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Okra - Tastes Great and is Good for You!

While okra is delicious, did you know it was also nutritious?

Nashville, Ark. – Fresh okra is a favorite summer vegetable in the south. Most gardens have an abundance of okra through October. While okra is delicious, did you know it was also nutritious?

Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients and very low in calories. One-half cup has only 25 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and is a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals. Okra provides vitamins A, C, K and folate. It is also a good source of potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

To gain all the nutritional benefits of okra, choose small tender pods that are free of brown streaks. Choose ones that are deep green and not woody. To determine if the pod is not woody, slightly push the tip of okra over with your finger. If it flexes and does not break, this usually means the okra is not woody. If you are buying okra, choose pods that are crisp-looking yet tender and two to four inches long. Long pods usually indicate toughness.

When determining how much okra to purchase allow one-fourth pound per serving. Once you cut it fresh or purchase it, store it properly. Fresh okra is very perishable. Okra should be stored in a paper bag or wrapped in a pager towel and placed inside a perforated bag to keep the pods very dry. Moisture causes pods to become slimy. Okra can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

For longer storage, blanch the okra whole and freeze. Freeze only young, tender okra. It must be blanched before freezing. Unblanched okra will quickly become tough and suffer huge nutrient, flavor and color loss during freezing.

Okra can be prepared in a variety of ways. It can be boiled, baked, or fried. It combines well with other vegetables especially tomatoes and is a natural thickening agent in soups and gumbo.

To prepare, clean the okra, trim off the stem and tip. Then grill or roast by tossing okra with enough olive oil to coat the pods, add a dash of salt and pepper and grill each side on medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes. Rapid cooking will preserve the flavor and prevent pastiness. It is recommended to not use cast iron, aluminum or exposed copper pots for cooking okra because okra cooked in these pans will turn black.

For more information on okra or other vegetables, especially preserving them, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. You can visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

            Roasting is a great way to prepare okra. It is easy to do and is lower in calories than traditional frying. The best advantage is it only takes 20 minutes to prepare.

Roasted Okra

18 small fresh okra pods (if using larger pods, slice into ½-inch pieces.)

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

½ to 1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

            Preheat oven to 425⁰F. Arrange the okra in one layer on a foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

            Roast in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn every 5 minutes for even browning.

Note: Try experimenting with other seasonings. Garlic and onion powder are possible seasonings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 61, Protein: 1g, Fat: 5g, Carbohydrate: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Fiber: 2g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 393 mg

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517
jince@uaex.edu

 

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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