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What Are Lady's Fingers and Why You Should Eat Them?

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You probably think that I'm either joking or I'm out of my mind! Trust me, I'm not advertising cannibalism here, I want to share the benefits of eating okra, also known as lady's fingers, bhindi and gumbo. Although this tasty green is a relative of cotton, it has been considered as food for thousands of years. Botanically, it's classified as a fruit, but is usually thought of, and eaten as, vegetable. This flowering plant is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. The seed pods measure up to 18 centimeters in length and are usually of green colour.
 
okra or lady's finger
 
Okra consumption is proven to have multiple health benefits. Because of its high fibre content, it is helpful in diabetes prevention and is great for digestion. It also ensures lesser cholesterol absorbtion and is very low in calories. 100g of uncooked bhindi contains only around 35 calories making it an ideal weight loss food! It's a great source of vitamins A, C, E, K, as well as thiamin and pyridoxine. It also contains valuable minerals such as magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus and zinc. Some researchers also suggest that, due to the high vitamin C content, it can be very beneficial in treating asthma. Gumbo had even been consumed by Egyptians, who also used it as medicine, taking advantage of its emollient properties. It is alkaline and helps to neutralize acids. 
 
Okra can be eaten both cooked and raw. I like it curried or simply cut crosswise and added to salads. It's quite aesthetically pleasing chopped up that way. Some cooks stir fry the pods lighty or deep fry them in batter. Bhindi is of great use to everyone, including vegetarians, vegans, raw foodists and paleo diet followers. Some people don't appreciate, to put it lightly, the fact that this plant is mucilaginous, meaning it often gets slimy during preparation. However, this quality can be taken advantage of and used as binding agent and to thicken soups and sauces. It can also be dried and ground into a powder to use as a thickening agent in various dishes! Great gluten free flour alternative. If you're still put off by the sliminess, I have good news. It can be reduced by frying the whole pods over high heat or grilling them.
 
When buying fresh okra, it's best to select smaller and bright coloured pods as they are tender and crunchy. The softer and longer ones are older, can be chewy and tend to be less tasty. Okra becomes woody and tough as it matures, making it difficult to prepare. Avoid pods with significant discoloration. To put it all simply: the greener and shorter, the better! So, why not introduce this tasty green to your kitchen, boost up your health and give any meal a lift? Simply trim the pointy ends off, slice it and serve with a salad dressing of your choice. If you'd rather cook it, you can braise or stew it with other ingredients. Or use it to make vegetarian, vegan or carnivore friendly skewers and other barbecued dishes. It can also be mashed or stir fried easily. Whatever the form of preparation, okra makes for an interesting ingredient in both simple and adventurous types of cuisine. 
sliced okra salad
 
You can keep the fresh pods for up to five days under refrigeration. Lady's fingers can be frozen, pickled or dried for long-term storage. 
 
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Comments

Jul 26, 2014 11:27pm
shar-On
I had heard of lady fingers but thought they were the green grapes. So always learning something new on IB. Thanks for sharing rated.
Jul 27, 2014 12:24am
matyldasays
I'm glad you found the information interesting. Grapes are healthy, too! Thank you for reading and rating.
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