Sunday, May 31, 2009

Okra - the Hot Weather Veggie

Without a doubt, the okra is doing the best in the early summer heat. While the squash, cucumbers, sunflowers, and pumpkins droop in the daily furnace, nary a sign of wilt in any of the okra. Very impressive.

And to top it all off, the prettiest flowers of all! Really exotic looking.

More info on okra:

The pods should be picked or cut off while they are tender and immature, just 2 to 3 inches long. They must be picked often—at least every other day. When the stem is difficult to cut, the pod is probably too old to use. The large pods rapidly become tough and woody.

Okra seed does not keep well. Buy fresh seed each season, or save seed of non- hybrid varieties yourself by allowing a few pods on your best plant to mature. When the pods turn brown and begin to split at the seams, harvest them and shell the seeds from the pods. Dry seed thoroughly for several days, then store in a cool, dry place in tightly closed containers until next season.

Refrigerate unwashed, dry okra pods in the vegetable crisper. Wet pods will quickly mold and become slimy. Okra will keep for only two or three days.

Okra exudes a unique juice which is responsible for its thickening power in the famous Louisiana Creole gumbo dish. Aside from gumbo, okra compliments tomatoes, onions and corn, shellfish and fish stock. Okra has a subtle taste, similar to the flavor of eggplant.

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 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.

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

Okra recipes

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