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Eat More Okra

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Originally from the motherland, Africa, okra is a flowering plant that produces edible seed pods. Those pods, aka "Lady Fingers" are a key ingredient in many beloved and iconic soul dishes in the deep South.

Okra is often used in soups and stews, and they can also be fried or pickled. In my humble opinion okra gets a bad rap due to the "slime" factor people associate with it.

The slime is due to the presence of mucilage which can be controlled or eliminated. Mucilege is what helps to thicken soup and stew recipes, making okra a popular ingredient in many traditional soul food dishes.

Okra has been around forever, since like BC times in Ethiopia but eventually made its way to West Africa, where it was eventually brought to America by enslaved Africans. Outside of rice, okra might be the most important food in the history of African foodways.

Okra is versatile, grows quickly and in abundance in hot conditions, and is deeply rooted in African culinary history.

How To Cook Okra

Summertime is okra time and whether you grow your own or buy from grocery stores or farmer's market there are so many options for recipes. Okra is great stewed, roasted, grilled, and is often the case down South - fried!

If you're concerned about the slime checkout these different ways of cooking okra without slime.

Try some of my favorite okra recipes:

My grandmother made classic stewed okra and tomatoes seem like every Sunday during those Texas summers. I wasn't ready for it then, but I'm here for it anytime now!

But I'm for okra anytime, anyway including probably my goto recipe grilled okra. You also can't talk okra and soul food without mentioning fried okra.

The beauty of cooking okra is it's simplicity. It doesn't require much time, technique, or many ingredients. Roasted Okra is the perfect example of this as is this ridiculously flavored charred okra with harissa sauce.

For ideas which feature okra as more of a secondary ingredient try the okra fried rice, okra soup with smoked chicken, field peas and okra, and Instant Pot Gumbo.

For other okra soul food ideas worth trying, checkout:

What are the health benefits of okra?

In addition to its culinary uses, okra is also prized for its medicinal properties. Studies have shown that okra can help to lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control. It is also a good source of fiber, which can promote digestive health.

Whether you're looking to add some flavor to your cooking or you're searching for a new natural remedy, okra may be worth adding to your repertoire.

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