetes.
18.Okra protects you from pimples and maintains smooth and beautiful skin.
As a kid, I was first introduced to okra in its pickled form and loved it.  Although I still like it pickled, cooked in stews or steamed with mixed veggies is my preferred choice.
Here's a recipe from one of my favorite foodie's, Alton Brown from the Food Network:
  • 2 pounds young, small to medium okra pods
  • 4 small dried chiles, split in 1/2
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 12 sprigs fresh dill
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cups bottled water
  • Special Equipment: 4 pint-sized canning jars, sterilized


Wash the okra and trim the stem to 1/2-inch. Place 1 chile, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 3 sprigs of dill, 1 clove of garlic and 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns in the bottom of each of 4 sterilized pint canning jars. Divide the okra evenly among the 4 jars, standing them up vertically, alternating stems up and down.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the salt, vinegar and water to a boil. Once boiling, pour this mixture over the okra in the jars, leaving space between the top of the liquid and the lid. Seal the lids. Set in a cool dry place for 2 weeks.
Here's another recipe I put together for a quick meal packed full of veggies and easy to change so you can use whatever's on hand:

Ingredients - 4 servings

1 pound medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped*
1 small yellow onion, chopped*
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium carrots peeled and chopped*
1 cup corn kernels*
1 cup chopped okra*
1 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes – try to find the low sodium kind
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 – 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

*These can all be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores

- Heat olive oil in a stock pot and saute the green pepper, onions, and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

-Add the shrimp, return to a boil and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving
Don’t like or have shrimp? Use cut up boneless skinless chicken breast, canned tuna, or make it vegetarian with your favorite beans or lentils.  The stew goes great with some fresh made corn bread. This recipe is easy to change as you please so go ahead, make it your own!

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