by Tambra Stevenson
Who doesn’t remember the scene in “Coming to America” when Oha sings ‘She is your Queen to be’ at the wedding of Prince Akeem (played by Eddie Murphy)? Like the Prince’s queen-to-be with the glowing radiant skin, you too can enhance your health and beauty with okra. Yes, okra!
In ancient Egyptian times, African queens even before Cleopatra ate okra, also known as lady fingers, to maintain their beautiful skin. Native to Africa, okra came to America during the Atlantic slave trade.
These globetrotting slippery pods have real health benefits. The smooth texture lubricates the intestines while its fiber prevents constipation. Also okra helps to detoxify chemicals in the liver and contains naturally occurring glutathione that supports the immune system.
Packed with iron and calcium, okra is also a good source of vitamin A and C. Okra’s vitamin C is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which curtail asthmatic symptoms.
In the American south, okra can be found in a bowl of New Orleans-style gumbo or simply fried in corn meal. Though a southern vegetable of choice, okra is enjoyed in east Indian dishes fried in a spice mix with onions and tomato or served in vegetable curries.
So for this National Nutrition Month, get your plate in shape by making half of it with vegetables and fruits. You can start with this recipe and treat yourself like a queen with a radiating dish of lady fingers and tomatoes.
RECIPE: Okra and Tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 green bell pepper, minced
- 1 pound frozen sliced okra (or fresh okra)
- 1 (8 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with no added salt (or 3 fresh chopped tomatoes)
- 1 (15 ounce) can stewed tomatoes with no added salt (or 6 fresh chopped tomatoes)
- Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste (or Braggs Liquid Aminos) Cover the bottom of a skillet with the olive oil and place over medium heat.
- Place the garlic, onion, and cayenne pepper in the skillet and stir until fragrant. Stir in the green pepper.
- Cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the frozen okra and allow to cook for 5 minutes more.
- Stir in both the diced and the stewed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until all vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Amount per serving: 66 Calories; 1.1g Total Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 312 mg Sodium; 13.1g Total Carbohydrates; Fiber 3.9g; 2.8g Protein
Tambra Stevenson is the President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia. You can follow her on Twitter at @tambra.