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Okra- the NEW new vegetable

Okra has had a bad rap! It's cheap, full of vitamins, and has no fat. Try it!
Okra has had a bad rap! It's cheap, full of vitamins, and has no fat. Try it!
all photos by Faith Bowman

This examiner was passing a produce stand and happened to see that a tray of okra was $1. At first repulsed, because of meals with sticky okra made by inept relatives, a new thought emerged while staring at the green pods: 'I can do better.' Into the grocery bag went the okra, and this examiner headed home with a head full of ideas.

To keep it simple, okra is actually great for people! It has no fat or cholesterol, it does have potassium, and vitamin a in spades. There's no sodium, so great for those of us with high blood pressure, and that dreaded stickiness serves to thicken stews like gumbo. How bad can anything in gumbo really be? People in the Southern part of the US feature okra in so many recipes, that it's shameful NOT to eat it. Who could resist something called Fried Pecan Okra? And if you're still not sure, WikiHow even has a full page with videos on how to prepare okra.

If you're new to okra, don't worry about getting fancy. Just start slow and get to know it. This is a super simple vegeatable to add to the pot. All you have to do is wash it, cut off the ends, and then go from there. Here are three ways that it can be prepared with no stress (or slime):

1. Wash and trim a handful of okra pods. Cut of stem ends. Pour a small amount of olive oil into a skillet, and heat over medium setting. Toss okra, chopped onions, and sliced mini-pepper rings into the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes. You can stop here and serve this over a baked potato, or with grits. OR add shrimp, which would be delicious. OR add slices of chicken breast and serve over rice.

2. Prep okra as before. Pour a small amount of olive oil into a skillet and heat. Add chopped fresh spring onion, garlic, oregano, basil, and a can of chopped octopus. Saute for a few minutes and then add a cupful of halved cherry tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes to blend flavors and then add half of a can of tomato paste diluted with a few tablespoons of warm water. Add the diluted paste to the skillet and stir. If it's too thick add water to loosen it up. Add a brimming tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, stir, and then cover. Simmer on low heat. Boil up some pasta to an al dente texture. Heap pasta in a bowl, then ladle on the sauce. Sprinkle on a little parmesan and enjoy with a hearty glass of red wine.

3. Wash okra and trip off ends. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Layer okra, spring onions, and peppers on an earthenware dish and roast.

That's it! Once you get the hang of adding okra to your diet, you'll find yourself coming up with excuses to use it. Chicken breast stuffed with okra? It could happen. Roasted okra sandwiches? It's possible. Only your imagination can limit you on this one.