Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Can You Eat Raw Okra?

Once again I am taking you with me on my Wednesday morning outing to the farmers market. Today's market was especially buzzing because this week is Local Food Week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If you live in my area (Green Country) you can read about all of the activities on my last blog post. If you don't live near me, perhaps you may get some ideas for your own community on how to promote and encourage public awareness of local foods and the slow food movement.

Most of the ingredients I picked up at today's market will be star players in my upcoming project so you'll be seeing more of them in the days and weeks ahead. One food I especially wanted to mention today is Okra. I grew up on fried okra, which clearly isn't part of my dietary program now, but none the less, I have fond memories of it.

Did you know that okra is a rich source of beta-carotene, B-Complex vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium and sodium? It is an very hydrating food due to its rich electrolyte content and it helps preserve the body's balance of fluids which is necessary for nerve impulse transmission. The pectin in okra is known to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Because okra is very alkaline, it helps to neutralize acids and provides a temporary protect coating for the digestive tract. It has a mild laxative effect as it lubricates the the large intestine. For centuries okra has been used to treat lung inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, sore throat, ulcers and as a remedy in keeping the joints limber. Topically, an okra poultice can be applied to heal burns, soothe poison ivy & psorasis, and okra juice is suggested as a gargle for sore throats. (Who knew??)

I had never eaten raw okra until I changed up my diet. I was actually kind of scared to try it raw. I've found that if you get young, tender okra (no longer than 4 inches long), it is really good. I have sliced it into salads, I have tossed it into a combination of fresh tomatoes, corn and onions w/ a little olive oil, salt & pepper (yum). I have also sliced it, tossed it with olive oil and dredged it in a little mixture of almond & flax meal, salt & pepper and dehydrated it a bit for a "faux" fried okra.

Do you have any additional suggestions for eating raw okra?

I encourage you to go out around where you live and explore your local farmer's markets, farms, CSA's and co-ops. If you're a member of Raw Food Rehab, we'd all love to see photos and even see some videos of your local food outings!! Let us know how you are adding fresh, locally grown foods into your diet.......
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