Friday, April 12, 2013

Okra: Failure with the vegetable that's a fruit

This week on My Fertile Lifestyle's Facebook page, I asked everyone to try a new vegetable.  I said I would try one too.  While shopping at my local Whole Foods, I bought okra.  I had heard of it but had never even seen one before.  If you're like me and don’t know what it looks like, here it is:

For fun, I did a little research about okra.  I was hoping that, with some information, I would be able to “sell” it to my kids, mostly my daughter.  Did you know that in some countries it is called lady’s finger, bhindi or gumbo?   I can sell lady’s fingers.   It is grown in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climates around the world.   Okra has health benefits such as high fiber, vitamin C and folate content.  It is also known for being high in antioxidants, calcium and potassium.  I am all for anti-oxidants! What's not to love about okra, I thought.

There are several different ways okra can be cooked.  A word of caution: the seed pods turn into goo or slime when cooked.   In Malawi, it is actually cooked with sodium bicarbonate to make it more slimy.  There is no way that my kids are eating slime.   Okra has also been used in gumbos, stews and soups.  It's quite popular in the southern part of the United States where it is usually served fried. Another way to cook okra is to stir-fry it.  My kids like stir-fry so I set off to find a recipe on Pinterest.  The one I found was an okra stir-fry with sweet potatoes.  If my kids didn't like the okra, at least, they would eat the sweet potatoes.

After telling my kids that I was writing this article to encourage people to try new vegetables, I began to cook.  My daughter helped me cut the okra.  She said that the seeds looked like tiny pearls.  They did! (Those "tiny pearls" make it a fruit.)   After everything was cut up, I began to cook the sweet potatoes.  I added the seasonings and then finally, the okra.  Well, that's when the recipe started going awry.  The okra got slimy.  There was no way they were going to eat it and quite frankly, I didn't like the looks of it either.   We had chicken and rice that night.  

Apparently, this is one fruit/vegetable that should be handled by an expert and not an amateur, like me. I will wait until my local farm, Sport Hill, opens up again.  Our farmer always has something new that I have never heard of.  I will make another attempt at trying a new vegetable soon.  If anyone wants to cook okra for me, I am open to trying it.  Did you try a new vegetable this week?  I'd love to hear about it.