Growing & Cooking Okra – The Health Benefits of…

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Whenever I mention Okra, there is usually somebody that will say something like this:  “Say whaaa?  You eat Okra?  Eeew!”  Ha-ha!  But seriously, this stuff is really good and I think more people would like it, if they’d just try it or perhaps cook it a few different ways, etc.

okra

I will say, at least in the U.S., Okra seems to be more of a “southern thing,” sort of like Fried Green Tomatoes.  One must remember, here in the south, we’ll batter & fry almost anything possible, hence forth the obesity problem at hand; LOL!

At any rate, I just happened to think about this particular veggie today, when contemplating what I’m going to do for the garden season of 2012.  It seems that every gardening season is different for me, since I have moved several times of late.  This year I have limited space, and I’m thinking about getting the most out of my yard by doing something I have never done before, which would be planting in multiple sections and in strategic areas.  I mean, I planted in sections once before, when I had a big open field; I had 2 separate growing areas, but one of them was mostly a corn field

Now that I have normal-sized yard without much room for a big garden, I’m going to have to get creative, to say the least.  Anyway, this post isn’t going to be highly informative or anything,  just me rambling about cooking and growing okra along with a few of the health benefits it has, and so on…

Okra is extremely easy to grow and doesn’t have any special requirements that stand out.  If you can grow tomatoes and peppers, you should have no problem growing okra.  Although many people recommend starting this plant from seed sown directly into your garden, I find it easier to just buy the plants small and transplant them into your garden.  Yes, it costs slightly more but it is my garden and if I want to take a shortcut, it is my business!  Ha!  The only seeds I usually sow directly into the soil are the large ones, like corn, squash, zucchini, etc.
I have read before that it is a good idea to rotate your okra crop (change locations) every year because they are very susceptible to diseases from the soil and those beloved garden pests.
If you have fairly decent soil or use organic compost and whatnot, you will most likely not have to even worry about fertilizer.  Or, you can take the easy way out (if you don’t use compost, etc.) and apply a small amount of miracle grow (or other types of fertilizer) a few times, when your plant starts growing larger – to insure a good yield.

It is a good idea to pick your okra at a small size, or it will be too tough to eat and the seeds in the pods will be quite large.
I usually pick it anywhere from 3.5 to 5 inches, albeit I have picked some a little larger and they still be tender – depending on how fast they grew.  Speaking of that, if you have a lot of okra plants and they start to yield, if you do not go out there every day and pick ’em, you’ll have green pods coming out of your bunghole!  Yes folks, they really produce quick, once they start to take off!

I’m not going to spend any more time talking about growing this easy-to-grow vegetable.  Now how about cooking these tasty delights?
Being from the south, I can tell ya right now, I prefer to batter them in corn meal and fry those suckers in oil.   I slice up a good mess, roughly 3/8ths to 1/2 inch slices, bread them with my flour & seasoning, and drop them in a preheated skillet full of canola oil.

I have also boiled them in a mixture of water, soy sauce, and pepper seasoning, and they turn out great.  When I boil ’em, I keep the pods whole.  I have also pickled okra, although I wasn’t that impressed because it ended up tasting like pickles instead of okra, but whatever floats your boat!

There are many ways to use okra when cooking, not just the ways I mentioned above.  Many people put them in soups, stews, and stir-fry, as well.
Some people cook them with Lima beans, tomatoes and corn, which is something I believe they call “Okra Succotash.”

Now, what about those health benefits?
Like any organic vegetable that isn’t laced with pesticide and chemicals, it has obvious health benefits. …The usual vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, blah, blah, and so on and so forth.
However, there is a distinct quality in okra that is really good for your digestive tract.  The slime or “goo” in okra is a very beneficial fiber and helps lubricate the large intestine.  Okra’s mucilage (that slime or goo stuff that forms when you cook it) binds cholesterol and bile acid which helps flush the toxins and excess cholesterol out of the body via your intestinal tract.
Okra has been known to help people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) along with other ailments.
Here’s a web page I just found online, that speaks about some of these health benefits in further detail:  http://www.pyroenergen.com/articles07/okra-health-benefits.htm

Well, enough about this okra subject.  Now I’m ready to fry some, but I don’t have any at the moment.  I look forward to growing some this year, though, along with several other things; good luck with your crops and enjoy the garden season of 2012.  Cheers!

—End of post “Growing & Cooking Okra – The Health Benefits of…”

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