October 2nd, 2016

Okra- the small but mighty, mean and green machine!

by Yael Ben-Chaim

OKRA! This green and unique looking vegetable can be found at many Maryland farmers markets. Though small, okra is full of vitamins and minerals to energize your body and brain.  Okra is frequently used in Chinese and Caribbean foods, and has become a hot-ticket health food due to its nutritional qualities.

When cut, okra  has small, round pods that are arranged in vertical row. These pods are full of antioxidants and vitamin A. Together, the antioxidants and vitamin A, induce healthy and clear skin. Additionally, okra is high in fiber, which offers the added benefits of diabetes prevention.

Okra can stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing sugar absorption in the intestines. Because of its rich vitamin C content, okra is said to prevent cough and cold and can reduce symptoms of asthma!

Finally, okra is a good source of minerals, including iron, calcium and magnesium.  Iron assists in red blood cell and hemoglobin. This is important for the body to avoid fatigue and maintain energy throughout the day. Calcium is essential for strong and healthy bones, as well as healthy heart function! Magnesium helps increase energy, and calms nerves and anxiety.

So, if okra is so healthy…how do I eat it?

You can eat okra raw, but we loved this recipe for “Spiced Okra” from


  • 1lb okra, cut in half lengthwise
  • ½ tsp. of cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp. of coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp. of fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp. of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. of olive oil


  • Heat oil in non-stick pan, add cumin seeds until they brown.
  • Add okra and fry on medium heat for two minutes, or until they get slightly brown.
  • Add the rest of spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Cover pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Open the lid of the pan and cook for another 1-2 minutes until okra gets crispy!


About the Author Yael Ben-Chaim

Yael is a food-lover, interested in local food systems and farmers markets. Follow Yael's blog posts on farmer market produce, recipes, and nutrition information. Yael is an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Maryland Farmers Market Association and is developing a seasonal food education program for MDFMA.