From a texture perspective, my first experience with Okra was unfortunate to say the least. However, I persevered and tried it again to find that it is quite a delicious veggie...

okraslicesIn fact, delicious both raw and cooked in very different ways and when prepared right. Young okra has the best flavor and texture and can be eaten raw, diced and sliced, and added to things that you would want some fresh crunchy crispness. It is also really tasty when it is pickled, fried or grilled. Otherwise, it is traditionally added to stews, gumbos or soups. One feature of okra that makes it tricky to cook with (or maybe desirable to cook with depending on the dish) is that it becomes gelatinous or gummy in texture when it is cooked. It acts as a thickening agent in soups and stews because of the gelatinous quality. Okra is popular in southern cuisine and also in other cuisines around the world. Its first recorded use of Okra is in Egyptian cuisine although it actually seems to have originated in what is now modern day Ethiopia. One other interesting tidbit about Okra is that the seeds were roasted and used in place of coffee during the war. I am curious to try that and see what okra seed beverage tastes like. I’ll keep you posted.

From a health perspective, Okra is actually really amazing. It is low calorie, high fiber and high nutrient density. It is packed with antioxidants, helping decrease oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. It’s high in Vitamin C, A, and K making it a great resource for cardiovascular health, immune function and skin and bones. Okra also supports digestive balance and helps heal the gastrointestinal tract by coating it in mucilage and encouraging beneficial flora to grow. Research also suggests that Okra can help with kidney disease, particularly kidney damage related to diabetes. Lastly, Okra has the dubious reputation of being a natural Viagra since it seems to open the arteries in the same way that Viagra does, giving it the nickname “the love veggie” in some foodie circles.

All in all, I think Okra is worth a try... don’t be scared of it. It could be interesting to try it raw first and then ease into cooking it. Find ways to appreciate the potentially slimy aspect or use it as a thickening agent.

Just an aside, you can also use it on your hair and skin to boost collagen and create body and shine.