Crop of the Week: Okra
- Okra is a member of the Mallow family, related to cotton, hibiscus and hollyhock.
2. In other parts of the world, this functional vegetable is also known as gumbo or lady fingers.
3. The pods, when cut, exude a mucilaginous juice that is used to thicken stews (like gumbo), and have a flavor somewhat like a cross between asparagus and eggplant.
4. Okra probably originated somewhere around Ethiopia, and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians by the 12th century B.C.
5. Okra seeds have been toasted, ground and used a coffee substitute for centuries.
6. The leaves can be cleaned and eaten raw in salads, or added to sandwiches and wraps in place of other greens.
7. Okra is a good source of vitamin C and A, also B complex vitamins, iron and calcium. It is low in calories, a good source of dietary fiber, and is naturally fat-free.
8. Okra can be used as a natural face mask. Boil a handful of okra until soft and let it cool down. Then mash it, and apply it to your face. In just 5 minutes, your skin should feel smooth and rejuvenated.
9. Okra was used as a remedy for curing ulcers because of its ability to neutralize acids, being very alkaline, and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract.
10. Mature Okra is used for making ropes and papers.