I’m kind of a picky eater. I don’t eat any red meat or pork (the other white meat), I only eat fish when it’s deep fried and I will get grossed out when someone is eating pork rinds in the same room with me (which has happened). Though I’m less picky of a drinker (won’t turn my nose up at Miller Lite or Labatt, especially when they’re cheap), I won’t drink any beers that have the words “bourbon barrel” in the description. As for kale? I’ve referred to it as “spinach’s inedible cousin.”
So it might surprise you all to learn that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE OKRA! Traditionally used in southern and “soul food” recipes, I got my first taste of okra when I had Campbell’s chicken gumbo soup as a kid. And also the fried gumbo at Ponderosa (I grew up in a heavily African-American area). I’m still picky though! I won’t eat ribs, won’t eat chit’lins, and if a sandwich comes with bacon, I ask that it be left off to the side (they’ll charge me for it anyway) so that someone else gets to eat it. Win-win – doesn’t everyone (but me) love free bacon? Yes, I do get teased for not liking bacon (though I never, ever judge anyone for what they eat, unless it’s pork rinds). And I may unfollow you on Facebook if you get too obsessive about a “fad” diet (I’m looking at you – “Keto” freaks)!
We were grocery shopping today to get stuff to make soup. Not just any soup, mind you! Any soups I make tend to be hearty, not super brothy, and to steal Chunky soup’s slogan – they “eat like a meal.” Not to toot my own horn, but I make some pretty darn good soups! We got all of the stuff we thought we needed, and realized with horror that we forgot the okra!
So we made one more stop in our friendly local Save A Lot, which is in kind of a “sketchy” area. And I bought one bag of frozen okra – and left. I joked with the cashier, saying “You might live in the ‘hood if you go into a store to buy only okra.”
He said that his mother used to make fried okra quite a lot when he was a kid…and he hated it. That’s the thing about okra – it doesn’t rank really high on the popularity charts for vegetables. The most objectionable thing people mention is the “slime” (aka mucilage) that comes from the seed pods when they are cooked. Turns out that “slime” is actually very good for you (contains soluble fiber).
When he told me he didn’t like okra, I said I like to use it in soup, adding:
Okra is not really a star performer, but it’s a great supporting cast member.
Some other health benefits of okra:
- Nutrient rich – especially vitamin C and vitamin K1 (which aids in clotting)
- Contains some protein (unusual for a vegetable)
- High in antioxidants
- May help reduce heart disease risk, cancer risk, lower blood sugar
- Nutrients beneficial to pregnant women (particularly folate, aka vitamin B9)
Why don’t you try adding okra next time you make some soup? Don’t think of the “mucilage” as slime – think of it as “power goo!”